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Road Rage

We read about it in the newspapers and online almost every other day it seems: some driver of a motor vehicle has landed himself in criminal court charged with one or more Criminal Code offences.

Of course, the often-repeated but not always heeded warning of never getting out of your car is the best way of avoiding almost every kind of unwanted consequence, criminal or otherwise. Anger management courses are available for those of us who may need help in controlling our fight or flight responses to improve our chances of avoiding being caught up in a violent or potentially violent episode involving the use of a motor vehicle.

But what about the situation where you have, for example, been threatened with a weapon or an imitation weapon and your path of avoidance is either blocked or otherwise dangerous to go down. The principle of criminal law becoming more and more popular in the United States, namely that of “stand your ground”, has no real application in Canada.

Simply put, an accused person charged with a violent offence such as assault, assault causing bodily harm or even possession of a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public either has available to her the defence of self defence or she doesn`t.

Road Rage in Ontario

Road rage

While not officially included in the Criminal Code, engaging in road rage can lead to a number of criminal charges such as:

It can also engage the law pertaining to Defence of person – s. 34

As you may imagine, there is often no shortage of willing by-standers or perhaps other drivers who are questioned and make statements to attending police officers. Unfortunately, their perception of actual events is often colored or distorted by their first impressions of who is the victim and who is the person acting more aggressively or in the attacking mode.

We can offer comment in these road rage cases that the role of a competent criminal defence lawyer is to challenge the observations of these Prosecution witnesses, both from the perspective of when they first became aware of the developing situation in relation to what they claimed they first saw or heard in their police statements as well as to cross examining them as to what their vantage point was at the time these observations were made.

In addition, the opportunity for road rage witnesses to talk over what they saw or heard prior to being questioned at the crime scene by the investigating officers is fertile ground for defence counsel to undermine the credibility of their observations based on the obvious, the likelihood that each witness is presenting a compilation of what they saw or heard as opposed to a recitation of their own personal recollections.

In the modern age, it is also becoming more common for witnesses who foresee a road rage encounter developing to record the event on their cell phone or other common recording device. A road rage video substantiating what a witness has seen can hold significant weight in court.

To sum up, once you find yourself on the wrong end of criminal charges stemming from a driving incident, the first thing we, at The Criminal Law Team suggest is that you make that call to get the very best criminal law defence available and to then let yourself know that our collective energies, experience and skill will give you, in your personal situation, the result you deserve.

 

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