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Charged with Assaulting a Police Officer – Can you win?

The Basics – Assaulting a Police Officer Charges

As with any criminal offence, there are elements of the offence that must be proven by the Crown beyond a reasonable doubt before any accused person can be found guilty. In the case of assaulting a police officer, there must be an assault. An assault is an intentional application of force to another individual without the consent of that person. It also includes threatening, accosting or impeding someone while carrying a weapon or making an act or gesture that makes that other person to believe that you will carry out the assault. For example, waving around a baseball bat while yelling that you will hit another person would likely qualify.

Elements of the offence

There are other elements that the Crown must prove in the charge of assault police officer. The Crown must prove that the officer was in the lawful execution of his duties. For this to occur, the officer must identify himself as a police officer. And, the officer must be engaged in an action to execute or complete his duties. If those elements cannot be proven by the Crown, the client should be acquitted.

Recent example

In May of this year, a Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench judge ruled in a lawsuit against the City of Winnipeg and a police officer that officers who had entered the motel room of a family of four did so unlawfully. The police had been called to the motel for a complaint of a disturbance but, on their arrival, there was no disturbance taking place. Three members of the family were subsequently charged with assaulting a police officer. The judge ruled that one of the officers laid the charges to cover-up the actions of the police and awarded the family $97,000 in damages. The judge ruled that the officers were not in execution of their duty and, even if they were initially, their actions went beyond what was necessary in the circumstances.

So, how might I beat the charge of assaulting a police officer?

Getting arrested is, in itself, a restraint on one’s freedom. Physical force is not an essential ingredient of an arrest although it is sometimes required to complete an arrest. If an officer, in the process of a lawful arrest or other execution of his duty, uses force that goes beyond what is required in the circumstances, this may result in an acquittal on a charge of assault police.

What is going beyond the execution of an officer’s duty?

In February, 2019, a Toronto police officer was convicted of assault causing bodily harm as a result of an interaction that he had with a cyclist. The Judge ruled that the officer used excessive force during the arrest of the cyclist. The cyclist had apparently gone through a red light and the officer stopped him. After being hesitant getting out his identification, the cyclist was shoved to the ground by the officer and he broke his shoulder and his toe and had other injuries.

An arrest is not the only way that an officer might be executing his duty. Police duties might include search of your car, house or person, crowd control at an event or crime scene protection. If you have been charged with assaulting a police officer during what turns out to be an unlawful search or unlawful execution of an officer’s duties, this may result in an acquittal.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH ASSAULT OF A POLICE OFFICER, CALL AITKEN ROBERTSON TO ENSURE THAT YOUR RIGHTS ARE PROTECTED.

Mary-Clare MacKinnon

Mary-Clare MacKinnon joined the Aitken Robertson Team in 2015 to assist the firm with their bail hearings in courts all across Ontario. She brings many years of decorated experience in the field of law to the table, all the while, having a background in music and education.

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