I want to talk to you today about self-defence under Canadian law as specifically that are self-defence principles that are applicable in the criminal code or set out in Section 34. And the Criminal Code. There’s a whole laundry list of factors which the judge is supposed to apply in that particular list. Now I’m going to give you a couple simple examples. So, you understand it’s pretty clear cut I mean, it’s kind of common sense actually, you’re self defence you’re acting reasonably to defend yourself in particular circumstances is the bottom line and not using too much force and acting proportionally to the force which is, which is happening upon you. So let me give you a couple pretty clear-cut examples. So, you’re standing in a bar, you’re a male, I don’t know your 180 pounds. And there’s a maybe a 210-pound, bigger guy, a little taller 6’1, you’re 5’10.

And this person is aggressive. They’re drinking, they’re kind of getting your face really, you’re getting a little nervous, you’re shrinking away a bit. And for some unknown reason, out of the blue, they grab you and punch you and they punch you in the jaw and it’s devastating. They got you now and your stunned. Well, clearly, you’re allowed to use proportional force to defend you. You shouldn’t pull out a knife perhaps in those circumstances, at least not yet because it’s not that fights not at that level at all. Which can probably never pull out a knife by the way.

But there are situations where you can defend yourself with a knife, by the way, we won’t get into those be making those in another video but not in this context. You’ve been attacked with a fist it’s appropriate to defend yourself with a fist for example. So, in grabbing and punching this person back a couple of times and wrestling through the floor and holding them there because you happen to be even a trained fighter. Let’s say you’re a trained fighter, but you still got to defend yourself. Otherwise, you’re going to get hurt? Now the fight gets broken up. Clearly, you’ve acted in self defence, there’s no question this person was the aggressor. They’re also male. Some of the factors that look at are gender, the role that they’re playing that person was the aggressor, the size differential the parties. He was bigger. The proportionality of your response. You used a fist. You didn’t use too much force. Oh, by the way, you don’t have to wait to a nicety your blow. I’m going to punch him this hard. So, they just get off me. No, you can punch. You don’t have to wait too nicely and if it caused a devastating injury, that’s still going to be self defence. Even it resulted in death and sometimes a punch can it can still be self defence. That’d be a terrible outcome by the way, but clearly in the scenario I’ve given you, you back into self defence in the fight thank God no one got seriously hurt the fight got broke up.

Let’s talk another scenario. Exact same factual situation at the bar. Person attacks you punches you once or twice say. You grab them punch back and now you have them on the ground and they’re totally under control. They’re kind of dazed on the ground. You have an opportunity to get away quite easily and they’re not even holding on to you now. And you vicariously give them either one more punch. Let’s say it’s three. Well, at that point, you’ve extended beyond the bounds of self-defence there was no necessity to do that. There was no imminent threat, you’re able to get away the fights being broken up at that point, you gave vicarious three punches. That is assault, there’s no question that the self defence has ended. So, a judge at one of these trials, they have to apply the laundry list of factors in 34.2, there’s a lot of common sense it’s applied to these situations too. And you know, we know it when we see essentially, fortunately, the law of self defence, it used to be extremely complicated. There are still complications. But 34.2 was very much simplified to give this laundry list of factors. We still have case law would apply. But I tell you the old case law even the most experienced criminal lawyer every time he did a self defence trial, you’d have to bring out your case brief, read all the cases, synthesize them, and maybe completely understand it for that one day. So, I don’t know how juries did because I used to study for hours and hours and hours just to get ready for one trial. But thankfully, it’s been simplified to a certain extent. But that’s the law of self defence in a simplified way, giving a couple common sense examples and really, let’s face it, this area of law does ultimately boil down to common sense.

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By Published On: August 4, 2023Last Updated: June 19, 2024Categories: General, Video

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