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First Degree Murder Defences in Calgary

Few cases are as serious as a first-degree murder charge when it comes to criminal defence. If you have been accused of this serious crime, it is important to work with a qualified criminal lawyer who can help you build the strongest possible case.

That being said, a first-degree murder charge can be fought with several defences. You could look at a complete defence, something that could mitigate your sentence or reduce your charges to second-degree murder or manslaughter. In this article, we’ve compiled some possible defences for a first-degree murder charge, including:

Mistaken Identity or Wrongful Arrest

If you were not the one who committed murder, you have a complete defence. Defendants of first-degree murder charges and homicide crimes often employ mistaken identity or wrongful arrest as a defence. 

Typically,  a witness or another party involved in the crime could have identified you as the perpetrator in these cases. As such, you should have strong evidence and a solid alibi that can support your claim of not being present at the crime scene at the time of the killing. Other mistaken identity arguments include challenging evidence, witness identification, and forensic evidence.

Insanity – Not Criminally Responsible by Mental Disorder

If you are truly mentally unstable and unable to understand the nature of your actions, then you may be eligible to plead for an insanity defence. This means that you can prove you were unaware of the severity of your criminal conduct at the time due to mental illness or other impairing conditions.

Failure to Prove the Elements of First-Degree Murder

For the prosecution to convict you of first-degree murder, they must be able to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If they are unable to do so, your charges may be reduced or dismissed altogether.

The elements of first-degree murder include:

  • Killing another person
  • Purposely committing the crime
  • Committing the crime recklessly in extreme indifference to human life

If you can raise doubt about any of these elements, you may have a successful defence against a first-degree murder charge.

Justification or Excuse

In some cases, you may be able to claim justification or excuse for your actions. This is typically only applicable in unique situations, such as if you were acting under duress or necessity. An experienced criminal lawyer will be able to advise you on whether this defence could be applicable in your case. Common justifications are:

  • Self-defence: You were acting to defend yourself against an attack.
  • Defence of others: You were defending another person, such as a family member or friend, against an attacker.
  • Necessity: You committed the crime to prevent a greater harm from happening, such as if you were stopping a robbery or kidnapping.
  • Exercise of duty: You committed the crime to fulfil your duty as a public servant, such as a police officer,  military member, or emergency responder.
  • Battered woman syndrome:  You were suffering from battered woman syndrome at the time of the killing,  which can impair your judgement and lead you to believe that murder is the only way to protect yourself or your loved ones.

Determining the Best Defence Strategy for You

The best way to determine which defence strategy is right for your case is to consult with an experienced criminal defence lawyer in Calgary. At Ross Lutz Barristers, our team of experienced and knowledgeable criminal lawyers can help you navigate the justice system and build the strongest possible defence. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.