Ontario Criminal


Defences

De minimis non curat lex
No error in application of de minimus principle in assault case

Accused and female complainant were in relationship. Accused asked complainant if he could borrow her car to drive to work. Complainant refused because accused was suspended driver but she offered to drive him to work. Accused refused offer and he grabbed complainant by her shoulders, pushed her down onto couch and told her that relationship was over if she did not give him keys. Complainant threw keys on couch and left home. Accused chased complainant and he caught her and put his arms around neck. Witness saw accused choking complainant and he told him to let her go. Accused denied that he choked complainant. Trial judge found that accused’s version of events was contradicted by evidence of complainant and witness and he rejected accused’s evidence. Judge also found that principle of de minimis non curat lex did not exonerate accused for even though pressure he inflicted on complainant’s neck lasted for only 10 seconds it was serious because it started to interfere with complainant’s breathing. Accused appealed conviction for assault. Appeal dismissed. Judge did not err in his application of de minimis principle.

R. v. Wojcik (Nov. 17, 2015, Ont. S.C.J., André J., SCA(P) 471/14) 127 W.C.B. (2d) 101.

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