Canadian Law – Misconception of Self-Defence Pt. 2 | Schnell Hardy Jones LLP

Believe you were acting in Self-Defence contact Schnell Hardy Jones LLP in Red Deer for legal advice

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,

What is reasonable belief of harm?

Misconception #2 – Canadians do not have the right to protect themselves

As discussed in a previous blog, s.265 of the Criminal Code (CCC) makes it illegal to apply force directly or indirectly, or to threaten to use force against another person except in limited circumstances like Self-Defence.

What the court will conclude is a reasonable belief is a nuanced part of the law that is often oversimplified.

Section 34 of the Criminal Code outlines some factors the court will weigh when deciding whether a belief that a threat of harm was reasonable found online here

  1. the nature of the threat;
  2. how immediate the threat was;
  3. your role in the incident;
  4. if weapons were used;
  5. the size, age, gender and physical capabilities of all the parties;
  6. the relationship between all the parties;
  7. the history or communication between the parties;
  8. the proportionality of your response;
  9. whether you knew the other person was acting lawfully.

When deciding if the defence of Self-Defence is reasonable, the court weighs each factor. This means that no one factor is sufficient to satisfy the claim of Self-Defence. Courts also frown upon someone who is the cause of their own misfortune claiming Self-Defence after instigating the confrontation, and the claim is unavailable if you assault someone like a police officer.

What is reasonable force will be discussed in the next blog.