Many misconceptions surround Self-Defence in Canada, and Parliament tried to clarify the law in 2013 by amending the Canadian Criminal Code. This series of blogs will address five common misconceptions that we see at Schnell Hardy Jones LLP. This series is intended to provide information about Canadian Law. If you believe you were acting in Self-Defence, please contact us for legal advice.
Two defences that are codified in the Canadian Criminal Code are: s.34 Defence of Person, more commonly referred to as Self-Defence, and s.35 Defence of Property. Both of which can be found online here, http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/page-6.html
The first blog will explain, Assault, a common offence connected with Self-Defence before explaining the elements of Self-Defence.
What is assault?
Misconception #1 – Assault requires contact
In Canada, it is illegal to intentionally apply force or threaten to use force against someone without his or her consent, except in limited circumstances like Self-Defence.
Assault is codified under Section 265 of the Criminal Code found online here http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/c-46/section-265.html.
You are assaulted when someone intentionally uses force, directly or indirectly, against you without your consent.
Section 265 also states that you are assaulted if you reasonably believe that someone will use force against you. It is assault if someone is carrying a weapon blocks your path or attacks you.
Therefore you do not have to be physically contacted before you can claim Self-Defence. This means you do not have to wait for someone to throw the first punch if you reasonably believe they will hurt you. You can take steps to reasonably protect yourself before you are physically hurt.
The next blog will unpack reasonable belief.