|s. 236 of the Crim. Code|
|Election / Plea|
Sup. Court w/ Jury (*)
4 years incarceration (manslaughter w/ firearm)
- 1 Overview
- 2 Offence Wording
- 3 Proof of the Offence
- 4 Interpretation
- 5 Participation of Third Parties
- 6 Sentencing Principles and Ranges
- 7 Principles
- 8 Ranges
- 9 Ancillary Sentencing Order
- 10 Record Suspensions and Pardons
- 11 See Also
Generally, homicide is the causing of death of another person (s.222(1)), irrespective of whether there was any intention to cause death or if it was by accident. There is culpable homicide and non-culpable homicide.(s. 222(2)).
Culpable homicide refers to the types of homicide for which there are criminal penalties. It includes causing death (s.222(5)):
- by means of an unlawful act,
- by criminal negligence,
- by causing that human being, by threats or fear of violence or by deception, to do anything that causes his death, or
- by wilfully frightening that human being, in the case of a child or sick person.
These methods are all categorized as either murder, manslaughter, or infanticide.(s.222(4))
|Crown Election||Defence Election
|s. 236 [manslaughter]||Indictable Offence(s)||N/A|
When charged under s. 236 [manslaughter], the accused can be given a judicial summons without arrest. If arrested, he can be released by the arresting officer under s. 498 or 499 on an undertaking with or without conditions. He can also be released by a justice under s. 515.
Under s. 515(6)(a)(vii), offences charged under s. 344 have a reverse onus on bail where it has "been committed with a firearm".
- Reverse Onus Bail
If police decide to bring the accused before a Justice pursuant to s. 503, there will be a presumption against bail (i.e. a reverse onus) if the offence, prosecuted by indictment, was committed:
- while at large under s. 515 [bail release], 679 or 680 [release pending appeal or review of appeal] (s. 515(6)(a)(i));
- "for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association" with a criminal organization (s. 515(6)(a)(ii));
- where the offence involved a firearm, cross-bow, prohibited weapon restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or explosive substance, while the accused was subject to a prohibition order preventing possession of these items (s. 515(6)(a)(viii)); or
- where the accused is not "ordinarily a resident in Canada" (s. 515(6)(b)).
- Publication Bans
For all criminal or regulatory prosecutions, there is a discretionary general publication ban available on application of the Crown, victim or witness to prohibit the publishing of "any information that could identify the victim or witness" under s. 486.5(1) where it is "necessary" for the "proper administration of justice". Other available publication bans include prohibitions for publishing evidence or other information arising from a bail hearing (s. 517), preliminary inquiry (s. 539) or jury trial (s. 648). There is a mandatory publication ban in all youth prosecutions on information tending to identify young accused under s. 110 of the YCJA or young victims under s. 111 of the YCJA.
- Offence Designations
|AG Consent Required||Serious Criminality|
s. 36 IRPA
|s. 236 [manslaughter]|
See below in Ancillary Sentencing Orders for details on designations relating to sentencing orders.
Draft Form of Charges
|"THAT [accused full name] stands charged that, between the <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR> and <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR>***, at or near <COMMUNITY/TOWN/CITY>, <PROVINCE>, he [or she]..." OR|
|"THAT [accused full name] stands charged that, on or about the <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR>, at or near <COMMUNITY/TOWN/CITY>, <PROVINCE>, he [or she]..." OR|
|"AND FURTHER at the same time and place aforesaid, he [or she]..."|
|Code Section||Subject of Offence||Draft Wording|
|"..., contrary to section XXX of the Criminal Code.|
Proof of the Offence
Proving manslaughter under s. 234, 236 should include:
"Manslaughter" is not explicitly defined in the Code. Section 234 states that "[c]ulpable homicide that is not murder or infanticide is manslaughter."
It exists in the broad zone of being less than murder and more than accident causing death. It differentiate itself from murder by state of mine of the accused where there is an absence of an "intention to kill the victim".
Unlawful Act Manslaughter
The underlying unlawful act must be "objectively dangerous, that is likely to injure another person"
The test requires an "objective foreseeability of the risk of bodily harm which is neither trivial nor transitory, in the context of a dangerous act."  There is no need to establish a foreseeability of death.
R v Denny, 2016 NSSC 76 (CanLII), per Rosinski J, at para 2 ("It is the spectrum of criminal responsibility for unlawfully causing the death of another person, ranging from circumstances of “near accident” to “near murder”.")
