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Q: definition of "Person in Authority" ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: definition of "Person in Authority"
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: grthumongous-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 20 Dec 2004 15:59 PST
Expires: 19 Jan 2005 15:59 PST
Question ID: 445310
In law, define "Person in Authority".
Jurisdiction is Canada within Ontario.
I know a schoolteacher and ships master (Captain Highliner) qualify but who else?  

I tried to look with Google but I couldn't phrase it correctly for a definition
Subject: Re: definition of "Person in Authority"
Answered By: bitmaven-ga on 25 Dec 2004 00:47 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

Thanks for the question.  According to various sources, a person is
considered a "person in authority" if they have some capacity to act
in legal control over another, or the accused would feel that they
have some degree of control over their person to carry legal harm if
the person were to confess.

The Ontario Court of Appeal has set out the following principles for
determining who is a person in authority: (1) as a general rule, a
person in authority is someone engaged in the arrest, detention,
examination or prosecution of the accused; (2) in some circumstances,
the complainant in a criminal prosecution may be considered to be a
person in authority; (3) the parent of an infant who is the injured
party or complainant in a criminal prosecution may be a person in
authority (such a conclusion would depend upon the factual
background); (4) in some circumstances, a person not in authority
could become clothed with authority when in the presence of those
actually in authority that person offers an inducement, and those
actually in authority do not dissent from it; (5) the question of
whether or not a person obtaining a statement is a person in authority
is to be viewed subjectively from the point of view of the accused
person; (6) a person who is a witness for the prosecution will not, as
a general rule, be deemed to be a person in authority; and (7) a
psychiatrist, even when examining an accused to make a dangerous
sexual offender determination, will not be considered to be a person
in authority. R. v. B. (A.) (1986), 13 O.A.C. 68 (Ont. C.A.).

I don't believe this extends solely to criminal matters.  Which is why
the control aspect is important.  For instance, ships masters aren't
likely to exert the same control, with respect to confession, but by
the law, they would be considered a 'Person in Authority' due to the
legal power they possess to maintain 'good order and discipline' on
their vessel. Further examples of 'Persons in Authority' include, but
are not limited to:

    * police officers;
    * previous employers;
    * religious leaders;
    * managers and signing officers of banks, trust companies and credit unions;
    * judges and justices;
    * members of Senate, House of Commons, and the Legislature; and
    * people who engage in or practice any occupation which requires
accreditation or licensing by any law in Canada.

This seems to be (based on a cursory view of the caselaw) largely
determined by the courts, though various statutes, such as the
Canadian Criminal Code (below) offer protection for proscribed classes
of 'Persons in Authority.'


Protection of Persons in Authority

Correction of child by force

43. Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a
parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil
or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does
not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 43.

Master of ship maintaining discipline

44. The master or officer in command of a vessel on a voyage is
justified in using as much force as he believes, on reasonable
grounds, is necessary for the purpose of maintaining good order and
discipline on the vessel.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 44.

Surgical operations

45. Every one is protected from criminal responsibility for performing
a surgical operation on any person for the benefit of that person if

(a) the operation is performed with reasonable care and skill; and

(b) it is reasonable to perform the operation, having regard to the
state of health of the person at the time the operation is performed
and to all the circumstances of the case.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 45.

Search term used: Person * Authority +Canada

I also consulted the Canadian Encyclopedic digest for the test of what
a 'Person in Authority' would be.


Request for Answer Clarification by grthumongous-ga on 27 Dec 2004 14:31 PST
Who/what would be in the intersection of the set of all "person in
authority" and the set of all "law enforcement", where "law" is
federal or provincial laws?

e.g. would a uniformed security guard meet the test?

Clarification of Answer by bitmaven-ga on 27 Dec 2004 19:38 PST

I am not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.   The scope of your
question begs for a legal opinion, which is actually beyond my
competence and beyond your original request.  However, I will offer a
few cases that can provide further clarifications of what the courts
in Ontario will consider a 'person in authority.'

While the court in R. v. Dyer (1979 CarswellAlta 271), did not analyze
whether a security guard was a 'person in authority' the court did
hold that the failure of the trial court to inquire as to whether a
security guard was a person in authority was enough to necessitate a
new trial.

In the case of R. v. B., 1986 CarswellOnt 100 the court stated in a
case not directly on point, that

"(1) As a general rule, a person in authority is someone engaged in
the arrest, detention, examination or prosecution of the accused. When
the word "examination" is used, I believe it refers to interrogation
by police officers, detention or security guards and members of the
Crown attorney's office."

I would highly encourage you to seek further legal assistance if this
is a question you would like a definitive answer on.  Hopefully, this
can provide a little more assistance to what you're looking for.

For this search, I used "Person in authority" & security /2 guard in
the Westlaw Database.
grthumongous-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Thanks for the extra effort.

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