Navigating the Legal Landscape of Weapons Offences
The current firearms regulations in Canada are complex. Penalties for weapons offences may vary depending on the severity of your crime. Some penalties include fines or imprisonment while other serious cases can result in life sentences without parole being handed down by criminal courts across this country.
Learn more from attorneys at Sondhi Defence.
Unlike narcotics, whose mere possession is illegal for almost all Canadians, firearms play an important role in both rural and urban Canadian lives. There are approximately 6 million long guns currently held by law-abiding citizens across the country — controlled solely by their owners with strict regulations governing storage conditions to prevent misuse or accidents at any time during usage.
Types of Weapons Offences
What is a Weapons Offence?
Weapons and firearm charges can be a grave matter. You need to carefully consider your options before speaking with law enforcement, as anything said or written may be used against you and anyone involved in this situation (including family members). If the charge holds up well during questioning — do NOT give any statements without consulting a criminal defense lawyer first!
Weapons are anything that can be used to harm another person. A firearm, knife, or even your hands might all qualify as weapons if they’re employed with the intent of causing pain and/or injury. A simple look in any dictionary will show you what a weapon is: something meant for harming others— whether it’s firearms, a club, or rocks!
Even if you have legal ownership of a non-restricted firearm, but the weapon itself does not meet regulations of the Firearms Act, like being an unauthorized user or possession of ammunition, you can still be charged for Careless Use & Trafficking Weapons, which results in prison time of up to 10 years.
When you’re in trouble, it’s essential to have a strong team of lawyers on your side. Sondhi Defence handles all types of federal criminal cases and can help with any criminal charges you may be facing, including federal weapons offenses.
Keep reading to learn more about weapons offenses and how navigating the criminal justice system can be complex and challenging without proper representation.
The Difference Between Weapons and Firearms
The Criminal Code of Canada uses different language regarding weapons and firearms. Moreover, there are distinctions between prohibited and restricted weapons and firearms.
Restricted weapons can include any weapon except a firearm that is not prohibited. Prohibited weapons can consist of knives with blades that open automatically and other weapons specifically categorized as prohibited.
Restricted firearms can include certain rifles and semi-automatics. Owning restricted firearms may be allowed in certain situations, such as for collection or work. However, in these cases, certain requirements have to be met. Prohibited firearms, on the other hand, include for example, handguns of certain barrel lengths and fully automatic rifles.
Certain items almost always qualify as weapons under the law. But, some items like pocket knives and hunting knives may or may not qualify as weapons. That can depend on the circumstances of the offence. Also, some common rifles and shotguns don’t fall into the restricted or prohibited classification.
Guns / Firearms Charges
In Canada, possessing a weapon for any purpose considered dangerous to the public’s peace is illegal. Generally, weapons crimes refer to illegal or unlawful possession or use of restricted or prohibited firearms or other weapons. That can also include parts of weapons such as ammunition, magazines, or cartridges.
Carrying a weapon to inflict danger on a public space is illegal. It is a broad term and can include any purpose that disrupts the “normal state of society.”
Some of the most common weapons crimes include:
- Illegal possession offences
- Use offences
- Trafficking offences
- Assembling offences
In some cases, especially if the crime committed is a first offence, the Crown may decide to try the case as a summary offence. That means there will be no mandatory jail time. Also, sentencing maximums will be lower and include up to 6 months in jail. But, if firearms charges are tried as an indictable offence, crime may carry significant penalties.
Very often, weapons charges are laid along with other serious offences, such as drug trafficking crimes. There is no doubt that it is a grave matter when it comes to felony drug crimes. But, federal law and prosecution may be much more severe if firearms were present as well. That means if you are charged with a federal weapons offense on top of your felony drug crime, it can lead to higher penalties and even mandatory minimum penalties.
What Is the Sentence for Federal Weapons Charges in Canada?
In Canada, sentencing for federal weapons charges depends heavily on the specific offense committed and the surrounding circumstances. There’s no single “sentence” for all weapons charges. Here are some key points to remember:
Criminal Code (RSC, 1985, c. C-46) outlines the core offenses and penalties for various weapons-related activities.
Firearms Act (SC 1995, c. 39) governs licensing, registration, and other aspects of firearm ownership and use.
Types of Offenses and Penalties:
Possession of prohibited or restricted firearms without a license: This carries a minimum of 1 year in prison and a maximum of 10 years, with potential fines.
Unauthorized firearm transfer: This can range from 1 year to 10 years in prison, depending on the specific circumstances.
Using a firearm in committing a crime: This significantly increases the potential sentence, often involving multiple years in prison.
Violating storage and transportation regulations: Penalties vary but can include fines and prison terms depending on the severity of the breach.
Bill C-21: This recent legislation increases the maximum penalties for some firearms offenses to up to 14 years in prison.
Sondhi Defence Attorneys Can Help
According to Statistics Canada, following a decline in the early 2010s, firearm-related violent crime has generally been increasing. In an attempt to reduce and prevent assaults with a weapon as well as gun crimes, the mandatory minimum sentence for many offences involving firearms and illegal weapons is substantial. That is particularly the case for offenders with a criminal record and convictions for similar crimes.
If a person commits a weapons crime, hiring an experienced legal counsel is crucial to protect their legal rights. Attorneys at Sondhi Defence have an impressive track record in criminal proceedings. We have defended clients facing weapons charges as well as other serious charges such as murder or drug trafficking.
Firearms and weapons charges are serious criminal offences. Moreover, they are aggressively pursued by the prosecutors. If you have been detained or arrested on gun charges, contact our federal criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible.
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Get In Touch
If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence, call us right away at 1 (855) 4-SONDHI and get our team on your side.