Rescue or Permitting Escape Laws in Canada Explained

By Last Updated: June 6, 2024

What is a charge of Rescue of Permitting Escape?

Rescue or Permitting Escape Charges in CanadaRescue or permitting escape is covered under section 147 of the Criminal Code of Canada. It occurs when a person knowingly aids, assists, or helps someone escape from lawful custody in Canada.


Some examples of a charge of Rescue of Permitting Escape may include the following:

  • A person employed at a prison who wilfully permits someone to escape from lawful custody
  • A person who provides assistance and enables someone to escape from custody who has just been arrested by the police
  • A person who rescue’s someone from custody who has recently escaped and requires aid or assistance to further their evasive action.


The defences available to a charge of Rescue or permitting escape are entirely dependent on the facts of your case.

However, some defences to a charge of Rescue or Permitting Escape may include:

  • The accused was wrongly identified as the person who committed Rescue or Permitting Escape
  • The accused did not intend to provide aid, assistance, or concealment to a person who escaped custody by providing food, shelter, or other goods
  • The accused did not know the person they were providing aid or assistance to had escaped lawful custody.


A charge of Rescue or permitting escape is an indictable offence, which entails a maximum punishment as follows: 

  • Imprisonment for a term not exceeding five (5) years.

Have you been charged with Rescue or Permitting Escape?

Our experienced team of criminal defence lawyers is standing by to help you fight the charge. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the specifics of your case and craft a formidable defence.

Call Now 1-866-939-5940

Overview of the Offence 

According to s. 147 of the Criminal Code:

Rescue or permitting escape

147 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

(a) rescues any person from lawful custody or assists any person in escaping or attempting to escape from lawful custody,

(b) being a peace officer, wilfully permits a person in his lawful custody to escape, or

(c) being an officer of or an employee in a prison, wilfully permits a person to escape from lawful custody therein.

The Guilty Act (Actus Reus)

The actus reus for a charge of Rescue or Permitting Escape under s. 147 is established by proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, of the following:

  • The accused provided aid, assistance, or permitted the escape from a person in lawful custody

The Guilty Mind (Mens Rea)

The mens rea for a charge of Rescue or Permitting Escape under s. 147 includes proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:  

  • The accused knew the person they were permitting or providing assistance to was in custody and their actions would in fact assist their escape


How to Beat a Rescue or Permitting Escape Charge

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 Rescue or Permitting Escape charge:

Factual innocence

A strong defence against a Rescue or Permitting Escape charge is to maintain that you are factually innocent. If you can show that the facts and the evidence do not support that you provided aid, assistance, or rescued a person who was in custody.

Lack of Intent/Mistake 

If you can show that you were never seeking to commit the offence of Rescue or Permitting Escape, and were merely providing charity in good faith without knowledge of the person’s circumstance who had recently escaped lawful custody, then this may be a defence. For you to be convicted of Rescue or Permitting Escape, the crown must prove that you had knowledge that your actions would result in furthering the escape or a person in lawful custody, or that you permitted it.


Depending on the circumstances of your case, a possible defence to a rescue or permitting 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 for those convicted of a Rescue or Permitting Escape charge.

Frequently Asked Questions  

What does Rescue or Permitting Escape mean?

Rescue or Permitting Escape means to assist, facilitate, provide aid to, or permit a person who was in custody to escape from custody. It means to help someone escape or rescue someone who escaped.

Is Rescue or Permitting Escape an indictable offence?

Yes, Rescue or Permitting Escape is an indictable offence.

Can you go to jail for  Rescue or Permitting Escape?

If you are convicted of rescue or permitting escape, you can go to jail. A charge of rescue or permitting escape carries a maximum sentence of no more than 5 years. Therefore, there is a possibility that you can go to jail if convicted.

Published Decisions

 R v. Stutt 1979 CanLii 521 (BCCA)

The accused provided rescue and aided the escape of a person from lawful custody. During transport, a prisoner fled, and contacted the accused from a farmhouse. The person who escaped custody was taken in by the accused at her residence. The person who escaped was later located by police at the accused’s residence.

You can view the full case summary here.

R v. Harrer, 1998 CanLII 5396 (BC CA)

The accused was charged after assisting a prisoner escape in Vancouver, British Columbia. The person in custody was in Vancouver awaiting extradition to the United States. The accused later admitted to assisting the person escape from custody by providing escape tools.

You can view the full case summary here.

R v. Johnston and Keating, 1973 CanLII 1390 (BC CA)

The two accused’s drove to a prisoner in British Columbia, met, and planned to meet again in an abandoned garage nearby 8 hours later. The plan was kept, and the accused’s drove the prisoner to 100-mile hour British Columbia, travelling on back roads (which appears to be to avoid law enforcement detection).

You can view the full case summary here.

Contact Us

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, visit our location pages to contact our team.

About The Author

Michael Oykhman

Managing Partner

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.

Ask A Question

We endeavor to respond to questions within 24 hours. If your matter is urgent, please call our office or submit a request for a free consultation.

Client Reviews

Michael Oykhman is a very professional lawyer and the first time I spoke to him he asked about my situation and he gave me some very helpful advice and assistance and also told me his odds of winning this case. During the days I was in contact with micheal I could feel the level of professionalism of him and his team, he is able to respond back to you with any questions you have within 24 hours. In the end he was as successful in helping me win my case as he had initially promised me.If you are still struggling to find a lawyer, I highly recommend Michael Oykhman.


Please give yourself a favour and contact Mr. Michael Oykhman if you need any legal advice or if you are in a terrible situation. Even-tough, the odds are not in your favour, still they will go extra miles to help you out in bad situation and get you favourable outcome. Moreover, They will work on your file even after the business hours. I don’t have words to say thanks to Mr. Michael oykhman and Kiran Cheema who had worked on my file and get me out of trouble. I’m very grateful for your assistance and exceptional service. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.


I am grateful that Ms. Moira McAvoy was my lawyer, and I remain thankful to her for everything. She made a successful resolution to my case possible. Ms. Moira McAvoy is a professional, trustworthy lawyer, and a compassionate person. She is an excellent listener and knowledgeable of the law. From the start, she was an excellent guide. I did not know anything about the legal system and court, and she outlined everything clearly in advance, so I could understand things. She never rushed me through anything. She spoke clearly, explained everything, considered what I said, and provided options and advice. She kept me up to date on new information, requirements, and deadlines. She was always positive and this helped so much.


Ryan Patmore and his team are simply the best. I was bullied by CPS in 2020 and it landed me with three separate charges, assault, refusal to blow and DUI, which all went down as I was parked at a friends. After some research and a conversation with Michael, he directed me towards Ryan and at the time I didn’t know that would be a game changer in my favour! He is honest, transparent, helpful and a brilliant mind. He successfully appealed my license suspension with ATSB and then proceeded to get the crown to dismiss all my charges before trial. I never had to step foot inside a courtroom. If you are in need of a criminal defence lawyer, don’t think twice, get in touch with this firm and ask for Ryan Patmore! The guy is an absolute saviour.


Joseph Beller, from the very beginning when I first contacted and then retained Joseph as my representative I felt I was in good hands. When I emailed him with a question. I got a prompt response. We communicated often on the phone as needed. Joseph kept me informed as to the process. He made sure I knew all the potential results so I knew and could plan for the different outcomes. I know this his his job. But appreciate his professionalism and also his ability to not make me feel any extra stress. Well done.