TORONTO WEAPONS LAWYER
Weapons and firearm offences are prosecuted aggressively with sentences becoming more punitive. It is an offence to possess a weapon for the purpose of committing a criminal offence or for another purpose dangerous to the public peace. The current Canadian government continues to pursue minimum custodial sentences for weapon related offences. In our R. v. A.K. , the Firm secured a withdrawal for all cocaine and possession of firearm offences.
The Firm frequently defends gun collectors who are often facing charges of possessing prohibited weapons and allegations of careless storage of firearms and ammunition. The Firm has been retained to challenge applications by law enforcement to seize a gun collection even where no criminal charges are involved, these applications can occur where the police believe the collector has mental health issues.
The Firm has extensive experience in serious violent crime. In its R. v. A.Y. , it secured a withdrawal of Assault Causing Bodily Harm strictly on the basis of an evidentiary technicality. In its R. v. R.W.  the Firm defended the accused charged with cracking a person’s skull with a hammer in a Tim Horton’s washroom. It further provided expert advice regarding a warrant for blood sample seizure for a Halloween Murder at Canada’s Wonderland in 2014.
The Firm has also defended a number of people charged with Guns and Gangs in Toronto. It has extensive experience working with the Toronto Police Guns and Gangs unit and the Guns and Gangs Crown Prosecutors. In late December 2014, it secured Judicial Interim Release for an Accessory to Murder at the Garden Tree Restaurant in Toronto in its R. v. T.M. .
The weapon offences we handle include the use of cross-bows, brass knuckle, tasers and large knives, often seized in the context of drug, robbery, sexual and gang related offences. The use of a weapon in the context of these other serious offences is an aggravating factor, often resulting in the pursuit of greater penal sanctions.
Weapon offences are complex and have the potential for serious custodial sentences. In strategizing your defence, we critically analyze police conduct and investigative techniques, including police protocol in executing search warrants.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Firearm?
What is the Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm?
What are some of the Exceptions to the Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm?
What is a Weapon?
What is the Offence of Carrying a Concealed Weapon?
What are the Penalties for Possessing a Weapon?
What is a Firearm?
Section 2 of the Criminal Code of Canada defines a firearm as “a barrelled 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 barrelled weapon and anything that can be adapted for use as a firearm”. This means that essentially any gun or other weapon that can fire a projectile will be considered a firearm. This includes but is not limited to; handguns, hunting rifles, shot guns, long guns and assault rifles.
Aside from completed, fully functioning firearms, receiver blanks or “80% pistol kits” may also considered firearms under section 2 of the Criminal Code. A receiver blank is defined as the nearly complete receiver of a firearm. A receiver blank will be considered a firearm as defined by the Criminal Code once it has been manufactured to the point that it is destined to be nothing other than the receiver of a firearm. This type of weapon falls within the adaptability clause of the definition of a firearm.
What is a Prohibited Firearm?
As outlined in section 2 of the Criminal Code, a prohibited firearm is defined as follows;
- a handgun that
- has a barrel equal to or less than 105 mm in length, or
- is designed or adapted to discharge a 25 or 32 calibre cartridge, but does not include any such handgun that is prescribed, where the handgun is for use in international sporting competitions governed by the rules of the International Shooting Union,
- a firearm that is adapted from a rifle or shotgun, whether by sawing, cutting or any other alteration, and that, as so adapted,
- is less than 660 mm in length, or
- is 660 mm or greater in length and has a barrel less than 457 mm in length,
- an automatic firearm, whether or not it has been altered to discharge only one projectile with one pressure of the trigger, or
- any firearm that is prescribed to be a prohibited firearm
What is a Restricted Firearm?
As outlined in section 2 of the Criminal Code, a prohibited firearm is defined as follows;
- a handgun that is not a prohibited firearm,
- a firearm that
- is not a prohibited firearm,
- has a barrel less than 470 mm in length, and
- is capable of discharging centre-fire ammunition in a semi-automatic manner,
- a firearm that is designed or adapted to be fired when reduced to a length of less than 660 mm by folding, telescoping or otherwise, or
- a firearm of any other kind that is prescribed to be a restricted firearm
What is a Non-Restricted Firearm?
A non-restricted firearm is any shotgun or rifle that does not fit into the category of restricted or prohibited firearm. Most long guns commonly used in Canada are considered non-restricted but there are exceptions. It is important to determine whether your particular model of firearm fits into the definition of non-restricted firearm, as failure to properly register your firearm can lead to serious legal implications including seizure of your weapon and/or possible criminal charges.
