The Canadian Criminal Code

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The Evolution of the Canadian The laws of the United States have been revised numerous times, and the Criminal Code of Canada is similar. The Criminal Code is a systematically arranged body of law dealing with crime. The code has been revised multiple times over the past century by the federal government to help accommodate the numerous laws that have been applied to Canadian citizens. The history of homicide in the Criminal Code has evolved from having no degrees of murder in 1892 to having three types of culpable homicide (Leyton).

The Canadian Criminal Code has changed over the years to accommodate the needs of changing times, such as amendments for gun control and the elimination of the death penalty. In 1892, the Criminal Code of Canada was established, copying much of the English 1878 bill. “The Canadian Criminal code which copied the English bill of 1878 has been revised numerous times to accommodate the needs of the Canadian citizens” (Monroe). At that time there was no distinguishing between different types of murder through degrees of severity, because the punishment for every type of murder was the death penalty, and manslaughter was a life sentence in prison (Designs). In 1955, a major reform was carried out and the Canadian Criminal Code was reduced from 1100 sections to only 753. The president of the Law Reform Commission of Canada did this major reform and noted, ‘It is too complicated.

It is too illogical. It is poorly organized. It is not comprehensive and it is too intrusive. We deserve a Criminal Code that is modern, simple, logical, coherent, comprehensive, organized, understandable and restrained’ (“What “). One of the advantages of the reform was the addition of a constitutional principle that no person was to be convicted of an offense unless it had been provided specifically for in a statute. Even though the reform brought many new changes, the Criminal Code was not fully revised because in 1961 there were other changes done to the Code.

In this change, the code included degrees of murder and divided the murders into capital and non-capital murder. The punishment for capital murder was death, while non-capital murder was punishable by life in prison (Leyton). Capital murder was categorized into three types: first murder, that is planned and premeditated not impulsive, and the victim is a law enforcement agent; second, murder of a police officer or prison guard while in the line of duty; and third committing a murder while committing other crimes such as hijacking, sexual offense, or kidnapping (Leyton). In 1961, if person under the age of eighteen committed a crime, he or she was sentenced to life in prison even for capital murder. In 1967, the definition of capital murder was changed to only include the murder of police officer or prison guard. The other two types of murder, which are the first and third types of murder, were then categorized into non-capital murder (Designs).

At the time that the code was being revised in 1960, there was a lot of commotion going on about gun control and Bill C-68 that prohibited the ownership of guns contribute to the commotion. At that time, many people believed that by adopting that bill into the Criminal Code of Canada, all those who owned a gun were criminals since guns were not allowed. Canadian citizens believed that the implementation of Bill C-68 would be a nightmare in expense and a violation of the rights of law-abiding citizens; they also believed it would accomplish absolutely nothing in reducing crime (Dessert). Even though many Canadian citizens believed Bill C-68 had nothing to do with crime control, however, it indeed helped to fluctuate the homicide rate in the 1960’s (Leyton). In 1976, the death penalty was completely abolished and the offenses that were previously punishable by death had a mandatory life sentence. Additionally, homicides were classified into first and second degrees of murder.

This change in the law was done by a free vote in the House of Commons. Despite this change in the law, “in the late 1970’s capital punishment still remained in the Canadian National Defense Act for the most serious military offenses, including treason and mutiny” (Monroe). In the late 1970’s the death penalty was abolished, and the passage of C-51 a law, which considerably tightened restrictions on guns, made the percentage of homicides committed with firearms decline from 37. 8% to 31. 5% (Leyton). In 1998, “the Canadian National Defense Act was changed to remove the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment, with no obligation for parole before 25 years.

This brought Canadian military law in line with civil law in Canada” (Monroe). Finally in 2001, “the Supreme Court of Canada ruled, in United States v. Burns, that in extradition cases it is constitutionally required that (in all but exceptional cases) the Canadian government seek assurances that the death penalty will not be imposed, or if imposed not carried out” (Monroe). There were a lot of changes to the Criminal Code of Canada, but all the changes were done to accommodate the changes that the Canadian citizens went through. Today in the twenty-first century Canadian law recognizes three types of culpable homicide: first and second-degree murder, manslaughter, and infanticide. Murder is the killing of one human being by another with cruelty; infanticide is the killing of a newborn child by its mother.

