Is Self-Defence a Crime?

If you meet the requirements of self-defence, then it is not necessarily a crime. However, the criteria for self-defence can be a complicated area of the law to navigate, leaving many people to wonder if, having defended themselves physically or with a weapon, they will be charged with a crime.

There are laws in place to protect individuals who do defend themselves from harm the only way they can in a dangerous scenario. But there are also criteria that must be proven to prevent others from taking advantage of self-defence to avoid further penalties.

As outlined on the department of justice website, it states, “A person is not guilty of an offence if they believe on reasonable grounds that force is being used against them or another person or that a threat of force is being made against them or another person.”

The criteria that must be met is determining what a person “believed” at the time they utilized force in a situation and comparing that with what a “reasonable person” would have done in the same scenario. A “reasonable person” is a term that is used to determine whether the average person would have done the same thing.

There is a more thorough analysis available on the website. However, a key takeaway is on the importance on what a person believed. For example, even if there was another way to have resolved the situation, a person may still be able to use the defence of self-defence if it can be proven they believed there was no other way. Meaning, even if a person mistakenly utilized force or chose to use a weapon in a particular way, was it unreasonable for him or her to have arrived at that conclusion?

The answers to these questions are best discussed with a lawyer. This can be a grey, and therefore complex, area of the law. If you were involved in a situation where you wish to use self-defence as a legal strategy, it’s best to consult with an experienced criminal defence lawyer. He or she can help you determine if your situation meets the criteria for the defence, and what other legal options you have at your disposal.