DEFENCE OF PROPERTY
The new defence-of-property provision permits a person in peaceable possession of property, or a person assisting someone they believe to be in peaceable possession of property, to commit a reasonable act (including the use of force) for the purpose of protecting that property from being taken, damaged or trespassed upon.
The concept of "peaceable possession" has been interpreted by the courts to mean possession that is not likely to lead to a breach of the peace. It limits the defence to circumstances where it is appropriate. For instance, it prevents someone not in peaceable possession, such as a thief in possession of stolen property, from using the defence if they resist efforts of others to retake property. It also prevents the defence from being used by a property owner who commits an offence in order to recover or retake property that is not in their possession. For instance, a person whose car was towed cannot use the defence against a charge that they broke into the lot to retrieve their car. Rather, a person who is not actually in possession of property they have a claim to must resort to the civil law, or seek assistance from other authorities such as the police, to resolve a conflict over their entitlement to the property. A person must not resort to the commission of a crime in such non-urgent situations.
As with self-defence, a claim of defence of property against police action, such as the execution of a search warrant and the seizure of evidence from a person's house, is only available where the property possessor believes that the police are acting unlawfully.
Use of Deadly Force
The use of deadly force is only reasonable in very exceptional circumstances - for example, where it is necessary to protect a person from death or grievous bodily harm. The courts have clearly stated that deadly force is not considered reasonable in defence of property alone.
A technical guide on the new laws of self-defence and defence of property is available at: Technical Guide to Self Defence and Defence of Property Reforms
What You Need to Know About Making a Citizen's Arrest
Whenever possible, you should report wrongdoing to the police instead of taking action on your own. Police officers are equipped with the proper intervention tools and trained to deal with incidents which may escalate to become violent.Important Considerations
Making a citizen's arrest without carefully considering the risk factors may have serious unintended consequences for you and others involved. In most cases, an arrest consists of either actually seizing or touching a person's body in an effort to detain them.
Before deciding whether to make a citizen's arrest, you should be aware of the Citizen's Arrest Laws and consider the following:
-- Is it feasible for a peace officer to intervene? If so, report the crime to the police instead of taking action on your own.-- Your personal safety and that of others could be compromised by attempting an arrest. Relevant considerations would include whether the suspect is alone and whether they possess a weapon.-- Will you be able to turn over the suspect to the police without delay once an arrest is made?-- Do you have a reasonable belief regarding the suspect's criminal conduct?
Making a Citizen's Arrest
If you do decide to make a citizen's arrest, you should:
-- Tell the suspect plainly that you are making a citizen's arrest and that you are holding him or her until police arrive.-- Call the police.-- Ask explicitly for his or her cooperation until police arrive.-- Avoid using force, if at all possible, and use it to the minimum possible otherwise.-- Do not question or search the suspect or his or her possessions. Your purpose is only to temporarily detain him or her until police arrive.-- When police arrive, state the plain facts of what happened.