Assisting a Prisoner of War to Escape Laws in Canada Explained

By Last Updated: June 6, 2024

What is a charge of Assisting a Prisoner of War to Escape?

Assisting a Prisoner of War to Escape Charges in CanadaAssisting a prisoner of war to escape, Section 148 of the Criminal Code of Canada. It prohibits

Assisting a prisoner of war to escape is a straight indictable offence.


Some examples of a charge of Assisting a Prisoner of War to Escape may include the following:

  • A person helps a person cross into a different jurisdiction or territory who is an enemy of war
  • A person responsible for security where a prisoner of war is held allows them to escape
  • A person helps a prisoner of war physically escape from custody


The defences available to a charge of Assisting a Prisoner of War Escape are entirely dependent on the facts of your case.

However, some defences to a charge of Assisting a Prisoner of war escape may include:

  • The accused was wrongly identified as the person who assisted a prisoner of war escape
  • The accused did not intend to assist a prisoner of war escape
  • The accused did not know that what they were doing would result in assisting a prisoner of war escape


A charge of Assisting a Prisoner of War is an indictable offence, which entails a maximum punishment of 5 years imprisonment if convicted.

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Overview of the Offence 

According to s. 148  of the Criminal Code:

Assisting prisoner of war to escape

148 Every person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction who knowingly

(a) assists a prisoner of war in Canada to escape from a place where he is detained, or

(b) assists a prisoner of war, who is permitted to be at large on parole in Canada, to escape from the place where he is at large on parole.

The Guilty Act (Actus Reus)

The actus reus for a charge of Assisting a Prisoner of War under s. 148 is established by proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, of the following:

  • The accused provided some type of aid or assistance to a prisoner of war which enabled their escape

The Guilty Mind (Mens Rea)

The mens rea for a charge of Assisting a Prisoner of War under s. 148 includes proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • The accused had knowledge that the person they were providing aid or assistance to was a prisoner of war


How to Beat a Charge of Assisting a Prisoner of War

Every case is different. The availability and strength of any defence depend entirely on the specific facts of your case. The strength of any available defence rests on the evidence against you and the precise details of the allegations. However, the following are some common defences that may be used when fighting a charge of Assisting a Prisoner of War:

Factual innocence 

A strong defence against an Assisting a Prisoner of War charge is to maintain that you are factually innocent. If you can show that the facts and the evidence do not support that you assisted a prisoner of war.

Lack of Intent/Mistake

If you can show that you were never seeking to commit the offence of Assisting a Prisoner of War to Escape, and were merely sending a magazine without knowledge of its entire contents. For you to be convicted of Assisting a Prisoner of War to Escape, the crown must prove that you had knowledge that the person who you provided assistance to was in fact, a prisoner of war, and being detained.


Depending on the circumstances of your case, a possible defence to an Assisting a Prisoner of War to Escape charge may be to raise an identity defence. In this case, for this defence to be raised successfully, you will have to prove that you were not the person who committed the prohibited acts.

Any applicable Charter defences

The Charter sets out your rights and freedoms before and after your arrest. If the police fail to abide by these rights deliberately or inadvertently, it could aid in your defence. If any of your Charter rights have been violated before or after your arrest, you may be able to have some or all of the evidence that the Crown is relying on to secure a conviction excluded under s. 24(2) of the Charter.


The Criminal Code provides for a possible maximum term of imprisonment of no more than 5 years imprisonment.

Frequently Asked Questions  

What does Assisting Prisoner of War to Escape mean?

Assisting a Prisoner of War to Escape means to knowingly, and wilfully, assisting a prisoner of war in Canada to escape from the place in which they are being detained. safeguard the federal mailing service from use for immoral and obscene purposes.

Is Assisting Prisoner of War to Escape an indictable offence?

Yes, Assisting Prisoner of War to Escape is an indictable offence.

Can you go to jail for Assisting Prisoner of War to Escape?

If you are convicted of Assisting Prisoner of War to Escape, the maximum punishment is 5 years imprisonment. Therefore, there is a possibility that you can go to jail if convicted.

Published Decisions

Rex v. Oma, 1915 CanLII 171 (SK CA)

The accused was convicted of charges for assisting enemies of war escape Canada.

You can read the full decision here.

 R. v. Kaehler, 1945 CanLII 418 (AB CA)

This landmark decision holds the five years imprisonment penalty for assisting a prisoner of war escaping.

You can read the full decision here.

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Michael Oykhman

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Michael Oykhman is a senior lawyer and founder of Strategic Criminal Defence, a full-service criminal law firm with central law offices across Western Canada and Ontario.

My professional experience consists of countless court appearances and thousands of successful defences and satisfied clients. Over the last 10 years, I have worked to build a law office where all the lawyers share our collective experience, resources, and passion to help people. Our team approach to legal representation is client–rather than only law–centred. We look for opportunities to add value to our clients through strategic thinking and creative solutions.

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