Can You Go to Jail for Self-Defence in Canada?

Can You Go to Jail for Self-Defence in Canada

Every human has the right to keep his life safe from attackers. But can you go to jail for self-defence in Canada? Before you reach for pepper spray or a Taser gun, understand the legal landscape surrounding self-defence in Canada.

To make you safe, we aim to highlight this complex topic, where we want to protect yourself from self-defence actions.

Is Self-Defence Legal in Canada?

Yes, self-defence is legal in Canada under Section 34 of the “Criminal Code.” But the key lies in the principle of “reasonable force.” You can use force to defend yourself or others, but it must be reasonable or similar to the threat. 

Can You Stab Someone in Self-Defence in Canada?

No, using a knife in self-defence in Canada is extremely risky and rarely considered a reasonable force. The potential for serious injury increases legal punishment. So you have to escape, convince the attackers, or scream to get people’s help.

What are the Self-Defence Laws in Canada?

The legal framework surrounding self-defence is nuanced. Here are some key points to the rules of attacking the attackers.

  • Reasonable Force: The force must be proportional to the threat.
  • Honest Belief in Danger: You must genuinely believe that you or someone else is in imminent danger.
  • No Provocation: You cannot act aggressively before resorting to self-defence.
  • Duty to Retreat: If possible, you should try to retreat from the situation before using force.

What are the Facts Regarding Self-Defence?

  • Injury from a knife or sharp objects significantly increases the legal consequences.
  • The police will investigate the incident, and you may need to explain your actions in court.
  • The use of deadly force is only justified in extremely rare situations where people’s lives are in grave danger.

Can You Go to Jail for Self-Defence in Canada? 

We already know that excessive force during self-defence can land you in jail, although defending yourself is legal in Canada. Here are the instructions for self-defence by the government in threatful situations:

  • Excessive force is illegal.
  • No weapons for defence.
  • Retreat if possible.

So, always prioritize de-escalation and retreat. For the best legal advice, consult a self-defence lawyer. But wait! What forces are considered reasonable, and how do we get an idea of the pressure? Let’s explain that!

Reasonable Force for Self-Defence

It’s not straightforward to determine the “measurement” of reasonable force in self-defence situations. It’s more of a context-dependent concept that hinges on several factors. We can only say that the force you use must be the same as the threat you face.

Alternate Options for Self-Defence

If there is no way to control your defence with reasonable force, follow these options; you must retreat before using force. Do not stand your ground and fight if you can safely avoid the confrontation.

What Can I Use for Self-Defence in Canada?

Generally, carrying weapons solely for self-defence is illegal. Remember that even using everyday items can have legal repercussions if deemed excessive. In a harder situation, you can use any readily available object to defend yourself. The objects are better in blunt condition.

What Self-Defence Weapons are Legal in Canada?

The self-defence tools in Canada include small perfume sprays, toy tasers, and multi-purpose tools. But carrying common items like baseball bats, kitchen knives, or screwdrivers can raise legal eyebrows. You can end up in jail if the jury requires evidence.

What are the Self-Defence Situations?

  • Fending off a physical attack
  • Escaping unwanted advances or assault
  • Preventing theft or robbery
  • Evading unlawful detainment
  • Responding to menacing threats

What Can I Carry for Self-Defence in Canada in those Situations?

While weapons are generally not advised, there are legal self-defence weapons in Canada, such as:

  • Personal Alarms: These can attract attention and deter attackers.
  • Key Chains with Safety Whistles: Similar to personal alarms, they can create noise and alert others.
  • Self-defence Training: Learning proper techniques can help you defend yourself without using weapons.
  • Umbrella: You can use the large umbrella as a stick, as the umbrella is lightweight and cannot cause major harm to anyone.

You might wonder if you want to use a gun to protect yourself in case of self-defence. Remember that you might get penalties and in many cases, you may go to jail for Illegal Gun Possession in Canada.


So, it is clear that you can go to jail for self-defence in Canada. So whenever anyone attacks you, protect your life and try to escape as fast as possible. For better results, consider self-defence training such as martial arts or karate. Contact our lawyers, who can advise you even better.


Is self-defence a crime in Canada?

No, self-defence is not a crime in Canada. But there are some legal boundaries around it. You can use reasonable force to defend yourself or others from an imminent threat, but the force must be proportional to the danger. Excessive force or weapons will declare you a threat in the court.

Can you carry a knife for self-defence in Canada?

Carrying a knife in Canada is legal, but not for self-defence—intent matters. Having one for everyday tasks (fishing, camping) is fine, but carrying it solely for protection can lead to trouble. Choose safety first: prioritize de-escalation and retreat.

Is self-defence with keychains legal in Canada?

In Canada, self-defence keychains like knuckles, pepper spray, and tasers are illegal if carried solely for protection. However, keychains with safety whistles, alarms, or basic tools like bottle openers are usually okay, as long as self-defence isn’t the main reason.

Is pepper spray legal in Canada for self-defence?

Nope! Pepper spray, even for self-defence, is illegal in Canada. It falls under “prohibited weapons,” and carrying it can lead to big fines and even jail time. Prioritize de-escalation and retreat. If unsure, seek legal advice.

Is bear spray legal in Canada for self-defence?

In Canada, bear spray is legal for self-defence, but only against wild animals, not humans. Using it against a person is illegal and can result in serious criminal charges.

Can you shoot someone in self-defence in Canada?

No. Using deadly force in Canada is extremely risky and rarely considered reasonable. The potential for serious injury or death increases legal consequences significantly.