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Firearms Offences/Illegal Firearm Possession

If you have been charged with a firearms offence or for the possession of an illegal firearm, know that you have the right to experienced legal counsel to protect your rights.

The Crown prosecutor takes firearms charges seriously, and there are severe consequences and penalties if you are convicted. However, firearms offences depend on the circumstances and other factors that may have occurred.

According to the Firearms Act of 1995 and the Criminal Code of Canada, possessing a firearm is a heavily regulated activity. It has become even stricter with the 2002 establishment of the gun registry.

In Canada, it is illegal to possess a weapon that may pose a danger to the public. Some of these prohibited firearms are handguns less than 105mm in length, rifles or shotguns less than 660mm in size or have a certain barrel length of less than 457mm, and automatic weapons that have been altered. Handguns that are designed to fire with .25 or .32 caliber ammunition are also prohibited.

Also, transporting firearms requires the authorization of your province's Chief Firearms Officer (CFO), and if you do not follow the regulations, you can be charged with a firearms offence.

Many firearm offences carry minimum prison sentences, which could affect your life drastically. Most offenders who are imprisoned will find that their relationships, careers, education, and future prospects will be greatly hindered.

At Brett Gladstone Law Corp., we will consider all possible defences and use our extensive knowledge of prohibited weapons, such as firearms, to acquit you. Please consult with our legal team to learn how we can help you remove this stain on your criminal record.

What Typically Happens to Those Convicted of Fraud?

Firearms and other weapons can be found in sections 86-95 in the Criminal Code of Canada. You can find out the many different types of charges that can be laid against individuals within the country regarding illegally possessed firearms and firearms offences.

However, our expert team knows all the inner workings of the laws associated with firearms, and has several defences that they can use to defend you and get you acquitted.

But first, there is a range of charges people can be convicted with.

Use Offences

Did you know that you can be convicted for using a firearm even if you did not mean to cause harm to another person? That means that even pointing an unloaded firearm at a person can be an indictable offence if the Crown chooses to prosecute.

Not to mention, the gun does not have to be loaded for you to be charged as it is considered the "careless use of a firearm, and contravention of storage regulations." The sentence for these offences usually varies between 1-2 years.

Lastly, there is the intentional use of a firearm (or an imitation firearm like a replica) while committing an indictable offence like robbery or a home invasion. Using a gun can result in up to 14 years in prison for a first offence if the Crown prosecutors pursue it as an indictable offence.

Possession Offences

There is a range of possession offences and differing rulings that will apply when it comes time for the Crown prosecutor to press charges. For some use or possession charges, the court may choose to try the cases as a summary conviction, ending up with significantly lower sentences. The charges for "use" offences are typically between six months to one year.

For a list of possible possession offences:

  • Possession for a dangerous purpose
  • Carrying a concealed firearm
  • Unauthorized possession of a firearm
  • Knowingly possessing an unauthorized firearm or ammunition
  • Possession of a restricted or prohibited firearm with ammunition
  • Attending a public meeting while carrying a concealed firearm
  • Possession in an unauthorized place
  • Unauthorized firearm possession in a motor vehicle
  • Possession of a firearm that was obtained by committing an offence
  • Breaking and entering to steal a firearm
  • Robbery to steal a firearm

If you are charged with the last two offences, these are automatically tried as indictable offences resulting in life imprisonment. When you are charged with carrying a concealed weapon, this, too, can be an indictable offence with a maximum prison sentence of up to five years. And if you are carrying a firearm in your vehicle illegally, this is considered unauthorized possession in a motor vehicle. This charge can also be laid as an indictable offence and can end up with a sentence of 10 years in federal prison.  

Assembly Offences

There is some ambiguity when it comes to making an automatic firearm through the alteration of the weapon. Basically, it all depends on how the Crown prosecution deals with the case and what stipulations or methodologies were used in altering the firearm. For the majority of those convicted, the sentencing can range from 1-10 years.

Import or Export of Firearms Offences

If you have imported or exported a firearm, knowing that it is unauthorized, the sentencing can be based on whether or not you were aware you were acting illegally. Despite this, a first offence for firearms importing and exporting can range between 3-20 years.

Other Offences

Other common offences involving firearms are:
  • Illegally destroying a firearm
  • Losing a firearm
  • Finding a firearm and failing to report it to the authorities
  • Making false statements to a police officer about the whereabouts of the weapon
  • Tampering with the serial number on a firearm

These offences can be summary or indictable crimes based on the conditions and situations involved. Summary offences tend to carry lower sentencing, while an indictable offence can be as high as five years for a first offence.

Possible Defence Strategies

When working with us at Brett Gladstone Law Corp., we will explore every avenue that will lead to a reduction or even an acquittal of the firearms charges. Some of these strategies include:

The Evidence Should be Excluded

Due to a breach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is possible to argue that the evidence was found during an illegal search, interrogation, or at an unjustified traffic stop by police officers. You have the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure. We can use this to potentially have the evidence thrown out of court.

