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Murder Lawyer Toronto

Defending Murder Charges

In Canada there is no charge more serious than an allegation of murder or manslaughter. Homicide offences, including first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter can attract lengthy jail sentences including the potential for life in prison. Clients facing murder or manslaughter charges need to very carefully consider the lawyer they want to hire to assist them with this most serious of matters.

Daniel Brown is among a select group of criminal defence lawyers who are certified as specialists in criminal law and has successfully represented numerous clients charged with murder, manslaughter and attempted murder. He has also obtained bail pending trial for several of his clients facing a murder allegation.

Given Daniel Brown’s extensive experience in murder cases, he is also frequently sought out by the media to comment on other high-profile trials currently before the courts. Follow the links below to view some of his interviews:

For more information on murder and manslaughter, read the following article. If you or someone you know needs assistance with a murder, attempted murder or manslaughter charge, call Daniel Brown immediately at (416) 297-7200.

Frequently asked questions about homicide: first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter

What is a homicide?

Homicide means the taking, directly or indirectly, of someone’s life. It includes fist-degree murder, second-degree murder, infanticide and manslaughter.

Canadian law recognizes that within the spectrum of homicide, there are different degrees of culpability. Thus, the broad category of homicide has been divided into three subcategories: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and manslaughter. Each subcategory reflects the level of responsibility of the alleged offender in the death.

What is first degree murder?

First-degree murder refers to a murder that is both planned and deliberate. A murder is planned if it was conceived of and thought out before it was carried out. A murder is deliberate if the acts involved were intended and purposeful. The plan to kill need not be elaborate or complicated and the deliberation need not be lengthy. All that matters is that some form of planning to kill the person occurred at some point and that they deliberately carried out the plan (successfully). An unsuccessful plan to kill someone may amount to attempted murder.

Can a murder that is not planned and deliberate be categorized as first-degree murder?

There are two reasons that a homicide could be categorized as first-degree murder regardless of whether it was planned or deliberate. Murdering a police officer (assuming the accused knew the person was a police officer) is always first-degree murder.

In addition, a murder is considered first-degree murder if it is committed in the course of the commission of particular enumerated offences such as a hijacking, sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, forcible confinement, hostage taking, terrorism, intimidation, or any offence committed on behalf of a criminal organization.

What is second-degree murder?

Second-degree murder is any murder that is not first-degree murder. A homicide is categorized as a murder if the defendant intended to kill the victim. Thus, second-degree murder is a catch-all category for all intentional homicides that do not fall under the specific categories of first-degree murder.

What is manslaughter?

Any culpable homicide that is not murder is manslaughter. Since “murder” is defined as the intentional killing of a human being, any murder committed without intent to kill is manslaughter. The most common types of manslaughter are unlawful act manslaughter and manslaughter by criminal negligence.

What is unlawful act manslaughter?

Unlawful act manslaughter refers to situations where an individual does something illegal that unintentionally leads to another person’s death. For example an intentional assault that unintentionally caused a person to die could be classified as unlawful act manslaughter.

What is criminal negligence causing death?

Manslaughter by criminal negligence requires that the person’s act or omission qualified as a “marked departure” from the standard of behaviour expected of a reasonable person in the circumstances. The offence also requires that death or bodily harm was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s act or omission. The foreseeability requirement means that a reasonable person in the defendant’s place would have realized that the actions or omissions perpetrated would put another individual’s life in danger.

In some cases, an omission can be considered criminal negligence if the defendant had a positive duty to act and failed to do so. This can be seen in person who has a duty to care for their child but fails to do so, resulting in the death of the child. However, absent a positive duty, such as that imposed on a parent towards their child, the law does not impose a duty on individuals to go to the aid of others in distress.

What are some defences to a murder charge?


In limited circumstances, a person who commits murder in a heat of passion caused by provocation could be reduced to manslaughter. This is because the courts view provocation as something which deprives an ordinary person of the power of self-control, thus negating the intent to kill.


Drunkenness or any drug induced mental state that would affect an individual’s ability to form the requisite intent to kill could also reduce murder to manslaughter.

What are the sentences for murder and manslaughter?

Though the distinctions between first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and manslaughter are meant to distinguish between more and less blameworthy behaviour, all three offences carry serious penalties.

Individuals found guilty of first or second-degree murder will automatically be sentenced to life in prison. A person convicted of first degree murder is only eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 25 years of their life sentence. A person convicted of second-degree murder will generally be eligible for parole after a minimum of 10 years imprisonment. It is within the Judges discretion to increase the parole ineligibility period up to a maximum of 25 years.

An individual convicted of manslaughter, the least culpable type of homicide, is still liable to a maximum penalty of imprisonment for life. In cases where manslaughter was committed using a firearm, the offence also carries a minimum sentence of four years. In other cases, there is no minimum sentence for manslaughter and the penalty is left to the discretion of the trial judge.

If someone you know is facing a homicide charge, you want to ensure that your lawyer has the knowledge and expertise to properly defend the case. Daniel Brown is a Toronto criminal lawyer who had successfully represented many people charged with homicide and, as a result, knows how to assist you in obtaining the best possible result.

For a consultation, Daniel Brown can be reached at (416) 297-7200.

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