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Murder Defence Lawyer in Toronto

A murder accusation is the most serious and complex criminal charge that one can face in Canada. How serious? Well, for starters, the penalty is life imprisonment with lengthy terms of parole eligibility.

Murder also attracts tenacious detectives and prosecutors to conduct detailed investigations and litigations. In other words, the possibility of facing harsh penalties for a homicide conviction is quite high, especially without expert legal representation.

Homicides are lengthy and complicated cases with very high stakes. Although there are various categories of homicide, all their consequences are quite severe and not just those imposed on sentencing. Therefore, if you have been arrested and charged with murder, it’s crucial to retain a criminal defence attorney with the necessary expertise to defend you and obtain the best possible results.

What is Homicide?

Homicide can be defined as causing the death of an individual, either directly or indirectly. It encompasses every type of murder, including premeditated and accidental ones.

As per the provisions of section 222 of the Criminal code:

  • A person commits culpable homicide when he causes the death of a human being,
  1. by means of an unlawful act;
  2. by criminal negligence;
  3. by causing that human being, by threats or fear of violence or by deception, to do anything that causes his death; or
  4. by wilfully frightening that human being, in the case of a child or sick person.

Depending on planning, deliberation and other elements, homicide can be broken down into first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter.

There is a huge difference between first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter, particularly when it comes to sentencing and parole eligibility.

Retaining an experienced murder defence lawyer can be the help you need to get your murder or manslaughter charge reduced or withdrawn. Therefore, i

f you’re facing homicide charges, contact Jeffrey Reisman today for a free assessment of your case.

What is murder?

Murder is the most severe category of culpable homicide and the most serious charge that one can face. According to section 229 of the Criminal Code, culpable homicide is murder:

  1. where the person who causes the death of a human being
    1. means to cause his death, or
    2. means to cause him bodily harm that he knows is likely to cause his death, and is reckless whether death ensues or not;
  2. where a person, meaning to cause death to a human being or meaning to cause him bodily harm that he knows is likely to cause his death, and being reckless whether death ensues or not, by accident or mistake causes death to another human being, notwithstanding that he does not mean to cause death or bodily harm to that human being; or
  3. if a person, for an unlawful object, does anything that they know is likely to cause death, and by doing so causes the death of a human being, even if they desire to effect their object without causing death or bodily harm to any human being.

There are two categories of murder charges, i.e., first-degree murder charges and second-degree murder charges.

What is First-Degree Murder?

Homicide is murder in the first degree if it is premeditated and deliberate. This means that you intentionally took another person’s life after thinking about it and purposefully doing something that led to their death. The plan for the act does not need to be sophisticated or lengthy. As long as you thought about killing that person and intentionally did it, you’ll face first-degree murder charges. Also, if you contracted another person to do it, it’s still planned and deliberated murder. If you intended to commit murder but were unsuccessful, you’ll be charged with attempted murder.

Note that murder doesn’t have to be planned and deliberate to be in the first degree. It’s still in the first degree if it happens during the commission of another criminal offence, such as sexual assault, hijacking, kidnapping, forcible confinement, intimidation, criminal harassment, terrorism or activities connected to a criminal organization. Also, if the victim is a police officer or a prison employee, you’ll automatically face first-degree murder charges.

What is Second-Degree Murder?

Any murder that is not first-degree murder is second-degree murder. Remember that culpable homicide is murder if the accused planned and deliberated the victim’s death. Therefore, any intentional homicides that do not reach the requirements to be classified as first-degree murders are second-degree murders.

In other words, second-degree murders are deliberate murders that were not planned, where the victim was not a police officer or prison worker and did not result from the commission of another serious crime.

What is Manslaughter?

Based on the provisions of section 234 of the Canadian Criminal Code, manslaughter is any culpable homicide that is not murder. Since murder is the intentional taking of another person’s life either directly or indirectly, any homicide committed without the intent to kill is manslaughter.

On rare occasions, murder charges can be reduced to manslaughter if the defendant committed the act in the heat of passion caused by provocation.

Manslaughter often results from doing something likely to cause the death of another individual but doing it despite the risks. As per the law, a reasonable person should have known the possible consequences of their actions.

Manslaughter can be broadly categorized into two:

1)    Unlawful Act of Manslaughter

This entails doing something illegal that results in the unintended death of another person. For example, intentionally injecting someone with cocaine with no intention to cause death, but the person ends up dead could be categorized as an unlawful act of manslaughter.

2)    Criminal Negligence Causing Death

Criminal negligence causing death occurs when a person does or omits to do something that is their duty to do, causing another person’s death. To be charged with this offence, the defendant must have known that by doing or omitting to do their duty, bodily harm was a possible outcome. This charge is based on the behaviour expected from a reasonable person if put in a similar situation as the accused, i.e., a reasonable person would have realized that their actions or omissions will put a person’s life in danger.

Although manslaughter is the least culpable type of homicide, the penalties and long-term effects on a person’s life are still very severe. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to seek expert legal representation.

What is The Penalty for First and Second Degree Murder?

The classification of murder into first-degree and second-degree is to help establish the level of blameworthiness regarding a homicide offence. Although a second-degree murder requires a lesser degree of blameworthiness than a first-degree one, a conviction for either of the offences results in the same sentence – life imprisonment. This is the minimum mandatory sentence.

