This page includes capsules that address defences in Canadian Criminal Law. A few caveats!

  1. Needless to say, this is not legal advice.  It is designed to provide introductory explanations of certain topics in criminal law.
  2. These materials were designed for my students taking part in my criminal law class- as such they are NOT supposed to be comprehensive or exhaustive of the subject.
  3. They were made with time constraints in mind.  There are errors throughout, and though I feel confident about the product generally, I did not attempt to correct every mistake made.  The goal was to put a good product together in a short period of time.
  4. Often, in the interests of time, certain points are generalized.  This doesn’t mean they’re “wrong”, but nuances are often fleshed out in the course materials or in class.  Rather than include caveats with every sentence, I sometimes make broad generalizations even though I’m aware there might be exceptions that can occasionally arise.  Again, the goal is to promote a generalized understanding that provides a platform for deeper learning.
  5. I will heartily disavow any attempt to rely upon these in conflict with another Professor, judge, lawyer, etc.  Thus, anyone who says “yes, but Professor Sankoff said X”… will receive no support from me!  Especially where exams are concerned, it is always good practice to follow your Professor’s view of the law.  If this material helps you, by all means use it, but do so with care.

In addition to the Capsules listed below, you may find my video blogs focusing on defences to be of use.

Intoxication- July 2015

In this capsule, I break down the different ways in which being intoxicated (whether it be by alcohol or drugs) can affect a person’s criminal liability. I provide a road map for the concept, examining the differences between voluntary and involuntary intoxication, specific and general intent offences and look at how extreme intoxication is treated.

Mental Disorder (Section 16 of the Code): Procedural Aspects – August 2016

This capsule examines some of the complexities involved with raising the defence of not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder (NCRMD) in Canada. Amongst other things, it focuses on the impact of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R v Swain, [1991] 1 SCR 933.