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Manslaughter and Self-Defence Laws in Toronto

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Could You Be Charged With Manslaughter or Murder?

Not every homicide is a murder. Some homicides are considered manslaughter. Others are justifiable homicides – acts of self-defence. If you are charged with manslaughter or murder in or near the Toronto area, you must contact a Toronto homicide lawyer at once.

The law in Ontario distinguishes several different homicide charges and imposes different penalties for convictions on those charges. But for homicide investigators, distinguishing between murder, manslaughter, and justifiable homicide can sometimes be quite difficult.

Homicide cases are complicated. Timelines must be confirmed. Witnesses must be interrogated. Medical evidence and the cause of death are key elements. Sentences are quite harsh for most murder and manslaughter convictions, so authorities must determine the appropriate charge.

What Constitutes Self-Defence in Ontario?

The right to defend yourself, your property, and other persons is a basic right of all Canadians, but the self-defence laws in Canada are complicated and easily misunderstood. The law allows you to take “reasonable” action to protect yourself, your property, and others.

What constitutes reasonable action? Action to protect yourself or others must be “proportional.” You may use no more force than is necessary to protect yourself or others. For example, you can’t use a firearm to shoot and kill an unarmed person who punches you in the nose.

If you use deadly force against another person, and your case goes to trial, you and your Ontario homicide lawyer will have to explain to the court that you had no other option to protect yourself or others against severe injury or death.

Whether deadly force is legally justified depends on the nature of the threat, and in some cases, a person who uses deadly force could be charged with and convicted of manslaughter, even for an act of self-defence, if deadly force was not in fact needed in order to avoid severe injury or death.

What Constitutes Manslaughter in Ontario?

The distinction between murder and manslaughter dates back to the laws of ancient Greece. While murder is the intentional killing of another person, manslaughter is homicide committed with no intention to cause death, although bodily harm may or may not have been intended.

In most cases in Ontario, if someone’s death is the direct consequence of a criminal offence that you have committed or a direct consequence of your reckless behavior, you will probably be placed under arrest and charged with manslaughter.

For example, if you discharge a firearm in public and you accidentally kill someone, you will probably face a manslaughter charge. If you punch someone because you intend to hurt but not kill that person, but that person dies from being punched, you may be convicted of manslaughter.

When May a Murder Charge Be Reduced to Manslaughter?

A murder charge in Ontario may sometimes be reduced to manslaughter if a defendant acted in the “heat of passion” due to a sudden provocation. In other cases, a murder charge is sometimes reduced to manslaughter if a defendant’s mental capacity was impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.

In order to convict you of manslaughter in Ontario, the Crown prosecutor is not required to prove that you intended the victim’s death. Instead, the Crown prosecutor must establish only that the victim’s death was a direct consequence of your criminal or reckless behavior.

What Are the Defences to a Manslaughter Charge?

Of course, to win a manslaughter conviction against you, the Crown prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The Ontario homicide lawyer who represents you will cast doubt on the Crown prosecutor’s evidence and may argue that you acted in self-defence.

In other cases, your defence lawyer may contend that the manslaughter case against you should be dismissed because law enforcement officers violated your rights as spelled out by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

How Are Manslaughter Convictions Penalized in Ontario?

What is considered when the exact sentence for a manslaughter conviction is determined? The court will consider the details of the crime, the offender’s previous convictions (if any), the victim’s vulnerability, the offender’s mental health, and his or her remorse or lack of remorse.

The maximum sentence for a manslaughter conviction in Ontario is life in prison. If no firearm was involved, a manslaughter conviction does not entail a minimum penalty, but if a firearm was used, a convicted offender must serve at least a minimum sentence of four years in prison.

A life sentence doesn’t necessarily mean an offender will stay in prison for life; instead, a convicted-for-life offender will be supervised for life by the Correctional Service of Canada. Exactly when the offender becomes eligible for parole will depend on the details of the sentence.

When Should You Contact a Defence Lawyer?

If you have been charged with murder or manslaughter in or near the Toronto area, or if that occurs in the future, your freedom will be in severe jeopardy. You will need to be advised and represented – as quickly as possible – by an experienced Toronto homicide lawyer.

You will need a lawyer who effectively protects your rights, aggressively advocates for justice on your behalf, ensures that your side of the story is told and understood, and fights for the best possible outcome to your murder or manslaughter case.

Let William Jaksa Criminal Litigation Handle Your Homicide Case

If you are charged with murder or manslaughter in the Toronto area, take your case at once to William Jaksa Criminal Litigation. With almost two decades of criminal defence experience, William Jaksa knows what it takes to bring your homicide case to its best possible resolution.

Defence lawyer William Jaksa is a member of the Canadian Bar Association and the Criminal Lawyers Association. At William Jaksa Criminal Litigation, he leads a team that has built a reputation for outstanding client service and legal excellence. We represent clients in Toronto and throughout Ontario.

If you are charged with murder or manslaughter, immediately schedule a legal consultation with William Jaksa Criminal Litigation by calling our Toronto law offices at 647-951-8078. William Jaksa Criminal Litigation knows how to put the law to work for you.

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