Section 229 of the Criminal Code defines the crime of murder. The offence is established if the Crown proves beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- the accused caused the person’s death
- that the death was caused by an unlawful act; and
- the accused had the requisite statement of mind: either that the accused meant to kill the victim, or meant to cause the victim bodily harm that the accused knew was likely to kill the victim, and was reckless whether the victim died or not.
Section 231 of the Criminal Code classifies murder for sentencing purposes as first degree murder or second degree murder. Every murder is either first degree murder or second degree murder. It is not and cannot be both.
First degree murder occurs when the elements of murder are made out and when one of the following circumstances is proven beyond a reasonable doubt:
- the murder is planned and deliberate;
- the murder in contracted;
- the victim is a police officer or prison employee;
- the murder is committed while committing certain other offences, such as sexual assault, forcible confinement, terrorist offence or criminal organization offences
Issues that typically arise in murder cases will be discussed in future blog posts.