However, the time you must serve before you’re eligible for parole varies greatly. A person sentenced to life imprisonment for first-degree murder will be eligible for parole only after serving at least 25 years of their sentence. However, the prosecution can seek consecutive life sentences for persons accused of killing more than one person, which means you’ll also have successive periods of parole ineligibility.

A conviction for a second-degree murder results in a life sentence, with a possibility of parole after serving a minimum of 10 years. However, a Judge can increase the waiting period before parole eligibility to a maximum of 25 years, depending on specific aggravating factors.

The difference between parole eligibility is important for persons accused of murder. If you’re charged with first-degree murder, your lawyer can fight and have the charges lowered to second-degree murder, if not a better outcome. Therefore, having a skilled homicide defence lawyer from the beginning of your case is vital as they’ll vigorously defend you throughout the process.

Contact Jeffrey Reisman for an experienced assessment of your case.

What is The Penalty for Manslaughter?

Given that manslaughter entails the unintentional killing of another person, its penalties are less severe compared to murder. One is still liable to a life sentence, but it’s not the mandatory minimum. The actual sentence imposed varies per case, and it’s at the judge’s discretion.

However, if the accused used a firearm to commit manslaughter, there’s a minimum sentence of 4 years in prison.

Although manslaughter is a less culpable homicide offence, it still carries serious penalties and lifelong consequences. Therefore, if you or someone you know is facing manslaughter charges, it’s requisite to seek legal advice. Call Jeffrey Reisman, Toronto criminal defence lawyer, to schedule your free consultation.

Defences For Murder and Manslaughter Charges

Murder and manslaughter offences are quite hard to defend. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to, especially when a highly experienced, knowledgeable and committed criminal defence lawyer is handling your case.

One of the many reasons homicide offences are notoriously difficult to defend is that the law surrounding homicide is a complex and nuanced area of criminal law. With years of criminal law practice, first as a prosecutor and now as a defence attorney, Jeff Reisman knows how to navigate the law and use it to device potential defence strategies that benefit his clients.

Some of the defences and partial defences to murder and manslaughter charges that Jeff Reisman has used to protect his clients include:

  • Lack of intent

This is a partial defence to a murder charge. A murder charge requires the accused to take another person’s life intentionally. If your lawyer can prove that you did not form the specific intent required to commit murder, your charges can be dropped to manslaughter, which requires the foreseeability of bodily harm without the intent to kill.

  • Provocation

As per the provisions of section 232 of the Criminal Code, if a person kills in the heat of passion resulting from provocation by the victim, the murder charge can be reduced to manslaughter. Provocation is a partial defence introduced to acknowledge that humans are frail and sometimes lose self-control.

  • Self-Defence

This is one of the most common full defences for murder charges. As per section 34 of the Criminal Code, one is not guilty of an offence if they’re acting purely to defend themselves or another person from the use of force or threat of violence, as long as their actions are reasonable per the given circumstances.

The Court considers several factors in evaluating whether the accused acted in self-defence, including the nature of the threat, the relationship between the parties involved, the accused’s role in the incident, and if there were other possible means to respond to the use of force, among others.

  • Intoxication

Intoxication is another partial defence available for murder charges. The defence argues that the accused person could not form the required intent to kill due to impairment by alcohol or drugs. If your lawyer can establish intoxication, the murder charge can be reduced to manslaughter.

  • Mental Disorder

If the defendant had a mental disorder at the time of the murder, they could be found not criminally responsible. Also, a mental disorder raises the question of whether the accused had the ability to form the requisite intent to commit murder.

  • Raising Reasonable Doubt

In homicide cases, the Crown has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused actually killed the deceased. Therefore, when there’s no hard evidence that the defendant is the culprit, a murder defence lawyer can raise doubts about the Crown’s circumstantial evidence or point to another suspect with more motive and opportunity to commit the murder.

Keep in mind that each case is different and requires a different approach to attain the best possible results. Don’t plead guilty to murder or manslaughter charges! Speak to a skilled Toronto murder defence lawyer for legal advice.

 Contact an Experienced Murder Defence Attorney

Facing a murder charge can be quite scary and confusing for you and your family. It’s important to protect your rights by enlisting the services of an experienced criminal defence lawyer, such as Jeffrey Reisman. With more than 20 years of experience practising criminal law, he has the knowledge and skills to defend persons facing murder charges and get favourable results. He’ll thoroughly review your case details, determine its strengths and weaknesses, and come up with the best way to proceed.

Expert legal representation is vital in every case, no matter the evidence against you. It can be the difference between a guilty and a not-guilty verdict, a life sentence and a decade in prison. Therefore, if you’re charged with homicide, do not hesitate to contact Jeffrey Reisman, a Toronto murder defence attorney, for a free consultation.

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Jeffrey is as shrewd as they come, He cares about your freedom and overall outcome. Court is no joke and I feel most comfortable with Jeffrey on my side.

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I hired Jeff after arrested for impaired driving/and over .80. He was accessible and always answered his phone when I had questions. He eventually had my case reduced so I didn’t have to undergo a year licence suspension. Hope I never go through this again but if I did would definitely hire him again.

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