Even though it is illegal to apply force on another person, according to Canadian Law, it is justified to use force against another person in certain circumstances. One such instance is when an individual uses force to defend himself/herself.
Nevertheless, there are very specific rules about when, how much and in what circumstances using force is justified. Applying for self-defence can raise complicated legal issues, which is why the Government Of Canada has set certain rules.
If you are wondering whether self-defence applies to your case or not, it is best to consult a renowned criminal defence lawyer.
There are only a few conditions in which self-defence applies. If you have been accused of assault, simply claiming that you did what you did because the other person was threatening you is not enough.
According to Section 34 of the Criminal Code, it is not up to the accused to prove that it was self-defence, instead, it is the responsibility of the crown to prove that the individual was acting in self-defence.
Some of the conditions of self-defence include:
- The accused reasonably believes that he/she was being threatened.
- The accused was defending himself/herself.
- The accused was acting reasonably according to the situation.
In this blog, we have discussed the three aforementioned points in detail to help you understand whether self-defence can apply to your case or not.
Reasonable Belief Of Threat
The first condition of self-defence is that the individual reasonably believes that he/she was being threatened, harmed or attacked. It is not a question of whether force was actually being used.
It is a matter of whether the accused actually believed in the threat. Even if someone is mistaken, genuinely believing that there is a threat to their wellbeing in a certain condition establishes this element.
It is more about the accused’s state of mind rather than about what was actually happening. Feeling threatened, even due to a feather-like touch is enough to establish the first condition of self-defence.
However, know that the belief will be compared to what a reasonable person would have believed or thought in the same situation.
Force Used To Protect One Self
One of the main questions asked during the process of proving self-defence is whether the actions of the accused were to defend himself/herself or not?
To claim and prove self-defence, it is imperative that the accused used force to protect himself/herself from threat or danger. Similar to the first element of proving self-defence, this also considers the accused’s state of mind.
If the court believes that the accused’s actions were motivated by revenge or spite, the application for self-defence will be denied.
Use Of Force Is Reasonable In The Circumstances
In the last part, the crown will analyze whether the accused’s conduct was reasonable and justified in the given situation. As mentioned, the response will be compared to the response of that of a reasonable person in a similar situation.
However, here the question is not whether the accused thought his/her reaction was reasonable. The main question is whether the act performed by the accused was a reasonable response to the situation.
The judge or the person of justice will consider the following factors before deciding whether the act was reasonable in a given circumstance or not.
- Nature of threat or force
- The extent of threat or force
- Accused’s role in the incident
- Was there a weapon used
- Size, age, gender and capabilities of the parties involved
- History of interaction
The factors that are considered are not limited to these. If the judge or jury believes there are other factors that need to be considered, there are no restrictions.
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