The offence of murder is outlined in section 229 of the Criminal Code. Murder can either be first-degree murder or second-degree murder.
A person commits the offence of murder when they kill someone intending to kill them or intending to cause them bodily harm that is likely to kill them. A person also commits murder when they intend to kill or cause bodily harm likely to kill someone, but they accidentally cause the death of another person. A person also commits murder when, to do something illegal, they do something they know is likely to kill someone and in so doing they kill someone.
First Degree Murder
Where the murder is planned and deliberate; where the murder victim is a peace officer or employee of a prison; where the murder is committed while committing or trying to commit hijacking, sexual assault, kidnapping, criminal harassment, or terrorism offences; or where the murder is committed for or by a criminal organization, it is first-degree murder.
All murder that is not first-degree murder is second-degree murder.
First Degree Murder
Person A is angry at person B and goes to person B’s house with a knife to kill him. Person A stabs person B 30 times in the chest, killing person B.
Person A comes up with a plan to kill person B, and while executing the plan they confuse person C, who is a police officer, for person B and accidentally kill person C instead of person B.
Person D kills person E, a prison employee, while escaping from prison.
Second Degree Murder
Person A gets into a heated argument with person B at a bar. Person A pulls out a gun and shoots person B multiple times, killing them.
Person B only wants to hurt person C and not kill them, but person B knows they are hitting person C hard enough to kill him and person C dies.
R. v. Simon, 2010 ONCA 754
In R. v. Simon, the accused was convicted of one count of second-degree murder when he and another party shot and killed their drug dealer during a drug sale.
R. v. Singh, 2021 ONSC 7369
In R. v. Singh, the accused was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder when he forcibly confined his wife and mother-in-law, cornering them and dragging them around the house, as he stabbed and hit them almost 100 times after an intense argument about the accused’s son.
Offence Specific defence(s)
Where the person does not die, the person who harmed them or intended to kill them or cause them bodily harm has not completed the offence of murder.
Where a person does not intend to kill anyone or to cause anyone bodily harm likely to kill them, and they are not doing anything illegal, they may not have completed the offence of murder by causing that person’s death.
Medical Assistance in Dying
Where a medical or nurse practitioner is providing a person with medical assistance in dying in accordance with all the relevant laws and regulations, they will not have completed the offence of murder.
Where a female person has killed their own newborn child, they may not have committed the offence of murder but instead committed the offence of infanticide.
If the person who committed the murder was provoked, meaning their victim was committing a criminal offence that caused the person to lose their control and react before regaining their cool, or the person knew they were being illegally arrested causing them to lose their control and react before regaining their control, the person may be convicted of manslaughter instead of murder.