Oh, no! It's Dave again!
As many of you know, I've been devising a training plan for Aikido as street defence. One of the things I've always believed is that if one intends to use a Martial Art for street defence, one should have a good working knowledge of the laws relating to self defence. So, I sat down with a policeman; Steve - a good buddy I've known since high-school. We went through the Criminal Code of Canada and discussed the important points; I included the results in the training plan.
I'd also like to discuss them here; due to the international nature of the forum; (friends from ALL OVER!) a comparison of our respective countries laws would make for a fascinating study.
So, on behalf of Canada, here's our appropriate laws:
Sec. 27, 34-37, Criminal Code of Canada
USE OF FORCE TO PREVENT COMMISSION OF OFFENCE.
27. Every one is justified in using as much force as is reasonably necessary
(a) to prevent the commission of an offence
(i) for which, if it were committed, the person who committed it might be arrested without warrant, and
(ii) that would be likely to cause immediate and serious injury to the person or property of any one; or
(b) to prevent anything being done that, on reasonable grounds, he believes would, if it were done, be an offence mentioned in paragraph (a). [R.S., c.C-34, s.28.]
SELF-DEFENCE AGAINST UNPROVOKED ASSAULT
... / Extent of justification.
34. (1) Every who is unlawfully assaulted without having provoked the assault is justified in repelling force by force if the force he uses is not intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm and is no more than is necessary to enable him to defend himself.
(2) Every one who is unlawfully assaulted and who causes death or grievous bodily harm in repelling the assault is justified if
(a) he causes it under reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm from the violence with which the assault was originally made or with which the assailant pursues his purposes; and
(b) he believes, on reasonable grounds, that he cannot otherwise preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm. [R.S. c.C-34, s.34.]
SELF-DEFENCE IN CASE OF AGGRESSION.
35. Every one who has without justification assaulted another but did not commence the assault with intent to cause death or grievous bodily harm, or has without justification provoked an assault on himself by another, may justify the use of force subsequent to the assault if
(a) he uses the force
(i) under reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm from the violence of the person whom he has assaulted or provoked, and
(ii) in the belief, on reasonable grounds, that it is necessary in order to preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm;
(b) he did not, at any time before the necessity of preserving himself from death or grievous bodily harm arose, endeavour to cause death or grievous bodily harm; and
(c) he declined further conflict and quitted or retreated from it as far as it was feasible to do so before the necessity of preserving himself from death or grievous bodily harm arose. [R.S. c.C-34, s.35.]
36. Provocation includes, for the purposes of sections 34 and 35 , provocation by blows, words or gestures. [R.S. c.C-34, s.36.]
... / Extent of justification.
37. (1) Every one is justified in using force to defend himself or any one under his protection from assault, if he uses no more force than is necessary to prevent the assault or the repetition of it.
(2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to justify the wilful infliction of any hurt or mischief that is excessive, having regard to the nature of the assault that the force used was intended to prevent. [R.S. c.C-34, s.37.]
The laws themselves are very clearly laid out and leave no room for interpretation. However, we MUST be cautious here. There is a catch here; actually 2:
1) As the person using force for defence or to prevent the commission of an offence, one must be prepared to prove justification
for one's actions. We have to be able to prove that, under the circumstances, a)the use of force was justified and b) no reasonable option was available at the time.
2)The second catch is harder; it doesn't have a point of law, but it's there: As Martial Artists, we have to prove beyond doubt
that we have used the minimum force possible.
The reason this is a catch is that you don't have to convince the cops, who know something about the street, you may have to convince a judge and jury, who don't. Remember, to many ordinary folk, Martial Artists are potentially violent people whose hands and feet are 'lethal weapons' who like the idea of committing unarmed mayhem.
So that's the law as it exists in Canada. I'd love to see the various laws of your countries for comparisons.