Weapons Offences in Canada
The Canadian Criminal Code sets forth a number of offences concerning the possession and use of weapons in Canada. Certain weapons, such as firearms, are strictly controlled and individuals who illegally possess or use these weapons face punishments including fines, firearms prohibitions and potentially lengthy prison terms. If you are in possession of a weapon that you are uncertain is lawful to possess or have been charged with a weapons offence you should consult with a criminal lawyer immediately. A legal consultation is available from Donnell Law Group, criminal lawyers serving Barrie, Newmarket and Toronto.
What is a Weapon?
Section 2 of the Criminal Code defines the terms weapon broadly. The section states that weapon means any thing used, designed to be used or intended for use in:
(a) in causing death or injury
to any person, or
(b) for the purpose of threatening or intimidating any person.
The section specifically specifies that firearms and anything used for binding or tying a person against their will constitutes a weapon, but cases from the court show that any object used to cause injury or threaten another person could be viewed as a weapon, including objects such as a jar of peanut butter or television remote control, depending how it is used by the accused.
What Firearms are Weapons?
Firearms are defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code as:
a barreled weapon from which any shot, bullet or other projectile can be discharged and that is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death to a person, and includes any frame or receiver of such a barreled weapon and anything that can be adapted for use as a firearm
There are still certain types of firearms that are legal to possess and use for lawful purposes such as hunting and target shooting, providing owners follow strict firearms regulations regarding the use, care and storage of their gun.
Some firearms are considered prohibited in Canada and may not be lawfully possessed. This includes handguns with short barrels (equal to or less than 105 mm), rifles or shotguns with shortened barrels and automatic firearms. Other types of firearms, such as handguns with barrels longer than 105 mm and guns that can be folded or telescoped to a length shorten than 660 mm are restricted and can be lawfully possessed or used in certain circumstances.
If you currently own or come into possession of such a firearm it is important to consult with a lawyer to advise you of your requirements to license the gun. Failure to properly register, handle and store a firearm can itself be a serious criminal offence even if you are not doing so with intent to commit a crime.
What Types of Weapons Offences are in the Criminal Code?
There are a wide-number of weapons offences in the Criminal Code. One of the most commonly charged weapons offences in assault with a weapon. Codified in section 267 of the Criminal Code, this crime makes it illegal to carry, use or threaten use of a weapon or an imitation weapon when committing an assault.
Other types of weapons offences included in the Criminal Code are pointing a firearm (section 87), careless use of a firearm (s. 86(1)), and use of a firearm during the commission of an indictable offence (section 85(1)).
How are Weapons Offences Punished?
Like most criminal offences in Canada, there is a wide range of circumstances a judge must consider when sentencing someone for a weapons offence. A judge will look at the entire circumstances of the offence, as well as the circumstances of the offender before the court, in determining the sentence. There is a wide-range of conduct that constitutes a weapons offence and an equally wide-range of possible sentences.
In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down two mandatory minimums relating to possession of prohibited or restricted firearms in the case of R. v. Nur, 2015 SCC 15,  1 S.C.R. 773. However, even with the mandatory minimums declared unconstitutional, the offenders in the case received sentences of 40 months and 7 years of incarceration, demonstrating that the courts view weapons offences very seriously.
Call Donnell Law Group for Criminal Lawyers Serving all of York Region.
If you or someone you know is charged with a weapons offence, or are in possession of a gun or other weapon and are unsure of its legality, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal law. Donnell Law Group has over 75 years of combined experience dealing with all criminal offences, including weapons charges. Located in Keswick, call our law office for help at 1-888-307-9991.