R v LaBerge, 1995 ABCA 196 (CanLII), per Fraser CJ, at para 6 ("...the offence of unlawful act manslaughter covers a wide range of cases extending from those which may be classified as near accident at the one extreme and near murder at the other")
Denny, supra, at para 7
R v Quinn, 2016 ABPC 121 (CanLII), per Allen J, at para 10
- R v Creighton, 1993 CanLII 61 (SCC),  3 SCR 3, 105 DLR (4th) 632, per McLachlin J, at para 43
- R v DeSousa, 1992 CanLII 80 (SCC),  2 SCR 944, per Sopinka J, at p. 961
- Creighton, supra, at p. 58 ("Objective mens rea, on the other hand, is not concerned with what the accused intended or knew. Rather, the mental fault lies in the failure to direct the mind to her risk which the reasonable person would have appreciated. Objective mens rea is not concern with what was actually in the accused’s mind, but what should have been there, had the accused proceeded reasonably.")
- DeSousa, supra, at p. 961 (SCR)
Creighton, supra, at para 43
DeSousa, supra, at p. 961
Participation of Third Parties
- Testimonial Aids
Certain persons who testify are entitled to make application for the use of testimonial aids: Exclusion of Public (s. 486), Use of a Testimonial Screen (s. 486), Access to Support Person While Testifying (s. 486.1), Close Proximity Video-link Testimony (s. 486.2), Self-Represented Cross-Examination Prohibition Order (s. 486.3), and Witness Security Order (s. 486.7).
A witness, victim or complainant may also request publication bans (s. 486.4, 486.5) and/or a Witness Identity Non-disclosure Order (s. 486.31). See also, Publication Bans, above.
- On Finding of Guilt
s. 606(4.1), (4.2)
|Victim Notice |
of Impact Statement
|s. 236 [manslaughter]|
Under s. 738, a judge must inquire from the Crown before sentencing whether "reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victims with an opportunity to indicate whether they are seeking restitution for their losses and damages".
Under s. 722(2), the judge must inquire "[a]s soon as feasible" before sentencing with the Crown "if reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victim with an opportunity to prepare" a victim impact statement. This will include any person "who has suffered, or is alleged to have suffered, physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss" as a result of the offence. Individuals representing a community impacted by the crime may file a statement under s. 722.2.
Sentencing Principles and Ranges
- Maximum Penalties
Offences under s. 236 [manslaughter] are straight indictable. The maximum penalty is life incarceration.
- Minimum Penalties
For offences under s. 236 [with firearm] there is a mandatory minimum penalty of 4 years incarceration.
- Available Dispositions
s. 718.3, 787
|s. 236 [manslaughter]||any|
If convicted under s. 236 a discharge is not available under s. 730(1) as it is "an offence for which a minimum punishment is prescribed by law or an offence punishable by imprisonment for fourteen years or for life".
Offences under s. 236 are ineligible for a conditional sentence order under s. 742.1(b) and (c), as there are mandatory minimum periods of incarceration and, when prosecuted by indictment, the maximum penalty is 14 years or life.
- Consecutive Sentences
There are no statutory requirements that the sentences be consecutive.
Courts have rejected the creation of subcategories of manslaughter for the purpose of sentencing.
Most manslaughter cases fall within the range of 4 to 15 years. Some opinions have suggested that the top range should be around 10 years since second degree murder will effectively be a 10 year sentence.
Manslaughter runs a broad spectrum of unlawful acts ranging from near accidents to near murders. The distinction is the level of moral culpability.
One factor to moral culpability is the nature of the unlawful act, including the level risk arising from the act and the foreseeability of the risk. This can be divided into three categories:
- Lowest: risk of bodily harm
- Mid: risk of serious bodily harm
- Highest: risk of life-threatening injury
What has been called "aggravated manslaughter" will range from 8 to 12 years in Ontario.
The Court may consider many aspects of the offence including:
- choice of weapon used,
- the degree of force used,
- extent of injuries,
- degree of violence or brutality,
- amount of additional gratuitous violence,
the degree of deliberation or planning,
- the complexity of the act,
- whether the offence was provoked
- the time taken to perpetrate the
- the elements of chance involved in the resulting death
R v Henry, 2002 NSCA 33 (CanLII), per Roscoe JA (3:0), at para 16
R v Pettigrew, 1990 CanLII 5417 (BC CA), (1990), 56 CCC (3d) 390 (BCCA), per Taylor JA (2:1)
R v Vaudreuil, 1995 CanLII 348 (BC CA), (1995), 98 CCC (3d) 316 (BCCA), per McEachern JA (5:0)
- R v Peters, 2014 BCSC 1009 (CanLII), per Romilly J, at para 12
Peters, supra, at para 12
e.g. R v Cheddesingh, 2004 SCC 16 (CanLII), per McLachlin CJ (7:0)
R v Devaney, 2006 CanLII 33666 (ON CA),  OJ No 3996, 215 O.A.C. 253 (C.A.), per Feldman JA (3:0)
R v Alexander, 2014 ONCA 22 (CanLII), per Cronk JA (3:0)
R v Lawrence (1999), 172 N.S.R. (2d) 375 (NSCA), 2011 NSSC 186 (CanLII), per Cacchione J - 4 to 10 years range
R v Brisson, 2009 BCSC 1606 (CanLII), per Joyce J - 4 to 15 years
R v Gillies (1998), 107 BCAC 157, 1998 CanLII 6387 (BC CA), per McEachern JA, at para 14 ("It must be remembered that while the sentence for second degree murder would be life without eligibility for parole for ten years, the effective sentence in most such cases is ten years and that is a good reason why the range for manslaughter cases should usually be below the ten year starting point.")
cf. R v Aburto, 2009 BCCA 446 (CanLII), per Frankel JA, at para 19: ("the ranges referred to in Gillies, are no more than suggestions. They do not impose upper limits on what sentences can be imposed for manslaughter.")
