Difference between Murder and Manslaughter in Canada

Murder and Manslaughter

Very often, we hear about manslaughter and murder on TV. The final result is the same (a dead person) between these terms. However, there are differences that when judging the case will determine a greater or lesser penalty.

But what does the law say, and what is the difference between murder and manslaughter? Here is a short guide to find out and to understand what do these mean and what the difference is.

What are the Main Types of Homicide Foreseen by The Penal Code?

Our penal code provides for three main types of homicide: intentional, unintentional, and negligent.

The first, intentional murder, is that homicide committed with the clear intent of killing, therefore causing death.

An example: a person who has problems with the victim, perhaps a neighbor, and goes to his home armed to kill him. Or the murderer could be someone who plays the victim’s death.

It is not always easy to prove malice. To do so, you have to bring out the murderer’s clear intentions to cause death.

Manslaughter, however, is a murder that goes beyond the intention. It is usually caused by beating or injuries that lead to death. This is a less serious offense than willful murder, but it is still punished with severe penalties.

Wrongful death is a homicide that is committed without intent to kill the victim. The culprit, therefore, has no intention of killing but commits acts that cause death, albeit unintentionally.

What is Murder in Canada?

Murder is considered when a person causes the death of another and carries it out with one of the three assumptions:

  • ‘Treachery’ is carried out treacherously and/or when it is known that the victim will not be able to defend oneself),
  • ‘Cruelty’ (deliberately and inhumanly increasing the suffering of the victim) or
  • ‘Concurrence of price’ (committing the crime in exchange for economic or material retribution).


Committing murder is punishable by a penalty ranging from 15 to 20 years in prison. It can rise to a life sentence if there are two or more specific circumstances of the crime. Although, the life sentence can have parole eligibility after 25 years.

For example, it was committed with cruelty and treachery, with the concurrence of price and treachery, with any combination of all three or all three at the same time.

What is Manslaughter in Canada?

Manslaughter is also considered when one person causes the death of another. But the crime does not contemplate any of the three assumptions cited in the section on murder. You can have the intention to kill someone but not be cruel.

What is voluntary manslaughter?

Voluntary is when someone does it under provocation. The provocation might be to such a point that he is unable to control his emotion. It can be cited as ‘heat of passion or moment.’

For example, during a fight between two friends, one friend loses control and hits another. And as a result, he dies.

Read Also: Difference between 1st 2nd and 3rd Degree Murders

What is involuntary manslaughter?

The crime of homicide also includes the assumption that someone kills another person, but it has been without intention. Involuntary manslaughter can be

  • Traffic accident, run over, etc.
  • Because of a failure or negligence ‘negligent homicide’ (for example, a failure by the doctor during a surgical operation)

These two types of homicide can also be called ‘wrongful death.’

There is another type, namely attempted manslaughter. It is when someone attempts to kill someone in the heat of the moment.

Within the category of homicide, we can find if it has been committed due to negligence, which can be classified as serious or slight.


The penalty for manslaughter has a wide range depending on the type of homicide.

  • Reckless homicide is punishable by penalties of between 1 and 4 years.
  • When it is intentional manslaughter, it ranges from 10 to 15 years in prison.

What is the difference between Murder and Manslaughter?

So we have seen what is meant by manslaughter and murder. But what are the main differences between these types of homicide? In reality, it would be enough just to reflect on the definition to understand how they differ from each other.

Intentional murder, as we have seen, implies intent, so the murderer acts with conscience and the will to kill. In manslaughter, if the culprit had followed common-sense regulations, the victim’s death would not have occurred. To ascertain this type of homicide, one must therefore proceed with a judgment of logical probability.

When Homicide Turns to Murder

The murder is a malicious homicide with treachery, cruelty, or premeditation. Within this typology, those who commit homicides under the following circumstances are sentenced as prisoners of murder:

  • With treachery
  • By price, reward, or promise
  • With cruelty
  • To facilitate the commission of another crime or prevent it from being discovered.

If more than one of these circumstances occurs, it is also considered murder, and the penalty is stated earlier.

In addition, murder and a reviewable prison sentence are contemplated in cases where:

  • The victim is under the age of sixteen or is a particularly vulnerable person (either due to age, illness, or disability)
  • That homicide is committed following a crime against sexual freedom.
  • The crime is committed by a member of a criminal group or organization.
  • That more than two homicides are committed

Final Verdict

If you find yourself in one of these unfortunate situations, contact a lawyer. Or, if you think that a person close to you may be entitled to compensation, do not hesitate to contact an expert. Only an expert lawyer can tell you the difference between murder and manslaughter.



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