The murder rate in Alberta has fluctuated over recent years, with 118 homicide victims in 2021, the last year’s statistics that are available. Many of those victims died from gunshot wounds and were killed because of some form of gang affiliation. Although we think of murder being an urban issue, there has been a significant increase in the incidence of violent crime in rural Alberta. Murder and manslaughter are the most serious crimes and are the taking of another human being’s life, either directly or indirectly. The difference between murder and manslaughter is intent.
It is never a good idea to represent yourself when facing murder/manslaughter charges. You need a skilled and experienced criminal defence lawyer to represent your best interests and navigate you through the complexities of criminal prosecution. That includes everything from your arrest, bail hearing, disclosure review, negotiations with prosecutors, and through to trial, if necessary. Do not risk your rights and freedom by going it alone. Contact Bulwark Law today.
What Is the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?
Canadian law classifies homicide into three categories: murder, manslaughter, and criminal negligence causing death. Evidence of intent and the mindset of the defendant are the defining factors.
Murder requires evidence of premeditation and planning or an intent to kill. Manslaughter is more spontaneous, often the result of volatile circumstances. And criminal negligence, the least serious, results from a failure to abide by laws governing the safe use of a motor vehicle, equipment, or construction, for example.
Murder: The Crown must prove that the defendant caused the death of another person with evidence of intent to cause that death, serious bodily harm, or recklessness. The charge can be either 1st-degree or 2nd-degree. 1st-degree murder is either planned or deliberate or occurs during a contracted murder, murder of a police officer or peace officer while performing their duties, hijacking, sexual assault, kidnapping, terrorism, criminal harassment, as part of criminal organizations, or through intimidation. The Criminal Code automatically deems murders that occur during the commission of certain offences as 1st-degree murder, even without any evidence that the deaths were planned or intentional. For example, a robbery or sexual assault went bad can result in a murder charge.
Manslaughter: Manslaughter is committed when the death of another human being is the result of an unlawful act or when the death is caused through threats or fear of violence or by deception. Manslaughter can be charged when the death is the result of wilfully frightening a child or sick person.
What Are the Potential Consequences of Murder / Manslaughter Charges?
A conviction for 1st-degree murder requires the imposition of a life sentence with parole eligibility after 25 years. After serving 25 years, a defendant must demonstrate good behaviour while in prison, must admit responsibility for the death, and show an interest in rehabilitation. Although most defendants eventually will earn parole, any breach of parole conditions could mean a return to prison to serve additional time.
2nd-degree murder will also result in a life sentence. However, eligibility for parole begins at somewhere between 10 and 25 years into the prison sentence, depending on the discretion of the sentencing judge.
Manslaughter does not carry a mandatory life sentence, although it can still be imposed by the sentencing judge. The difference between a life sentence for murder and manslaughter is the date for parole eligibility. If a life sentence is imposed for manslaughter, there is no minimum sentence before becoming eligible to apply for parole. Lesser prison sentences for manslaughter are also possible. A 9-year sentence would make a defendant eligible for parole after serving 3 years. If a firearm is involved, the minimum sentence is four years, with parole feasible after serving one-third of the sentence. Sentencing in these types of offences is incredibly complex and nuanced, and you need an experienced lawyer to guide you through the process.
The consequences of a murder or manslaughter conviction are devastating to you, your family, and your future.
How Can a Murder / Manslaughter Lawyer Help You?
When facing the full force of the Crown’s authority, you don’t want to try to represent yourself. The best advice is to remain silent and to hire an experienced murder and manslaughter lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and to begin the task of constructing a viable defence.
The first step is getting your release from jail pending trial. Even defendants facing murder charges are entitled to reasonable bail in certain circumstances. No one wants to sit in jail when they can be back with their families, perhaps working and helping their lawyers construct a viable defence. At Bulwark Law, we don’t give up on bail but rigorously advocate for our client’s release.
An experienced murder and manslaughter lawyer can investigate the police to challenge their methods and how they secured evidence and witness testimony. An experienced murder and manslaughter lawyer can negotiate with prosecutors, develop a strategy, and prepare to go to trial if necessary. When prosecutors are facing criminal defence lawyers with a credible record of success, they are more likely to consider withdrawal of charges or charging lesser offences. Your future and your family’s future require rigorous defence from the very beginning of any criminal prosecution.
Contact Bulwark Law Today
No charges are more serious than murder and manslaughter. That is why you need Bulwark Law to fight for you. Our skilled lawyers have a reputation among judges and prosecutors in Calgary and throughout Alberta for fierce representation. We also have a comprehensive understanding of criminal law and procedure and know how to mount an effective defence. Contact us at 403 678 7360 today for a free initial consultation.