Self-Defence

This defence can be tricky, as the circumstances of your charges, the intent behind the actions, and how harmed the attacker was can all play a role in how the Crown will prosecute the case. Ultimately it is up to the judge and your lawyer's defence on your behalf. When attempting a self-defence strategy in court, the ball can go either way.

Intoxication

Sometimes, intoxication may act in favour of the accused as it can negate the intent factor when committing a firearms offence. To convict a potential offender, they must be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt is needed. If a person is under the influence of drugs and alcohol, it can be said that the intoxicants influence the act.

Unpremeditated Use

If the firearm was legally obtained, even though it was later used as a weapon, doubt can be raised about what the firearm was used for, like gun clubs, ranges, or clay-pigeon shooting events. This can display that the gun was not meant to be used with illegal intent and can lead to reduced sentencing.

The Next Steps

Always remember that despite being charged with a firearms offence, it doesn't mean you will be convicted. Your legal team is here to advise you from the moment you are arrested for the charges until the final verdict. A Manitoba criminal defence lawyer is a great investment, especially when it comes to potentially spending years doing time in prison.

We can:
  1. 1
    Provide actionable legal advice
  2. 2
    Provide resources for your family
  3. 3
    Advise you on your career/education plans and how this may affect them
  4. 4
    Represent you in court
  5. 5
    Aim to reduce or throw out your case from court

Contact us at Brett Gladstone Law Corp. We have the skills and knowledge to get you an acquittal. A consultation will help us determine the best course of action, and we will let you know how and why we are approaching the case as we see fit. Our primary goal is to prevent a firearm offence from keeping you from living your best life.
Reach out to us as soon as you have been arrested, and do not speak or make a statement until you have legal counsel. We are here for you. Call us anytime.

FAQs

Can I legally own a firearm if I’m convicted of a felony?

Typically, you will not be able to own a firearm if you have been convicted of a felony. This is especially true if violence was used, threatened, or attempted on another, be it your former or present partner. This is also true if you have been involved with terrorism, criminal harassment, drug-related crimes, or an offence under the Cannabis Act.

Can I be charged with a firearm offence if I didn’t use the firearm?

Yes, you can be charged with a firearm offence, even if you didn’t use the firearm. Potential charges include:

  • Careless use of a firearm
  • Not meeting storage regulations
  • Pointing a gun, whether it is loaded or not
  • Possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes
  • Carrying a weapon in public
  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Unauthorized possession of the firearm
  • Possession at an unauthorized place
  • Possession in a motor vehicle

If you are unsure whether your case is indeed fraud, contact our team to see how we can help you with your legal situation. We will be able to tell you whether you have a case against someone if you are a victim of fraud. Or, if you have been accused, we know what to do to ensure you receive fair representation.

How do I defend myself against firearm charges?

It depends on what the charges are. A legal team with experience in firearms and their laws will serve you best in defending yourself from firearm charges. These types of charges depend a lot on your circumstances concerning the event in question and can result in many different sentences.

Can I legally use a firearm in self-defence?

If you are trying to protect yourself, another person, or your property, you are allowed to use reasonable force. This can include lethal force, though it depends on your individual case and if the defendant’s actions were deemed as reasonable force.

Can I be charged with a firearm offence if the firearm wasn’t mine?

Yes. This falls under the unauthorized possession of a firearm. If you do not have a firearm license, you can be found guilty of an indictable offence that cannot exceed five years in prison. You can also be found guilty and receive punishment for a summary conviction that involves different penalties and prison time.

What is the difference between a firearm offence and a weapons offence?

Whether you are charged with a firearm or weapons offence, you are still liable for a summary or indictive possession offence. The usual punishment is an indictable offence where you are liable for no more than 10 years of prison time.

What are the different types of firearm offenses?

There are several charges that you can receive for firearm use. These include:

  • Possession of a firearm
  • Discharging a firearm unlawfully
  • Have an illegal and loaded gun in a vehicle
  • Unlawful sale of a firearm
  • Possession or sale of other weapons (knives, brass knuckles, etc.)
  • Possession for dangerous purposes
  • Carrying a concealed weapon

What are the potential penalties for firearm offenses?

If you use a firearm, even if it is not loaded, or if you carelessly store one, you can face two years for careless use. Or you can be charged for using a firearm, which can result in 1-14 years in prison.

You can face a maximum of five years for carrying a concealed weapon. For unauthorized possession in a vehicle, it is an indictable offence that can result in you serving 10 years in federal prison. And you can receive a maximum of life imprisonment if you commit a break-and-enter or robbery to steal firearms.

Can I legally carry a concealed weapon?

Unless you have the authorization to carry, having a concealed weapon on your person is illegal. In order to receive that right, you typically have to have a reason or occupation where firearms are needed to protect your life and the lives of others. Another reason the right to carry is granted is when someone is in a remote wilderness and must protect people from wild animals. Or if they are trappers and are authorized and trained.

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