The Canadian Criminal Code

Topics: Murder, Death Penalty, Life imprisonment Pages: 5 (1838 words) Published: May 18, 2005
The Evolution of the Canadian Criminal Code
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...

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