Assault With A Weapon

March 13, 2023

R. v. M and A, 2006 ABPC 253

The accused was charged with assault with a weapon. The offence arose out of an altercation that took place at the Beer Hunter pub between the accused and the off-duty manager of the pub. The accuseds admitted that he struck the complainant with his fists during the fight, and a bar chair.

Nature of Application? Self Defence. Defence of others.

The issues to be resolved are:

  1. Has the Crown proven that A did not have a reasonable but mistaken belief that the complainant was consenting to a fist fight?
  2. Alternatively, has the Crown proven Mr. A was not acting in self-defence pursuant to s. 34(1) of the Criminal Code?
  3. Has the Crown proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. M was not acting in defence of his friend A by striking the complainant with a chair?


Mr. Royer, counsel for Mr. A submitted that his client should be acquitted because he was acting in self-defence.

The Court said:

Various sections related to self-defence are set out in the Criminal Code. The section applicable to the case at bar is s. 34(1).

“34(1) Everyone 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.”

It is important to repeat that the Crown has the onus of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was not acting in self-defence. However, to obtain the benefit of any self-defence provision relied upon there must be a reasonable doubt on all elements of that self-defence provision.

“The Crown is not required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused’s conduct fails on every element of the defence. It suffices if the Crown can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any one of the four elements set above was not established.”

I find that I have reasonable doubt about each of the constituent elements in s. 34(1); therefore, self-defence is made out. Although Mr. A was somewhat unreasonable and perhaps unwilling to pay his bill at the time of the offence… this does not necessarily lead to a finding that the force he used was disproportionate. An accused is not expected when required to act in self-defence to weigh his force with nicety.

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