What are Crimes of Revenge?

Crimes of revenge are acts of violence or other illegal activities committed by an individual in response to a real or perceived wrong that has been done to them. These acts are often carried out with the intention of seeking retribution or revenge for the real or perceived injustice.

Revenge can be motivated by a variety of different acts, including the following:

● cheating, infidelity or adultery;
● being insulted, especially on the basis of race, gender, religion or sexuality;
● failing to repay a debt;
● economic competition;
● loss of business or clients;
● being treated unfairly at work;
● sabotage by a coworker or business partner;
● disclosure of a secret;
● jealousy or envy; and,
● family disputes over inheritance, property or children.

The type of revenge one takes can vary wildly. Here are some common examples of crimes of revenge:

● physical assault;
● harassment;
● stalking;
● mischief to property or vandalism;
● theft;
● breaking and entering;
● defamation;
● distributing intimate images, also known as “revenge porn”;
● sending false communications;
● making false police reports; and,
● arson.

In some cases, these crimes can escalate into more serious offences, such as murder or sexual assault.

Why do Crimes of Revenge Occur?

Crimes of revenge are often motivated by strong emotions, such as anger, jealousy, or vindictiveness. The offender may feel that the only way to achieve justice is through violent or illegal means.

In some cases, offenders may feel that the legal system has failed to provide them with the justice they seek, and therefore, they believe they must take the law into their own hands.

In other cases, societal and cultural factors may also play a role. For example, in some cultures, honour-based violence is used as a way to restore the family’s honour when it may have been compromised.

Regardless of the motive, there is no legal justification for a crime of revenge.

Man in handcuffs has been arrested for committing crimes of revenge

The Legal Defence of Provocation

There is a defence in the law of provocation, however, it only applies to a charge of first or second-degree murder. Provocation is a defence where the deceased person commits a wrongful act or insult that deprived an ordinary person of the power of self-control. Even then, it is only a partial defence that can reduce a verdict from murder to manslaughter.

Provocation is not a defence for any crime of revenge other than murder. This means that it is not a defence to say that an insult or wrongful act caused the offender to lose self-control and to commit offences of assault, theft or the distribution of intimate images, to cite a few examples. The context of an offence may reduce an offender’s moral culpability and therefore the sentence they receive; however, there is no special defence available for someone who has been accused of a crime of revenge.

Related: What is Aggravated Assault?


Crimes of revenge are taken very seriously by the Canadian legal system, and can result in severe penalties. Depending on the nature and severity of the offence, the offender may face imprisonment, fines, or other penalties.

If you are charged with or investigated for a crime of revenge, it is highly recommended that you hire a lawyer to defend your case. The experienced lawyers at Filkow Law regularly deal with all kinds of crimes of revenge. Contact us today for legal help.