What are the Sentences for Attempted Murder in Canada?

What are the Sentences for Attempted Murder in Canada

Attempted murder is a serious crime in Canada. You can lose all your life reputation after getting accused of such a crime. But do you know what the sentences for attempted murder in Canada are? No problem! We will guide you on the legalities surrounding attempted murder charges, including the potential sentences and influencing factors. So, without any more obstacles, let’s get started!

What is Attempted Murder?

Attempted murder [defined by the Criminal Code of Canada, Section 239 (1)] occurs when someone takes deliberate actions intending to kill another person, even if the attempt is unsuccessful. Whether the victim survives or not, the key element is the proven intent to commit murder.

Example of an Attempted Murder

Attempted murder does not require intending to kill a specific person. For example, firing a loaded gun into a crowd, even without aiming at someone. In some situations, pointing a firearm with clear intent to kill could also qualify as attempted murder.

For a conviction, the prosecution (Crown) must prove two key elements:

  • Specific Intent to Kill
  • Overt Acts Beyond Preparation

The Criminal Code of Canada on Attempted Murder

Canada’s Criminal Code considers attempted murder a serious crime with a life sentence maximum. It focuses on the intent to kill, not the outcome, and applies even if the victim is not harmed. The severity of the sentence can be influenced by factors like firearms and organized crime involvement.

Instances That Will be Counted as an Attempted Murder

According to lawyers and criminal experts, certain scenarios can be considered attempted murder. These include:

  • Shooting at someone with the intention to kill
  • Poisoning someone with the intention to kill
  • Stabbing someone with the intention to kill

What are the Sentences for Attempted Murder in Canada?

Attempted murder in Canada carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. But the actual sentence depends on factors like using a firearm or involvement with organized crime. Self-defence could be valid if the accused reasonably believed force were necessary to stop immediate harm.

Factors That will Impact the Attempted Murder Charge in Canada

All these factors highlight how the seriousness of the attempted murder is judged in Canada. Here is a breakdown of the factors:

Using a Firearm

Simply using a gun during the attempt, even a legal one, shows a greater intent to harm and disregard for life. This action generally leads to a harsher sentence.

Using Prohibited or Restricted Firearms

The law takes these weapons especially seriously. If you use an illegal (prohibited) or one requiring a special licence (restricted) firearm in the attempt, the minimum sentence you face automatically jumps significantly higher.

Association with Organized Crime

This action adds another layer of danger. Attempted murder connected to organized crime suggests a planned, potentially more brutal act and carries a much heavier potential sentence.

What Exactly is a Firearm?

Canadian law tightly controls firearms based on their perceived risk. We have made a breakdown of the two categories of firearms.

What is a Prohibited Firearm?

Prohibited firearms are considered the most dangerous weapons and are illegal to possess in Canada for civilians. They are seen as having no legitimate civilian use. 

  • Automatic Weapons: Highly lethal and fire multiple rounds with a single trigger pull.
  • Certain Short-barreled Handguns: Easily concealable and pose a greater risk in close quarters.
  • Other Specifically Listed Firearms: Listed on this page of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website.

What is a Restricted Firearm?

Restricted firearms are seen as potentially dangerous but may have some legitimate uses, such as hunting or target shooting. Owning or using them requires a special license, known as a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL).  Examples include:

  • Rifles: A wide range of rifles, but some with specific features may be prohibited.
  • Shotguns: Similar to rifles, some shotguns with particular characteristics. Require a restricted license.
  • Handguns (with some exceptions): Requires a specific classification on your PAL.

Legal Considerations for an Attempted Murder Ruling

Self-defence is a key legal consideration. The judge can drop or lessen the charge if the accused can prove that they needed force to protect themselves. This hinges on the actions being seen as proportional to the threat.

Considerations Relating Self-Defence

Self-defence can impact attempted murder charges. The action taken needs to be proportional to the threat.  This means they couldn’t use excessive force in response to a minor threat. If proven, the charge could be dropped entirely or reduced.

Legal Defence and Considerations for Attempted Murder

Intent to Kill

The Crown must prove a specific and deliberate intent to kill. Simply causing bodily harm, even if life-threatening, isn’t enough for a conviction.

Provocation (Limited Defence)

Provocation doesn’t directly apply to attempted murder charges. If extreme provocation caused the accused to lose the mental state necessary for specific intent to kill, it might be considered during the defence.


This is a valid defence under Section 34 of the Criminal Code. It applies if:

  • The accused reasonably believed they or another person faced imminent force or threat of force.
  • They acted to defend themselves or the other person from that threat.
  • The force used was reasonable in the circumstances.

Final Verdict

Attempted murder is basically a severe offence with potential life imprisonment sentences. But when you hire the right lawyer from a reputable law agency, you can influence the charges and sentences. Judges always listen to the people who do not keep the law in their hands intentionally for their well-being.


What is the maximum sentence for attempted murder in Canada?

In Canada, attempted murder carries the maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The actual sentence depends on the circumstances. Factors like using a firearm or involvement with an organized crime can greatly impact the final punishment by increasing it.

What about the sentence for organized crime involvement?

Organized crime involvement in an attempted murder case significantly enlarges the minimum sentence in Canada. Even a first-time offence involving organized crime could lead to a minimum sentence much higher than attempted murder alone.

Can self-defence be a defence against attempted murder?

Self-defence can be a valid prevention against attempted murder charges in Canada. The key is whether the accused believed that the deadly force was necessary to stop immediate harm. If proven, the self-defence argument could see the charge dropped entirely or reduced to a lesser offence.