Manslaughter, which includes the lesser offense of criminal negligence, is any homicide that is neither murder nor infanticide (Leyton). Manslaughter is actually be categorized into voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. First-degree murder now consists of four forms of homicide: murders that are planned and deliberate, murders of police or custodial officers killed in the line of duty, murders committed in the course of specified criminal acts (hijacking, sexual offences or kidnapping), or murders committed by a person who has been convicted of first or second degree murder (Leyton). A. R.

S. 13-1105 defines all of the types of first-degree murder, and further states, “Any kind of first degree murder is class one felony and is punishable by life imprisonment” (“What “). At trials, the jury decides whether the defendant has committed a first-degree murder and then the judge holds a separate sentencing hearing to determine the proper sentence. In A. R. S.

13-703 there is an outline on the various aggravating and explanatory factors that the judge must consider in reaching a decision to impose life imprisonment. An example of a first-degree murder is when a step-grandparent kills a baby. In this case the step-grandparent stated, ” I was trying to stop him from crying.” Mr. Pinkney the step-grandfather killed the baby and was convicted of first-degree murder (Geter). Today first-degree murder is the same as a capital murder was in 1961 only that how it has a more sophisticated name. Second-degree murder constitutes all other murders not mentioned in the first-degree murder.

“A murder of the second degree is committed while defendant was engaged as a principal or an accomplice in the perpetration of a felony” (Designs). More information about second-degree murder is given in section 2502 of the Criminal Code. An example of a second-degree murder is a thief attacking an old man, and the old man dies of a heart attack while the thief was attacking the him. The question for the court is, Who killed the man? In this type of situation the thief would be charged with a second-degree murder (“What “). As mentioned before manslaughter is classified into two categories: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary.

Voluntary manslaughter is defined by code 2503 of the Criminal Code. What this code is saying is that a person who kills an individual without lawful justification is committing voluntary manslaughter. The person is committing involuntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he is acting under a sudden and intense passion (“What”). Involuntary manslaughter is defined by Code 2504 of the Criminal Code. The Code tells us that a person is guilty of involuntary manslaughter when as a direct result of committing an unlawful act and he or she causes the death of another person.

In simple terms someone is committing involuntary manslaughter if he or she did not mean to cause the death of another person. In terms of grading involuntary manslaughter, this category falls into is a misdemeanor of the first degree (Bra love). An example of involuntary manslaughter is if a victim under twelve years of age and is in the care, custody or control of the person who caused the death involuntary manslaughter is a felony of the second degree (Dessert) In the early 1980’s, homicides were only categorized as either capital or non-capital murders. Before the ’80’s, capital crimes were much different that they are now; for example robbery and the selling of alcohol to underage customers was not a serious non- capital.

But after the 1980’s this type of conduct was consider a non-capital crime. Today in the twenty-first century if a person is caught selling to a minor he would be charge a fine and his store could possibly be closed (Garibay) Many things have changed in the Canadian Criminal Code over the centuries. Today in the twenty-first century, homicides are categorized as murder of the first and second degree, manslaughter either voluntary or involuntary, and infanticide. As we can see the criminal law has changed a lot from having no degrees of murder, to having three types of murder, and the way capital punishment is applied has also changed a lot.

An important factor that contributes to the decrease of murders was the gun control policy that took effect in the late 1960’s and in the early 1970’s. Not only the degrees of murder have changed over the centuries, but also the method of the capital punishment. As well as other countries, Canada uses the lethal injection and the electric chair as methods of punishment, although the lethal injection is by far the most common. Indeed the laws for Canadian citizens have changed numerous times over the years to help them accommodate the changes in their nation. Works CitedBralove, Alisa. ” Mass murder to get new sentence.” Dolan Media Newswire.

09 September 2003: Page 1. Designs, Alissa. “The History of Homicide in the Criminal Code.” Victims Of Violence. Online 13 October 2003.
com>Dessert, James. “Criminal Timeline of Canada.” Canada’s Criminal Code: A History. Online. Internet. 11 October 2003. Garibay, Maria D.

Personal Interview. 16 October 2003. Geter, Peter. ” Murder of Crying baby was premeditated.” Daily Record.

23 June 2003: Page 1. Leyton, Elliott. ” Homicide.” Canadian Encyclopedia. 1998 Ed. Monroe, Susan. “Criminal Law.” Criminal Timeline of Canada.

Online. Internet 09 November 2003.” What is first-degree murder?” World Wide Information Association. Online. Internet. 09 November 2003.

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