Self-defence requires knowing how far to go, says lawyer

People can defend themselves and their property from thieves, but have to know how far they can take that, a lawyer said during a presentation at Canada’s Farm Progress Show earlier this summer.

Talon Regent, a defence lawyer in Moose Jaw, Sask., who previously worked as a federal drug crimes prosecutor, said people at risk are entitled to defend themselves.

“Where we end up in the media is always when there’s a really tough question about whether or not the steps a person has taken in self-defence go beyond what is considered reasonable,” he said. “Reasonable depends on every given circumstances but as a rule the amount of force that you’re exercising can’t be beyond what’s necessary to eliminate the threat to you.”

Regent said people have to ask themselves if their lives are in danger when they respond to a potential threat.

“If the answer is genuinely yes, the only way that I can save myself and my family is by taking this other person’s life … then certainly nobody is going to tell you you can’t defend yourself that way,” he said.

However, the law also says no life is worth someone’s property.

“If somebody is breaking into your Quonset and somebody is stealing an ATV, you are not allowed to leave your house with a weapon in order to stop them from doing that and take their life,” Regent said.

Nick Cornea, who established the popular Facebook page Farmers Against Rural Crime, encouraged people to set up cameras on their property to monitor activity and send information on to police.

“We love trail cameras,” added RCMP Staff Sgt. Devin Pugh.

Pugh said the number of subscribers to the Saskatchewan RCMP’s crime watch app was up to about 11,000 as of mid-June. The public can subscribe to alerts from any or all RCMP detachments around the province to receive notification of stolen items and suspicious activities.

Cornea also advised people to call 310-RCMP in non-life threatening situations because that will start a case file immediately.

“It is a game changer when it comes to reporting your crime,” he said.

Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities president Ray Orb said the number of rural crime watches in the province has risen from four to 180 as people realize they have to work together to prevent and resolve crimes.

“Some of these are rural and urban municipalities working together,” he said.

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