I am referring to rare instances of 'mercy killing.' For example, a family member in the hospital, stricken with a terminal illness, asking a loved one to administer a lethal dose of morphine, or an injured soldier requesting a colleague to end their life before the enemy captures them. And, of course, the occasional unusual sexual fetish taken to an extreme.

Is there a legal defense in these scenarios? Can one claim "I'm not guilty of murder because they 'consented' to having their life ended?'" - or would it always be murder, or at the very least, manslaughter?

  • 1
    There question is rather broad because there's three very different cases. The first case of somebody with an illness is called assisted suicide or euthanasia, and it's highly jurisdiction-dependent and highly regulated, for example, requiring approval by multiple physicians. The second case involves very different laws and the Geneva Conventions.
    – user71659
    Oct 29 at 3:48
  • @user71659 assisted suicide is killing oneself with assistance, not consenting to being killed by someone else.
    – phoog
    Oct 29 at 11:31
  • 1
    @phoog Sounds like shuffling words around that fundamentally mean the same thing on grounds of some arbitrary "philosophical" difference
    – AlanSTACK
    Oct 29 at 18:48

1 Answer 1


Outside of the very specialized legislated regime for medical assistance in dying, a person cannot consent to being killed, and any such purported consent does not relieve the other party from criminal responsibility.

See s. 14 of the Criminal Code:

No person is entitled to consent to have death inflicted on them, and such consent does not affect the criminal responsibility of any person who inflicts death on the person who gave consent.

  • What’s the effect of the first part of that clause? Criminal law wouldn’t normally talk about people’s “entitlements”.
    – Sneftel
    Oct 29 at 8:49
  • @Sneftel yet it does talk about it here. The effect is quite clear: it justifies the second part of the sentence.
    – phoog
    Oct 29 at 11:35
  • @phoog why would it need justification?
    – Sneftel
    Oct 29 at 13:05

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