Murder is perhaps the single most serious criminal offense. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the killing, a person who is convicted of murder may be sentenced to many years in prison, a prison sentence with no possibility of Parole, or death. Murder is defined as one person killing another person with malice aforethought. Malice is defined as the knowledge and intention or desire to do evil. Malice aforethought is found when one person kills another person with the intention to do so.
Murder usually is broken down into degrees:
First-degree murder convictions typically draw the harshest sentences of any crime. As with the elements of the crime and defenses available, sentencing can vary from province to province. Possible sentences are outlined in state statutes, although even where there are strict statutory guidelines, courts can still have some leeway to determine which sentence a convicted murderer will receive based on the facts of the case.
Some states will include the murder to be premeditated; others, however, have no such requirement. Many provinces disagree over the definition of premeditation, and as such, many provinces no longer include premeditation as a requirement of first-degree murder.
Sentence: Because first-degree murder constitutes a very serious crime, a conviction results in very serious punishment. A conviction for first-degree murder can result in the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The designation for second-degree murder is placed on a defendant when it is believed the murder was committed without it being deliberate or premeditated. It may even be clear that the defendant wanted to cause harm to the victim, but there was not an intent to kill.
Many times, a situation arises where the defendant becomes so instantly enraged that only wanting to harm goes beyond what was anticipated and the victim dies. Second-degree murder typically involves jail time and in some serious cases lead to a life sentence.
According to the law, whoever causes the death of a human being, without intent to effect the death of any person, while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense other than criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree with force or violence or a drive-by shooting” is guilty of murder in the second degree. Typically, second-degree murder is defined as murder that is not premeditated, or murder that is caused by the offender’s reckless conduct that displays an obvious lack of concern for human life.
Sentence: The minimum sentence is life in prison with no parole for 10 years, but sentences can be as long as life in prison without parole for 25 years.
Manslaughter is also the unlawful killing of another person or persons, but without any malice but still involves a “conscious disregard for human life.” Manslaughter can be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter is when the act of murder is committed in either the heat of passion or in the defense of yourself or others. Involuntary manslaughter is when a killing is unintentional and the result of recklessness or criminal negligence, such as an unlawful misdemeanor act or low-level felony such as a DUI.
Murder can be reduced to manslaughter where the accused committed the offence “in the heat of passion caused by sudden provocation” where they acted suddenly without sufficient time for their “passion to cool off” (Criminal Code, s. 232, ss. 1-2).
Culpable homicide can either indicate whether or not the killing of a human being involved malice aforethought on the part of the defendant.
Malice aforethought exists when an individual acts with:
The essentials of Culpable Homicide are :
According to the criminal code 232 (1) Culpable homicide that otherwise would be murder may be reduced to manslaughter if the person who committed it did so in the heat of passion caused by sudden provocation.
Those convicted of 1st degree murder all receive the same sentence life imprisonment with parole eligibility after 25 years. A 20 year old convicted of 1st degree murder will be eligible for parole at the age of 45 (and will likely receive parole if he behaves himself in prison, admits responsibility, and shows an interest in rehabilitating himself).
For an adult who has been convicted of second degree murder, they will need to serve between ten and twenty-five years, as determined by the courts (Criminal Code, s. 235).
Everyone has legal rights and it is important for them to be defended in the best possible way. Murder and manslaughter charges are the most serious that anyone can face, but it is crucial for the accused to take advantage of their right to defend him or herself in the court of law. If you have been charged with 1st,2nd or third-degree murder, you will want to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to determine what defenses can be used to protect you from lifelong consequences.
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