Legal Knowledge


Martial arts is at its core a method of learning to effectively use force against another human being. Without an understanding of the legal hows and whys of using force that training, or even using force with no training, can be as dangerous as any punch or kick.

The information contained in this section is the foundation of legal use of force in Canada. The information here is organized by Criminal code section. A layman's guide to these will be forthcoming along with the Trespass to Property Act which is specific to Ontario.

It is important to keep in mind that just because you can legally do something does not mean you should. This is very important when deciding whether to use force or not.

Section 494 - Powers of Arrest

  • (1) Any one may arrest without warrant
    • (a) a person whom he finds committing an indictable offence; or
    • (b) a person who, on reasonable grounds, he believes
      • (i) has committed a criminal offence, and
      • (ii) is escaping from and freshly pursued by persons who have lawful authority to arrest that person.
·         Arrest by owner, etc., of property

(2) The owner or a person in lawful possession of property, or a person authorized by the owner or by a person in lawful possession of property, may arrest a person without a warrant if they find them committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property and

  • (a) they make the arrest at that time; or
  • (b) they make the arrest within a reasonable time after the offence is committed and they believe on reasonable grounds that it is not feasible in the circumstances for a peace officer to make the arrest.
·         Delivery to peace officer

(3) Anyone other than a peace officer who arrests a person without warrant shall forthwith deliver the person to a peace officer.

·         For greater certainty

(4) For greater certainty, a person who is authorized to make an arrest under this section is a person who is authorized by law to do so for the purposes of section

Section 25 - Protection of Persons Administering and Enforcing the Law

25. (1) Every one who is required or authorized by law to do anything in the administration or enforcement of the law

  •    (a) as a private person,
  •    (b) as a peace officer or public officer,
  •    (c) in aid of a peace officer or public officer, or
  •    (d) by virtue of his office,

is, if he acts on reasonable grounds, justified in doing what he is required or authorized to do and in using as much force as is necessary for that purpose.

Section 26 - Excessive Force

26. Every one who is authorized by law to use force is criminally responsible for any excess thereof according to the nature and quality of the act that constitutes the excess.

 

This means that:

  • The level of force used in a situation is your responsibility
  • The blame for and excessive force can fall upon you

Section 27 - Prevention of an 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 anyone; 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).

Section 30 - Preventing Breach of the Peace

  1. Every one who witnesses a breach of the peace is justified in interfering to prevent the continuance or renewal thereof and may detain any person who commits or is about to join in or to renew the breach of the peace, for the purpose of giving him into the custody of a peace officer, if he uses no more force than is reasonably necessary to prevent the continuance or renewal of the breach of the peace or than is reasonably proportioned to the danger to be apprehended from the continuance or renewal of the breach of the peace.

Section 34 - Defence of Persons

*This section is what most people are likely concerned about with self-defence and defence of others. It is very much recommended that you memorize the essential meaning of this section.

  • (1) A person is not guilty of an offence if
    • (a) 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;
    • (b) the act that constitutes the offence is committed for the purpose of defending or protecting themselves or the other person from that use or threat of force; and
    • (c) the act committed is reasonable in the circumstances.
  • Factors

(2) In determining whether the act committed is reasonable in the circumstances, the court shall consider the relevant circumstances of the person, the other parties and the act, including, but not limited to, the following factors:

  • (a) the nature of the force or threat;
  • (b) the extent to which the use of force was imminent and whether there were other means available to respond to the potential use of force;
  • (c) the person’s role in the incident;
  • (d) whether any party to the incident used or threatened to use a weapon;
  • (e) the size, age, gender and physical capabilities of the parties to the incident;
  • (f) the nature, duration and history of any relationship between the parties to the incident, including any prior use or threat of force and the nature of that force or threat;
  • (1) any history of interaction or communication between the parties to the incident;
  • (g) the nature and proportionality of the person’s response to the use or threat of force; and
  • (h) whether the act committed was in response to a use or threat of force that the person knew was lawful.
  • No defence

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply if the force is used or threatened by another person for the purpose of doing something that they are required or authorized by law to do in the administration or enforcement of the law, unless the person who commits the act that constitutes the offence believes on reasonable grounds that the other person is acting unlawfully.

