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.
A person commits the offence of kidnapping when they intend to cause another person, against that person’s will, to be confined or imprisoned, to be transported out of Canada, or to be held for ransom or to service.
Person A locks person B in their basement for several hours against person B’s will as a prank. Person A is aware person B wants to be let out but refuses.
Person C puts person D into the trunk of a car against person D’s will and drives person D across the border to the United States.
Person E keeps person F locked in their bedroom until person G pays person E a $250,000 ransom.
R. v Gosk, 2016 ONSC 2185
In R. v. Gosk, the accused was charged with one count of kidnapping when he and six friends abducted the victim from the victim’s workplace and handcuffed him to a pole in the basement of a house where he was held for a million-dollar ransom.
R. v. Ramdeo, 2021 ONSC 1784
In R. v. Ramdeo, the accused was convicted on one count of kidnapping when he bound and forced the victim into his car, threatening to kill the victim if he left the car, in an attempt to get information on a friend of the victim who owed the accused money.
R. v. Gunalingam, 2014 ONSC 7347
In R. v. Gunalingam, the three accused were charged with kidnapping when they forced entry into the victim’s home and confined her to her basement before transporting her to another home where she was tied to a bed and sexually assaulted for two days.
Offence Specific Defence(s)
Where the person does not intend to hold the other captive, they may not have completed the offence of kidnapping. For example, if person A steals a car and drives it across the border into the United States unaware that person B is hiding in the backseat, person A has not completed the offence of kidnapping. They have, however, committed a theft offence.
Where the person is willingly being confined somewhere or transported out of Canada, the person confining or transporting them may not have completed the offence of kidnapping.