Is it a Crime to fake your own death in Canada?

August 7, 2021

Psuedocide is legal in Canada.

Psuedocide is legal in Canada.

It is not a crime to fake your own death in Canada.

 What is psuedocide?

  • Psuedocide refers to the phenomenon of someone faking his or her own death.
  • While there can be many motivators for psuedocide, it is most often a last resort for people wishing to avoid financial or legal problems or to defraud life insurance companies.

Is psuedocide legal?

  • While there is no specific provision in the Canadian Criminal Code that criminalizes psuedocide, the action can be associated with other criminal charges.

What are the criminal charges associated with psuedocide?

  •  Fraud, in the instance of insurance fraud.
  • Obstruction of justice, in the instance that someone was trying to evade a police investigation.
  • Public mischief in the instance that someone was trying to evade a police investigation and/or commit insurance fraud.
  • These charges can potentially be laid against an individual who is alleged to have committed psuedocide if the context in which they did it satisfies the charges.
  • Ultimately it would be up to Crown to decide whether or not any recommendation for criminal charges satisfies any sections in the Canadian Criminal Code as there is nothing specific to faking your own death.
  • There have also been incidents of psuedocide where someone simply wishes to disappear and start their life over.
  • In cases where a desire to start over is the only motivating factor it is unlikely that an individual would face criminal charges.

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How have people committed psuedocide?

  • There are different methods to commit psuedocide but typically people fake their own death by faking their drowning, as the absence of their body would be easier to explain.
  • Some people who want to disappear have used tragedies such as the bombing of the World Trade Centrers as a cover for their plan.
  • It is reported that at least two people pretended to have died in the September 11 attacks.

 Psudocide in Canada

  • Canadian, Jeremy Daniel Oakley committed psuedocide in 2004 when he is alleged to have faked his own death to escape his criminal charges.
  • At the time Oakley was facing one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference with a person under 16.
  • It is alleged that he had an obituary run in a Halifax newspaper stating he died in an accident near Toronto.
  • His charges were stayed shortly after.
  • Eventually his plan failed as information that Oakley was alive surfaced. He was arrested in Nova Scotia on an unrelated investigation and his fingerprints indicated he was deceased.
  • Money is a primary motivator for people who have committed psuedocide.
  • Incidents of psuedocide have occurred, involving husband and wife, where they make an attempt to defraud an insurance company.
  • Typically one partner will fake their own death while their partner collects their life insurance policy.
  • The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association isn't aware of any recent cases of anyone being investigated for insurance fraud after faking their own death.
  • However it follows that if someone were successful in committing psuedocide no record would exist of their transgression.
  • It is impossible to definitively say how widespread this phenomenon is.
Jonathan Pyzer
Written By:
Jonathan Pyzer
Criminal Defence Lawyer (B.A., L.L.B.)
Jonathan is a highly skilled and sought after criminal defence lawyer who represents clients charged with criminal offences all over the Province of Ontario. He is a member in good-standing with the Law Society of Upper Canada, Criminal Lawyers’ Association and Toronto Lawyers Association.
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