What's The Difference Between Murder & Manslaughter?

The distinction between murder and manslaughter can often get confused and the two carry very different characteristics in the eyes of the law. When someone dies as a result of murder, it can lead to a lengthy and complicated criminal court case where murders are defined under multiple categories.

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Criminal Law

These circumstances help to influence the overall consequences for the accused. So, what is the difference between murder and manslaughter? Well, if you want the answer to that question, you’ve come to the right place. At What The Law, our primary interest is ensuring that you have all the information you need regarding all aspects of criminal law. 

That’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to the difference between murder and manslaughter to help you understand the ins and outs of this type of criminal law. 

Today, we’ll be discussing murder and manslaughter charges in Ontario, criminal negligence and where you can find a criminal lawyer.


Murder is one of the most serious crimes someone can commit in the eyes of Canada’s Criminal Code, meaning that it carries some of the most damning consequences for the accused. However, it's easy to group all crimes that result in death under the ‘murder’ umbrella, whereas the reality is far more complicated. There are three categories in which murder relates to, murder in the first degree, second-degree murder and manslaughter. 

First-degree murder refers to a homicide that the accused carries out after planning it - this means that the resulting death was deliberate and is sometimes known as a ‘contract killing’. The typical sentence for a first-degree murder charge includes an automatic life sentence. Unlike other charges, first-degree murder charges do not permit the possibility of parole after 25 years. 

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