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The Defence Of Self Defence In Ontario

Fail To Comply, Breach & Related Criminal Offences

In Canada the defence known as “self-defence” is available to those charged with a criminal charge such as assault, assault bodily harm and other forms of assaults and related offences under the Criminal Code of Canada. Use of force can be permitted in certain circumstances. You can also use self-defence to defend your property. The Law has evolved over the years to become what it is today. The laws of self-defence are codified in the Criminal Code of Canada under sections 34 through 37.

However, it is important to keep in mind that there are exceptions and the defence of self-defence will be applied in a precision-like manner to the circumstances of any given particular case. A Judge has to consider 1) whether the accused believed on reasonable grounds that force was being used against him or another person or the threat of force, 2) that the act in question was committed to defending themselves and lastly, 3) that the act committed was reasonable in the circumstances.

There are guiding criteria in the criminal code to determine what is considered reasonable in the circumstances, and these will be subject to interpretation. These criteria look carefully at the context and the situation that unfolded that lead to the use of the force. For example, did the accused person feel threatened ever by the victim? Or on the accused’s side, did he have other means available to him to respond to the threat, such as running away or doing something differently? The Judge also will consider the size, age, gender and physical capabilities of both parties.

For example, was the accused small and the victim very large and vice versa. To make matters complicated, there are endless cases on self defence. If you have a situation, chances are there is a case just like it. The cases on self defence are an interesting read. One nice logical take away from the leading cases is the legal principal that in self defence cases, an accused should not be judged based on the injuries the victim suffered, but rather based on the actions taken by the Accused leading up to the use of force.

Another example, if we are talking about a true case of self-defence and the accused pushed the victim back hard enough that he landed on his head and suffered serious injuries, the Accused should not then be found guilty just because the victim may have suffered a concussion and serious injuries. The Case Law is clear that in deciding cases of self-defence, Judges should not look at the injuries of victims, but rather the act itself to determine if that act was reasonable.

If you are charged with a criminal offence call Avi Baratz, Criminal Defence Lawyer in Toronto today for your free consultation at 416-937-3777 or email at We can talk about whether self-defence will apply in your circumstances.


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