Damaging Documents

Damaging Documents

The offence of damaging documents is outlined in section 377(1) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of damaging documents when they unlawfully destroy, deface, or injure a register of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, or burials required or authorized by law to be kept in Canada; when they insert a false entry in such a register or erase any material part from it; when they destroy, damage, or obliterate an election document; or when they cause an erasure, alteration, or interlineation within an election document.

Examples

Person A destroys their local church’s marriage register thinking that this will annul their marriage to person B.

Person C inserts a false entry into their local hospital’s birth register to legitimize their false identity.

Person D destroys person E’s candidate nomination form to prevent person E from running for mayor.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Not a Lawful Register

Where the person destroys, defaces, injures, or inserts a false entry into a register that is not of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, or burials required or authorized by law to be kept in Canada, they may not have completed the offence of damaging documents.

For example, where person A inserts a false entry into their personal hockey card collection register to make it seem as though they have a rare sports card in that collection, they may not have completed the offence of damaging documents.

Not an Election Document

Where the person destroys, damages, obliterates, or causes an erasure, alteration, or interlineation within a document that is not an election document, they may not have completed the offence of damaging documents.

Lawful Destruction

Where the person is lawfully destroying, defacing, injuring, damaging, or defacing a registrar required or authorized by law to be kept in Canada or an election document, they have not completed the offence of damaging documents.

Genuine Entry

Where the person is inserting a genuine entry into a lawful register of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, or burials required or authorized by law to be kept in Canada, they have not completed the offence of damaging documents.

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