The right to defend your property is a dicey issue in the Canadian legal system. Two property owners responded with gunfire to intruders and were charged under Canadian law. The first case came to a conclusion with a conviction for careless use of a firearm against a 19 year old First Nation (Native Canadian) man. Gerry Bigchild was given a conditional sentence for the conviction which means that he will do community service and then have no criminal record upon successful completion . . .
Bigchild shot a trespasser aboard a stolen ATV on his property and was promptly charged with several of the Canadian version of felony weapon and aggravated assault offenses.
A jury chose to find him not guilty of the more serious charges and instead convicted Bigchild of the lesser weapon charge. Bigchild was apparently a good kid that found himself in a volatile situation on family property, so the judge gave him a light sentence under Canadian law.
But it is clear that Canadian criminal law prevents any clear defense of property without fear of arrest. The individuals involved in the shooting were clearly a case of criminal vs. landowner, yet the landowner was charged with the most serious offenses.
The other case is similar to the first case because another landowner used a shotgun to prevent three criminals from stealing his ATV. Farmer Brian Knight [above] was also charged with assault and assault with a weapon, but these charges were withdrawn with Knight’s guilty plea to the criminal negligence charge.
Knight will be sentenced for his conviction on May 26. The interesting question is whether he will serve time for the crime; a likely prospect given the gravity of the crime under Canadian criminal law.
The court of public opinion in western Canada would not have charged or convicted either man for what was essentially an invasion of their property. The individuals involved in both incidents were demonstrably good guys or bad guys- no shades of gray for anybody in either situation.
But it is tough to pick out the good guys under Canadian law, a country where protecting one’s property might land you in the jail cell right next to the lowlife that started the whole problem.