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Criminal and Civil Law of Canada

Mr. & Mrs. Downing purchased a rural 50-acre property in Slate River, Ontario. The property is enclosed with a wire fence and a gate at each end. Inside this fence is a dirt laneway and approximately halfway along the laneway is a wooden bridge allowing passage over a fast flowing creek. In recent months the Downing’s have had to deal with several ATV’s and hikers travelling through their property. In several instances the Downing’s have managed to speak to these trespassers and advised them that this is private property and they did not want anyone using their property for any purpose.

The intrusions have continued onto the Downing’s property; this has resulted in the posting of signs along the pathway, in both directions. The signs posted were composed of a red 10 centimeter circle on a white background. These signs were clearly visible. The fence line was also used to alternately post signs stating private property. Each gate used to enter the enclosed space had private property signs on them also and were general left closed.

On a Saturday, August 15, 2017 the Downing’s were walking on their property and heard a loud noise. Upon further examination, they observed that an ATV had driven into their bridge and caused major damage to the structure. The ATV had also suffered extensive damage and was partially embedded in the creek bed. Shortly thereafter they noticed a male walking towards the rear of their property. The Downing’s approached this male who appeared to be in his early twenties and had blood on his face. The male was belligerent and uncooperative, failing to identify himself. The Downing’s at this point told the unknown male that he was under arrest for trespassing and a shoving match ensued; the trespasser pushed Mrs. Downing to the ground and she suffered scrapes and scratches on her arms. Mr. Downing didn’t have to resort to physical apprehension and the trespasser remained with him until the police arrived. The police officer arrested the unknown male who was later identified as Charles James.

Some points to consider:
Does this fall under the Criminal Code, Provincial Offences and/or Civil Law?
Did the Downing’s have the grounds to arrest Mr. James?
Did the police officer have the grounds to arrest Mr. James?
Will the ATV belong to the Downing’s since it was left on their property?
What basic rights do the Downing’s have and what are the legal mechanisms by which these rights are enforced?
How can the Downing’s get compensation for the damaged bridge?

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