Section 35 - Defence of Property

(1) A person is not guilty of an offence if

  • (a) they either believe on reasonable grounds that they are in peaceable possession of property or are acting under the authority of, or lawfully assisting, a person whom they believe on reasonable grounds is in peaceable possession of property;
  • (b) they believe on reasonable grounds that another person
    • (i) is about to enter, is entering or has entered the property without being entitled by law to do so,
    • (ii) is about to take the property, is doing so or has just done so, or
    • (iii) is about to damage or destroy the property, or make it inoperative, or is doing so;
  • (c) the act that constitutes the offence is committed for the purpose of
    • (i) preventing the other person from entering the property, or removing that person from the property, or
    • (ii) preventing the other person from taking, damaging or destroying the property or from making it inoperative, or retaking the property from that person; and
  • (d) the act committed is reasonable in the circumstances.

No defence

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply if the person who believes on reasonable grounds that they are, or who is believed on reasonable grounds to be, in peaceable possession of the property does not have a claim of right to it and the other person is entitled to its possession by law.

No defence

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply if the other person is doing something that they are required or authorized by law to do in the administration or enforcement of the law, unless the person who commits the act that constitutes the offence believes on reasonable grounds that the other person is acting unlawfully.

 

Section 265 - What is Assault

ASSAULT

  1. (1)A person commits an assault when
    • (a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;
    • (b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or
    • (c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.

Section 71 & 83 - Duelling and Prize Fighting

Duels

Marginal note:Duelling
  1. Every one who
  • (a) challenges or attempts by any means to provoke another person to fight a duel,
  • (b) attempts to provoke a person to challenge another person to fight a duel, or
  • (c) accepts a challenge to fight a duel,

is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

Prize Fights

Marginal note:Engaging in prize fight

83. (1) Every one who

  • (a) engages as a principal in a prize fight,
  • (b) advises, encourages or promotes a prize fight, or
  • (c) is present at a prize fight as an aid, second, surgeon, umpire, backer or reporter,

is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Definition of“prize fight”

(2) In this section, “prize fight” means an encounter or fight with fists, hands or feet between two persons who have met for that purpose by previous arrangement made by or for them, but does not include

  • (a) a contest between amateur athletes in a combative sport with fists, hands or feet held in a province if the sport is on the programme of the International Olympic Committee or the International Paralympic Committee and, in the case where the province’s lieutenant governor in council or any other person or body specified by him or her requires it, the contest is held with their permission;
  • (b) a contest between amateur athletes in a combative sport with fists, hands or feet held in a province if the sport has been designated by the province’s lieutenant governor in council or by any other person or body specified by him or her and, in the case where the lieutenant governor in council or other specified person or body requires it, the contest is held with their permission;
  • (c) a contest between amateur athletes in a combative sport with fists, hands or feet held in a province with the permission of the province’s lieutenant governor in council or any other person or body specified by him or her; and
  • (d) a boxing contest or mixed martial arts contest held in a province with the permission or under the authority of an athletic board, commission or similar body established by or under the authority of the province’s legislature for the control of sport within the province.

 

Section 88-90 - Weapon Possession Offences

*Note that since a weapon is defined as "an object used to inflict bodily harm or physical damage" carrying a weapon outside of a law enforcement or security role can be considered an offense. It is up to you to prove why the weapon being carried is not for the purposes of assault and "self defense" does not cut it.

 

Possession Offences (weapons)

Marginal note:Possession of weapon for dangerous purpose

88. (1) Every person commits an offence who carries or possesses a weapon, an imitation of a weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition for a purpose dangerous to the public peace or for the purpose of committing an offence.

  • Marginal note:Punishment

(2) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1)

  • (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
  • (b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
  • R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 88;
  •  1995, c. 39, s. 139.

