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
Can I still be charged if it was Self-Defence or Defence of Property?
Misconception #5 – If it’s Self-Defence, I cannot be charged with assault
Repeated several times in this blog, if you apply force to someone without their consent you are committing assault except in limited circumstances. The law permits the use force to protect someone or their property, but that is not for the police to decide.
The Crown Prosecutor, and the court decide whether you were justified in using force.
The Crown Prosecutor should pursue cases that are in the public interest with reasonable prospects of conviction. If the police charge you with assault, and you claim Self-Defence then it will be up to the Crown Prosecutor to decide if it is in the public interest prosecute you, and if there is a reasonable chance of convicting you.
If the Crown Prosecutor believes it is not in the public interest, he or she may stay the charges. If the Crown decides to prosecute you then he or she will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not Self-Defence. Regardless, if you are charged with assault you should seek legal advice from one of our Criminal Defence lawyers at Schnell Hardy Jones.