Ch. 10 Readings
Murder & Manslaughter
A person convicted of first-degree murder is not eligible for parole until 25 years of the
sentence have been served in confinement, subject to the possibility of a review after 15
For 2 degree murder, the parole ineligibility period can be anywhere between 10 and 25
years as determined by the trial judge
The sentence for first-degree murder would be life imprisonment with no parole for 25
years but the prisoner could, after serving 15 years, apply to a panel of 3 superior court
judges to have the period of parole ineligibility reduced.
Second degree Murder and Parole Ineligibility
Section 745.4 indicates that the considerations which the trial judge must take into
account are the “character of the offender, he nature of the offence and the circumstances
surrounding its commission,” and the jury’s recommendation, if any
As a general rule, the period of parole ineligibility shall be for 10 years, but this can be
ousted by a determination of the trial judge that, according to the criteria enumerated in
s.744 (now s.745.5) the offender should wait a longer period before having his suitability
to be released into general public assessed. To this end, an extension of the period of
parole ineligibility would not be “unusual”, although it may well be that, in the median
number of cases, a period of ten years might be still awarded.
Viewing the absence of an explanation as an aggravating factor is troubling since it puts a
burden on the accused which contradicts the central principle articulated by the supreme
Crown is responsible for proving aggravation
In the case of second degree murder, the issue is whether a killing represents a degree of
moral culpability which, by reason of motive, is less than the normative quality ordinarily
associated with murder.
If satisfied that a killing was generated by compassion, surely the penalty should, by way
of constitutional exemption, be commensurate with that conclusion. Then the sentence
can be determined by blameworthiness as indicated by the facts of the case.
The threshold needs to be high, and the use of the exemption will be rare, but it is an
essential tool to ensure both respect for the criminal law and a guarantee of equity in its