Marginal note:Carrying weapon while attending public meeting

89. (1) Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, carries a weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition while the person is attending or is on the way to attend a public meeting.

  • Marginal note:Punishment

(2) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

  • R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 89;
  •  1995, c. 39, s. 139.

Marginal note:Carrying concealed weapon

90. (1) Every person commits an offence who carries a weapon, a prohibited device or any prohibited ammunition concealed, unless the person is authorized under the Firearms Act to carry it concealed.

  • Marginal note:Punishment

(2) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1)

  • (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
  • (b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Prohibited Weapons

*Note that former does not mean no longer in effect. These are the currently prohibited weapons. Exceptions are usually made for martial arts weapons like nunchaku and the three-section-staff so long as it is being taken to and from training and not simply being carried around

Former Prohibited Weapons Order, No. 1
  • Any device designed to be used for the purpose of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person by the discharge therefrom of
    • (a) tear gas, Mace or other gas, or
    • (b) any liquid, spray, powder or other substance that is capable of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person.
Former Prohibited Weapons Order, No. 2
  • Any instrument or device commonly known as “nunchaku”, being hard non-flexible sticks, clubs, pipes, or rods linked by a length or lengths of rope, cord, wire or chain, and any similar instrument or device.
  • Any instrument or device commonly known as “shuriken”, being a hard non-flexible plate having three or more radiating points with one or more sharp edges in the shape of a polygon, trefoil, cross, star, diamond or other geometrical shape, and any similar instrument or device.
  • Any instrument or device commonly known as “manrikigusari” or “kusari”, being hexagonal or other geometrically shaped hard weights or hand grips linked by a length or lengths of rope, cord, wire or chain, and any similar instrument or device.
  • Any finger ring that has one or more blades or sharp objects that are capable of being projected from the surface of the ring.
Former Prohibited Weapons Order, No. 3
  • Any device that is designed to be capable of injuring, immobilizing or incapacitating a person or an animal by discharging an electrical charge produced by means of the amplification or accumulation of the electrical current generated by a battery, where the device is designed or altered so that the electrical charge may be discharged when the device is of a length of less than 480 mm, and any similar device.
  • A crossbow or similar device that
    • (a) is designed or altered to be aimed and fired by the action of one hand, whether or not it has been redesigned or subsequently altered to be aimed and fired by the action of both hands; or
    • (b) has a length not exceeding 500 mm.
Former Prohibited Weapons Order, No. 4
  • The device known as the “Constant Companion”, being a belt containing a blade capable of being withdrawn from the belt, with the buckle of the belt forming a handle for the blade, and any similar device.
  • Any knife commonly known as a “push-dagger” that is designed in such a fashion that the handle is placed perpendicular to the main cutting edge of the blade and any other similar device other than the aboriginal “ulu” knife.
  • Any device having a length of less than 30 cm and resembling an innocuous object but designed to conceal a knife or blade, including the device commonly known as the “knife-comb”, being a comb with the handle of the comb forming a handle for the knife, and any similar device.
Former Prohibited Weapons Order, No. 5
  • The device commonly known as a “Spiked Wristband”, being a wristband to which a spike or blade is affixed, and any similar device.
Former Prohibited Weapons Order, No. 6
  • The device commonly known as “Yaqua Blowgun”, being a tube or pipe designed for the purpose of shooting arrows or darts by the breath, and any similar device.
Former Prohibited Weapons Order, No. 7
  • The device commonly known as a “Kiyoga Baton” or “Steel Cobra” and any similar device consisting of a manually triggered telescoping spring-loaded steel whip terminated in a heavy calibre striking tip.
  • The device commonly known as a “Morning Star” and any similar device consisting of a ball of metal or other heavy material, studded with spikes and connected to a handle by a length of chain, rope or other flexible material.
Former Prohibited Weapons Order, No. 8
  • The device known as “Brass Knuckles” and any similar device consisting of a band of metal with one or more finger holes designed to fit over the fingers of the hand.