Self-Defence & Defence of Others
Self Defence” or “Defence of Others” as Legal Defence
You are not guilty of an offence if the act you committed was done for the purpose of protecting yourself or another person and the act was reasonable in the circumstances.
You were justified in applying force to another person if:
- You reasonably believed that either force or the threat of force was being used against you or another person;
- The act you committed was done for the purpose of defending or protecting yourself or the other person;
- The act you committed was reasonable in the circumstances.
In every case, if there is an air of reality to you having committed the act either in self-defence or the defence of another person, the judge or jury has to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that you were not acting in self-defence or defence of another in order to find you guilty.
The court is required to consider that in the heat of the moment, it is often not possible to measure the necessary and appropriate amount of force to use to defend oneself or another. It is therefore recognized that a person in a threatening situation need not “weigh to a nicety” precisely how much force is necessary.
Charged with a Criminal Offence? Get Every Defence.
Do not plead guilty without discussing your case with a lawyer. Many criminal offences have mandatory minimum sentences and a conviction will often result in a lengthy jail sentence. Being found guilty may result in negative employment, immigration and personal consequences to you and your family for years to come.
R v PAUL
Every Accused charged with an offence may present evidence that the offence was committed in self-defence and/or the defence of others. Persons who themselves are the target of violence or the threat of violence may use reasonable force to defend themselves. Likewise, a person may use reasonable force in the defence of another party. In this case, a fight ensued wherein the complainant was armed with a machete and a knife while the Accused wielded a hammer. At some point the Accused struck the complainant’s hand with the machete. A new trial was ordered on appeal after the trial judge failed to instruct the jury to consider self-defence and/or in the defence of a third-party. The test for if a defence should be left with the jury, ie. whether there is an “air of reality” to the proposed defence, is three-fold. Is there evidence on which a jury could reasonably find that each of the three criteria of self-defence and/or defence of others were not disproven beyond a reasonable doubt: (a) could a jury reasonably conclude that the Accused believed on reasonable grounds that force or threat of force was being used against them or someone else; (b) could a jury reasonably conclude that the subjective purpose of the defensive act was for the Accused to protect themselves or others; and (c) the reasonableness of the force used. https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onca/doc/2020/2020onca259/2020onca259.html
R. v G.B. – Reasonable doubt re: self-defence
Our client was charged with several domestic related assaults that his girlfriend alleged had occurred over the course of a couple of months. At trial, our client testified that any physical altercations with his girlfriend were the result of his girlfriend having been the aggressor and that any force he used was done for the purpose of defending himself. We also called witnesses who testified about they dynamic of the relationship and that, on several occasions, they had observed the complainant behave in an aggressive manner towards our client. As a result of our effective cross-examination of the complainant, the judge has significant concerns about the complainant’s credibility. The trial judge concluded that based on all of the evidence, he was uncertain of who to believe and that he had a reasonable doubt that our client may have acted in self-defence. Our client was found not guilty of all the charges.
R. v. D.T. – Reasonable doubt re: self-defence
Our client was charged with assault bodily harm after it was alleged that while at a party, our client hit a man in the face with a glass that resulted in serious injuries. At trial, our client testified that his friend had invited him to a party and that while he was socializing, one of the partygoers accused our client of flirting with his girlfriend. This man, along with his friends, surrounded our client in a threatening manner. Our client, who was holding a glass of beer at the time, believed one of the men was about to punch him and that he reacted by striking the man in the face with the glass he was holding. The Court did not reject our client’s evidence and found that it had at least a reasonable doubt that our client had acted in self-defence.