Charged With Murder... George F Walker

Certified Criminal Defense Specialist

A murder charge in Canada that is based on degrees of culpability. As defined in the Criminal Code of Canada, murder is a culpable homicide with specific intentions.

Culpable homicide is defined as causing the death of a human being,

==> By means of an unlawful act;
==> By criminal negligence;
==> By causing that human being, by threats or fear of violence or by deception, to do anything that causes his death; or
==> By willfully frightening that human being, in the case of a child or sick person.

Culpable homicide is elevated to murder charge when:

The person who causes the death of a human being means to cause his death, or means to cause him bodily harm that he knows is likely to cause his death and is reckless whether death ensues or not;
A person meant to cause the death of a human being or cause him bodily harm that he knows is likely to cause his death, and by accident or mistake causes death to another human being, notwithstanding that he does not mean to cause death or bodily harm to that person (see transferred intent); or
A person, for an unlawful objective, does anything he knows is likely to cause death, and thereby causes death to a human being, notwithstanding that he desires to effect his objective without causing death or bodily harm to any human being.

So depending on the intent of the accused to commit the act of homicide, will dictate whether the charge is:

  • First Degree Murder or
  • Second Degree Murder

Types of First Degree Murder

Some of the conditions under which first degree murder charges would apply are exampled below:

  • contracted
  • planned and deliberate
  • hostage taking
  • while committing intimidation
  • committed against an identified peace officer
  • committed during terrorist activity
  • while using explosives in association with a criminal organization
  • while committing criminal harassment

while committing or attempting to commit:

  • hijacking an aircraft
  • sexual assault sexual assault with a weapon
  • aggravated sexual assault
  • kidnapping and forcible confinement

Second Degree Murder

Second degree murder has many of the same attributes, but determination is mostly based on the intent of the perpetrator.


Most prosecuting attorneys will consider the causation of an act to determine the degree of murder charge to lay .

In others words, what is the likelihood of Crown proving that the accused was significantly responsible in the cause of death considering the intent or conditions under which the death occurred.

When this is not obvious or there are other contributing factors that may be considered by the court, then the Crown may lay the lesser of the 2 charges.

Murder charges are a serious offence. If you find yourself under that cloud of suspicion, you will need the professional advice of a Lawyer that has a proven track record in this area of expertise.