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Section 222 of the Criminal Code criminalizes murder, the most serious crime under Canadian law. Murder involves intentionally causing the death of another person, with the knowledge that the act will likely result in death or with reckless disregard for human life.
The key elements of the offence of murder are:
Culpable Homicide: Murder involves culpable homicide, which means causing the death of a human being.
Intent: The accused person must either mean to cause the death of the victim or mean to cause bodily harm to the victim, knowing that it is likely to cause death, and they must be reckless as to whether death ensues.
Recklessness: Recklessness plays a crucial role in establishing murder. The accused must be reckless as to whether death ensues, which means they consciously disregard the risk that their actions will result in the victim's death.
There are two types of murder: first degree murder and second degree murder.
First degree murder refers to a murder that is “planned and deliberate”, or an unplanned killing that occurs during the commission of certain other serious crimes (e.g. kidnapping or sexual assault), or the killing of a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or other peace officer while they are on duty. A first degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Second degree murder involves the intentional killing of a person without planning and deliberation. A conviction for second degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with a possibility of parole after 10 years.
Because Canada does not have the death penalty, life imprisonment is the most severe penalty that can be imposed for a murder conviction.