What Is The Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?
Murder and Manslaughter are the most serious offences in the Criminal Code. Our commitment to our clients charged with any one of these offences is to avoid a conviction, and to fight for an acquittal, or a plea to a lesser charge.
Murder is the intentional killing of another human being. In Canada, murder law, or homicide, is classified into several categories: First degree murder, second degree murder, infanticide and manslaughter. The distinction between these offences is in the requirement of proof of the intent of the accused.
First degree murder refers to a murder that is both planned and deliberate. If it was planned then it was conceived and thought out before it was carried out. If it was deliberate then the act was considered and not impulsive.
There are several circumstances in which a murder that is not planned and deliberate can also warrant a first degree murder charge. The killing of a police officer or prison guard is always first degree murder. Murder committed in the course of the commission of other specified crimes such as hijacking, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, forcible confinement, hostage taking, terrorism, intimidation, or any offence being committed on behalf of a criminal organization, is also considered first degree murder under Canadian murder law.
Second degree murder is any homicide that is proven if the prosecution can establish the accused intended to kill the victim, or if he intended to cause bodily harm that he knew was likely to cause death.
Manslaughter is any unlawful killing that lacks the intent to prove murder. The hallmark of manslaughter law is essentially the commission of an unlawful act that causes the death of the victim. An unlawful act could be something as simple as applying force to a person without their consent (assault), with the resulting death of that person. A classic case involved a push to the victim, resulting in him losing his balance, and falling down a flight of stairs to his death. Manslaughter also can be successfully pleaded when an accused is charged with murder, and due to intoxication, he or she may lack the intent to kill or cause bodily harm that is likely to cause death. A charge of murder can also be reduced to manslaughter where the accused person can establish provocation, or where the prosecution cannot prove the necessary intent to commit murder (first or second degree), as intent is a primary difference between manslaughter and murder.
Mental Illness Defences
There are many circumstances where an accused, who is suffering from mental health issues, can be found not criminally responsible (and, thus avoid going to jail) if it is established that the accused did not appreciate the nature and quality of the act, or that it was wrong. This usually involves a mentally ill accused who is suffering from delusions that cause him to believe in a state of affairs that, if they were true, would afford a defence or excuse for his actions on moral or legal grounds. For example, if the accused held the delusional belief that the victim was the devil and he had to be killed, mental health law would afford a defence of not criminally responsible. The Criminal Law Team has extensive experience as mental health lawyers representing clients with mental health issues, and we have successfully raised the defence of not criminally responsible (the ‘Insanity Defence’). We have access to the best forensic psychologists and psychiatrists in the country to assist in establishing the grounds for this defence. We also offer treatment and counseling services to help the accused obtain bail, and to assist him through the rehabilitation process.
Are You Facing Murder or Manslaughter Charges in Toronto?
The consequences of a conviction for the offences of murder, manslaughter, and attempted murder charges are so severe that you need immediate legal advice from the experienced and dedicated lawyers of The Criminal Law Team. Every piece of evidence gathered in your case will be carefully scrutinized by our Team. We will use our extensive experience to guide you through the interrogation process so as to avoid you incriminating yourself and, thus, adding to the evidence against you in your case. It is critical to point out that, even in cases where an accused person believes he has a complete defence to the allegations, it is important to retain experienced criminal lawyers to obtain advice early on in the process. Not only will we strenuously remind you of your right to remain silent in an investigation where you may be a suspect, we will also spend considerable time reviewing with you the probable interrogation techniques used by the police to try and extract a confession from you.
If you or someone you know has been arrested and is facing a murder, manslaughter, or conspiracy to commit murder charge- or any serious allegation involving a crime of violence– call The Criminal Law Team of Bruce Karten & Stephen Hebscher.
Lawyers Bruce Karten & Stephen Hebscher have over 60+ years of combined experience in defending the rights of individuals accused of violent crimes in the Greater Toronto Area. We have an extremely high success rate of getting charges either reduced, withdrawn or dismissed altogether. See what our other clients are saying about us. We can help you too!
