CBC News: If we ever fear our family is in danger in public, do we have the right to defend them, even if the threat is a perceived one?
Nichols says this is the greyest area of the law, but, “unless the person was actually taking some sort of action, or was using some kind of assaultive force, you wouldn’t be justified in doing too much.”
Cohen says if a person reasonably believes a potential threat is imminent, and a judge agrees with the reasoning, then they would likely not be penalized for their actions.
“It's more difficult for Canadians to understand because it seems more people are involved in this type of situation in the United States,” he said.
The so-called perceived threat and the level of response is part of the practical reality that surrounds the law in these situations, Cohen says.
“There’s no necessity to retreat, as depending on the circumstances, it [defending yourself] could have been the right thing to do.”
It comes down to whether the amount of force used could be considered reasonable, given the situation. Cohen says, for example, “if you were getting out of your car and some young kid came up to you and started bugging you for money, and you didn’t give it to him and he became aggressive, the law wouldn’t support you if you beat them senseless.”
CBC News: Under what circumstances in Canada is the use of lethal force allowed?
Again, Nichols says the decision is in the judge's hands, and is made on a case-by-case basis.
“It all comes back to what is reasonable in the circumstance
,” she says. "A judge would have to find you had no other choice