- R v Laberge, 1995 ABCA 196 (CanLII), (1995), 165 AR 375,  AWLD 588 (CA), per Fraser CJ (3:0), at para 6
R v Valente, 2012 ABQB 151 (CanLII), per Ross J, at para 12
LaBerge, supra, at para 9
R v Turosky, 2013 ONSC 583 (CanLII), per van Rensburg J, at paras 26 to 29
- R v Lemay, 1999 CanLII 13451 (QC CA), (1998), 142 CCC (3d) 82 (Que.C.A.), per LeBel JA, at p. 538
R v Clarke, 2003 CanLII 28199 (ON CA), (2003), 172 O.A.C. 133 (C.A.), per curiam (3:0)
R v Cleyndert, (2006), 71 W.C.B. (2d) 146 (Ont. C.A.), 2006 CanLII 33851 (ON CA), per curiam (3:0)
cf. R v Devaney, 2006 CanLII 33666 (ON CA), per Feldman JA (3:0) - found "aggravated" label unhelpful and inappropriate
- Laberge, supra, at p. 382
- see also: Homicide (Sentencing Cases)
Ancillary Sentencing Order
- Offence-specific Orders
|DNA Orders||s. 236 [manslaughter]||
|SOIRA Orders||s. 234||
Note that by function of s. 490.011(2) of the Code, SOIRA orders are not available when sentencing under the Youth Criminal Justice Act
|Weapons Prohibition Orders||s. 230 to 236||
|Delayed Parole Order||s. 236 [manslaughter]||
- General Sentencing Orders
|Non-communication order while offender in custody (s. 743.21)||any||The judge has the discretion to order that the offender be prohibited "from communicating...with any victim, witness or other person" while in custody except where the judge "considers [it] necessary" to communicate with them.|
|Restitution Orders (s. 738)||any||A discretionary Order is available for things such as the replacement value of the property; the pecuniary damages incurred from harm, expenses fleeing a domestic partner; or certain expenses arising from the commission of an offence under s.402.2 or 403.|
|Victim Fine Surcharge (s. 737)||any||A discretionary surcharge under s. 737 of 30% of any fine order imposed, $100 per summary conviction or $200 per indictable conviction. If the offence occurs on or after October 23, 2013, the order has smaller minimum amounts (15%, $50, or $100).|
- General Forfeiture Orders
|Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime (s. 462.37(1) or (2.01))||any||Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence under the Code or the CDSA in which property is "proceeds of crime" and offence was "committed in relation to that property", the property shall be forfeited to Her Majesty the Queen on application of the Crown.|
|Fine in Lieu of Forfeiture (s. 462.37(3))||any||Where a Court is satisfied an order for the forfeiture of proceeds of crime under s. 462.37(1) or (2.01) can be made, but that property cannot be "made subject to an order", then the Court "may" order a fine in "an amount equal to the value of the property". Failure to pay the fine will result in a default judgement imposing a period of incarceration.|
|Forfeiture of Weapons or Firearms (s. 491)||any||Where there is finding of guilt for an offence where a "weapon, an imitation firearm, a prohibited device, any ammunition, any prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance was used in the commission of [the] offence and that thing has been seized and detained", or "that a person has committed an offence that involves, or the subject-matter of which is, a firearm, a cross-bow, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance has been seized and detained, that the item be an enumerated weapon or related item be connected to the offence", then there will be a mandatory forfeiture order. However, under s. 491(2), if the lawful owner "was not a party to the offence" and the judge has "no reasonable grounds to believe that the thing would or might be used in the commission of an offence", then it should be returned to the lawful owner.|
|Forfeiture of Offence-related Property (s. 490.1)||any||Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence, "any property is offence-related property" where (a) by means or in respect of which an indictable offence under this Act or the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act is committed, (b) that is used in any manner in connection with the commission of such an offence, or (c) that is intended to be used for committing such an offence". Such property is to be forfeited to Her Majesty in right of the province.|
Record Suspensions and Pardons
Convictions under s. 234 are eligible for record suspensions pursuant to s. 3 and 4 of the Criminal Records Act after 5 years after the expiration of sentence for summary conviction offences and 10 years after the expiration of sentence for all other offences. The offender may not have the record suspended where the offender was (1) convicted of 3 or more offences with a maximum penalty of life, and (2) for each 3 offences he "was sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more".