Who is Authorized to Possess a Firearm?
The Firearms Act stipulates who is authorized to possess a firearm in Canada. Section 5 of the Act states that an individual will not possess a weapon if it is in the interest of the safety of any person that the individual does not possess a firearm. To determine who is eligible to possess a license for a firearm the judge or chief firearms officer will consider whether the individual has, within the last five years, been convicted of or discharged of an offence in which violence was used, attempted or threatened, any offence under the Firearms Act or Part III of the Criminal Code, the offence of criminal harassment under section 264 of the Criminal Code, or an offence relating to the contravention of subsection 5(1) or (2), 6(1) or (2) or 7(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. In addition, the individual must not have been treated for mental illness that was associated with violence or attempted violence against any person within the last five years. The individual must not have a history of violent behaviour including threats or attempted violence against any other person. Finally, the individual must not be prohibited from possessing a firearm as the result of a court order. In addition to the requirements listed above, an individual must also successfully complete a firearm safety course and all required testing prior to applying for a firearms license.
What is the Penalty for Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm?
In Canada, it is necessary to obtain a license for all firearms. Failure to obtain or possess the proper licensing for a firearm will lead to serious penalties for the accused. As outlined in section 91(1) of the Criminal Code, anyone who possesses a restricted, non-restricted or prohibited firearm without holding the proper licence and in cases of prohibited or restricted firearms, a registration certificate, is guilty of a hybrid offence. This means that the Crown will determine whether they wish to proceed summarily or by indictment. The Crown will take the severity of the offence as well as the characteristics of the accused and circumstances leading to the offence into consideration when making this determination. Should the Crown proceed summarily the maximum penalty they may receive is six months imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine. Should the Crown proceed by indictment, the maximum penalty the accused may receive is five years’ imprisonment.
There are two important exceptions to section 91(1) as outlined in section 91(4). The first exception is that an individual will not be guilty of unauthorized possession of a firearm if the person who possesses the prohibited, non-restricted or restricted firearm is under the direct supervision of an individual who does possess the correct license and registration certificate for the firearm. The second exception is an individual will not be guilty of the offence of unauthorized possession of a firearm if, after coming into possession of a prohibited, non-restricted or restricted firearm, they either lawfully dispose of it or obtain the correct license and registration certificate for it within a reasonable time.
How Must my Firearms Be Stored?
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police advises firearm owners on the correct storage of firearms and ammunition. They have outlined very specific procedures to follow for the safe storage of firearms and ammunition. These procedures are as follows;
To properly store a non-restricted firearm, the weapon should first be unloaded and then either locked with a trigger or cable lock, which prevents the gun from being fired, or placed in a secure container, box or room and locked inside. Ammunition must be stored in a separate, locked container or room.
Restricted and Prohibited Firearms
To properly store a restricted or prohibited firearm, the weapon must first be unloaded and then a trigger or cable lock must be fastened to the weapon, preventing it from being fired. The weapon, including the trigger lock, must then be placed into a secure container, box or room and locked inside. Alternatively, the firearm may be locked, without a trigger lock, inside a vault or safe specifically designed to store firearms. Ammunition must be stored in a separate, locked container or room.
What is the Penalty for Improper Storage of a Firearm and/or Ammunition?
According to section 86 of the Criminal Code, any person who, without lawful excuse, carries, handles, ships, transports or stores a firearm (non-restricted, restricted or prohibited), in a careless manner without taking reasonable precautions for safety will be guilty of a hybrid offence. This means the Crown may elect whether they want to pursue the case summarily or by indictment. Should the Crown proceed summarily the maximum penalty that can be imposed on the offender is six months imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine. Should the Crown proceed by indictment, the maximum penalty the accused can receive is two years imprisonment for the first offence and five years’ imprisonment for a second or subsequent offence.
Can I Display my Firearms in my Home?
Yes, but not without restriction. To display a non-restricted firearm in one’s home, they must first be fully unloaded. The individual must then secure a trigger or cable lock to the firearm to ensure it cannot be fired. Alternatively, the firearm could be secured, without a trigger lock, inside a cabinet or room that is difficult to break into. To display a restricted or prohibited firearm, the individual must first unload the weapon, attach and secure a trigger or cable lock and then attach the firearm to something that cannot be moved. Ammunition cannot be displayed alongside, or kept with the firearm under any circumstance.