Friday, June 12, 2015

Arson is a general intent offence

R. v. Tatton, 2015 SCC 33:

The offence of arson in s. 434  of the Criminal Code  is a general intent offence for which intoxication falling short of automatism is not available as a defence. The actus reus is the damaging of property by fire. The mental element is the intentional or reckless performance of the illegal act. No additional knowledge or purpose is needed. No complex thought or reasoning processes are required. It is difficult to see how intoxication short of automatism would prevent an accused from foreseeing the risk of causing damage to someone else's property by fire. There is no need to resort to policy considerations to determine the appropriate classification of the offence. Had it been necessary to do so, the same conclusion would have been reached. Damage to property is often associated with alcohol consumption and it would erode the policy underlying the offence of causing damage to property by fire if an accused could rely on self‑induced intoxication as a defence.

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