If you are charged with assault in Canada and plan to plead not guilty, one of the defenses you and your Saskatoon criminal lawyer might use is self-defense. Today, we’ll tell you more about this defense and answer common questions about using it.
What Is Self-Defense?
Self-defense is when someone uses force to protect themselves from an attacker. It can be used as a criminal defense in assault cases, and the amount of force you can use will depend on the circumstances. For instance, if someone is coming at you with a knife, you can’t shoot them in self-defense – the force you use must be reasonable in the situation.
When Can You Use Self Defense?
You can only use self-defense if:
- You reasonably believe that you’re about to be harmed; and
- The force you use is reasonable under the circumstances.
If both of these things are true, then you can use self-defense as a criminal defense in Canada.
What Is a Reasonable Belief?
A reasonable belief means that a person believes, based on the circumstances, that they are about to be harmed. It doesn’t matter if they’re actually in danger – what matters is whether or not a reasonable person would believe they were in danger, based on the information they had at the time.
What Is Reasonable Force?
Reasonable force is the amount of force a reasonable person would use in the same circumstances. It can’t be more force than is necessary to protect yourself from harm – so, if someone is coming at you with their fists, you can’t shoot them in self-defense. The force must also be proportional to the threat – so, if someone is coming at you with a knife, you can’t use a bat to defend yourself.
In Canada, there are three main factors that courts will look at to decide if the force used was reasonable:
- The nature and quality of the assault
- The extent to which the force used increased the risk of harm
- Whether there were any other ways to defend yourself.
If you are facing assault charges, contact a Saskatoon criminal lawyer to determine the best defence for your case and prepare a plan for moving forward.