I came to Stephen Hebscher with a somewhat irregular case. Both my spouse and I had been mutually charged with domestic assault, a legal situation that neither of us had wished upon each other. While my spouse's lawyer had been content to seek mutually binding peace bonds, Stephen was able to get in front of the case and negotiate a withdrawal of both of our charges- the best possible outcome on BOTH sides of the table – once we successfully completing the PARs program. I remain entirely pleased with Stephen's competency, professionalism and accessibility, and would not hesitate to recommend him as a criminal defence lawyer. L.A.
Mr. Hebscher: I would like to thank you for your excellent representation of me in relation to the domestic assault charges that you worked so hard to have withdrawn. You have made a critical difference in my future and I am very happy with the outcome. I also appreciate your hard work, and the extra time and effort you have put in to deal with all the other issues that came along. I thank you for being a phone call away (or email) even when you did not have to be. I will gladly recommend your services to any of my friends or family should they ever need it. I am very grateful for what you have done.
I am impressed especially after our meeting on Monday – I was resigned that something bad would befall me, so I am very blessed to have this outcome. I thank you for the hard work that you have put into this case, and the dedication on getting me this fantastic outcome! I am so glad that we retained you as my lawyer! You have done an outstanding job and allowed me to now rebuild my life. Thank you, Bruce Karten.
Dave B. (Ajax, Ontario)
We were referred to Stephen Hebscher when our child was in need of legal representation. He was charged with sexual assault. As parents, we were quite frightened for our child but Mr. Hebscher was the calm voice of reason. We are very grateful to Mr. Hebscher for the excellent results he got for our child, as the charges were dropped.
J.N. (Toronto, Ontario)
Mr. Hebscher is a very professional lawyer who takes pride in his work and because of this the end result was the judge ruling me not guilty and I got my innocence and life back. My family and I would like to thank you again Stephen Hebscher for doing a wonderful job and also being a very supportive man.
Chris T. (Scarborough, Ontario)
I am happy to report that Bruce’s superior negotiation strategy and ability to present facts effectively helped convince the Crown to reduce his position. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bruce for getting my charge withdrawn and keep my criminal record clean.
J.S (Toronto, Ontario)
I looked and found Barrister Stephen Hebscher I introduced myself and my case and after listening to all details he was able to ensure me that my case would go well. All charges against me have be thrown out and my life is back to normal.
Blair H. (North York)
Bruce ...The care and concern you showed us during our dealings certainly helped to reduce the stress we were under. I would recommend you without a second thought. Your winning record is a bonus as well. My husband and myself can't thank you enough for all you've done for our family.
Debi T. (Mississauga, Ontario)
Dear Mr. Hebscher...There are not enough words to express my appreciation for your...giving me your undivided attention at all times, work in my case with your heart and soul, that makes you "ONE OF A KIND" lawyer.
Ahmed A. (Brampton, Ontario)
Mr. Bruce Karten was able to help to extricate me from a very serious criminal case containing severe charges, including weapons –threat to use weapons, death threat, harassment,etc. He succeeded in winning my case. I was discharged; was able to keep my career, and no criminal record. This was a tremendous accomplishment, and I am very appreciative of that.
Nickolai V. (Toronto, Ontario)
Again, from the depth of our hearts we sincerely thank you very much for being my Counsel on this case. We now can say you are the BEST and we will surely recommend you to our friends and anybody here we know who needs the best Lawyer in Ontario. You have done an extremely good job and we are very happy with the outcome this morning.
Roman A. (Markham, Ontario)
Mr. Hebscher was the only lawyer who gave me hope and made me feel like I had a real fighting chance. I am extremely satisfied with the quick results that he delivered, and I am happy to say that he was able to convince the court to drop the charges against me and clear my name.
Tina M. (Toronto, Ontario)