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8.3.2 - Checklist: Common Law Self-Defence

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[This checklist can be used if there is evidence from which a jury might infer that the accused was acting in self-defence when s/he:

It is designed to be used together with a checklist outlining the elements of the relevant offence. Details of that offence will need to be inserted in the appropriate places.]

In addition to proving all of the elements of [insert offence], the prosecution must also prove that the accused did not act in self-defence. This requires the prosecution to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that when the acts said to constitute the offence were committed, either:

  1. The accused did not believe that it was necessary to do what s/he did to defend him/herself; or
  2. The accused’s belief that it was necessary to do what s/he did to defend him/herself was not based on reasonable grounds.

 

Belief in Necessity

1. Has the prosecution proven, beyond reasonable doubt, that the accused did not believe that it was necessary to do what s/he did to defend him/herself, at the time s/he committed the relevant acts?

Consider – What were the circumstances as perceived by the accused?

If Yes, then the accused is guilty of [insert offence]
(as long as you are satisfied that the prosecution has also proven
all of the elements of that offence beyond reasonable doubt)

If No, then go to Question 2

Reasonable grounds

2. Has the prosecution proven, beyond reasonable doubt, that the accused’s belief that it was necessary to do what s/he did to defend him/herself was not based on reasonable grounds?

Consider – What were the circumstances as perceived by the accused?

If Yes, then the accused is guilty of [insert offence]
(as long as you are satisfied that the prosecution has also proven
all of the elements of that offence beyond reasonable doubt)

If No, then the accused acted in self-defence and is not guilty of
[insert offence] (as long as you also answered No to Question 1)

Last updated: 1 November 2014

See Also

8.3 - Common Law Self-Defence

8.3.1 - Charge: Common Law Self-Defence