Weapons Charges – Including Firearms Offenses
Some 70 pages of the Criminal Code are dedicated to “Firearms and Other Weapons”. In addition, there are other sections which cover such things as using a weapon during the commission of another offense, such as robbery or any of the sex crimes.
In Edmonton, weapons charges are serious offenses. If you are facing any firearm or other weapons offenses, you need to get a lawyer.
Firearms, knives and the like are not the only objects that can be considered “weapons” under the Criminal Code. For some purposes, it does not matter exactly what the object is, but rather what purpose the accused put the object to, or was going to put the object to. If you assault someone with a flashlight (not typically a weapon) by beating them about the head, you can be charged with assault with a weapon. The same holds true for hammers, baseball bats and any number of other objects which can be used to devastating effect if used as a weapon.
What Is or Can Be Considered A Weapon?
As mentioned above, any object can be used to inflict an injury on another person can be considered a weapon for some purposes under the law. In other words, any such object can be termed a weapon.
Having said this, there are some items which are more generally considered illegal under the law. These can include:
- Some firearms and firearm silencers
- Some explosives
- Some fake guns, hoax bombs
- Some brass or steel knuckles
- Some chemical dispensers
- Some knives which are deemed illegal
But be careful and talk to a lawyer. Not all of these are necessarily illegal for all purposes. Sometimes it depends on the precise situation as to whether or not one of these is considered to be a weapon.
As said, there are approximately 70 pages in the Criminal Code that deal firearms and other weapons offenses. Talk to a lawyer. These cover a host of subjects, some of which include:
- Antique firearms
- Automatic firearm
- Cartridge magazines
- Exporting firearms
- Imitation firearms
- Import, licenses
- Prohibited ammunition
- Prohibited devices
- Prohibited firearms
- Prohibited weapons
- Prohibition orders
- Replica firearms
- Restricted firearms
- Restricted weapons
- Barrel length
- Certain weapons deemed not to be firearms (then there are exceptions)
- Antique firearms
Notice that there can be a difference between prohibited weapons and firearms and restricted weapons and firearms and different laws can affect each differently. There are registration requirements for some of these.
Section 2.1 of the Criminal Code provides some definitions of various types of firearms, weapons and other such things by referring to and adopting the provisions of section 84. Section 2.1 reads as follows:
2.1 In this Act, “ammunition”, “antique firearm”, “automatic firearm”, “cartridge magazine”, “cross-bow”, “handgun”, “imitation firearm”, “prohibited ammunition”, “prohibited device”, “prohibited firearm”, “prohibited weapon”, “replica firearm”, “restricted firearm” and “restricted weapon”, as well as “authorization”, “licence” and “registration certificate” when used in relation to those words and expressions, have the same meaning as in subsection 84(1).
Section 84 of the Criminal Code then goes on to provide definitions for all of the following:
- “antique firearm”
- “automatic firearm”
- “cartridge magazine”
- “chief firearms officer”
- “Commissioner of Firearms”
- “firearms officer”
- “imitation firearm”
- “prohibited ammunition”
- “prohibited device”
- “prohibited firearm”
- “prohibited weapon”
- “prohibition order”
- “registration certificate”
- “replica firearm”
- “restricted firearm”
- “restricted weapon”
The ending of the Canadian “long gun registry” has further complicated matters. The Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act, came into effect on April 5, 2012, Bill C-19. This enacted a number of changes. Again, talk to a lawyer.
Less Serious Violations
The more minor violations of weapons statutes generally occur when the weapon in question was not used during a crime. Sometimes it is even possible that a person be violating a certain weapon law without knowing about it, such as if storing a firearm in an unsafe manor, which can amount to a criminal offense.
In some situations, the carrying or transporting of a weapon without a license could be considered a relatively minor offense.
Other examples of minor violations could be:
- Selling a weapon unlawfully
- Buying a stolen/illegal weapon, perhaps unknowingly
- Breach of an order, perhaps unknowingly
- Concealing a weapon, without any violent intent
- Carrying a loaded weapon
- The illegal bringing into Canada a weapon, without knowing it was a problem.
These violations might be considered minor as compared to the more major examples set out below – but they can still attract significant consequences such as heavy fines, jail time and forfeiture. So even though these have been listed as “minor” weapons charges, Canada is a peace loving country and almost any weapon or firearm offense is considered serious.
More Serious Charges
The most serious weapons charges are probably when a weapon has been used during a crime. Displaying or even just pretending to have a real (or fake) gun during a robbery is guaranteed to attract very serious consequences and prison time that tends toward the longer, as opposed to the shorter.
If a weapon is actually brandished or discharged, things get worse.
Simply possessing a weapon during a crime even if it is concealed can lead to a lengthy prison sentence.
It is common for the courts in Canada to impose weapons bans on people convicted of weapons offenses – sometimes for life.
A weapons charge is one of the most serious criminal allegations which can be levied against you. Your best chance of getting a favorable verdict is hiring an experienced lawyer. Consequences and repercussions from convictions on weapons offenses can follow a person for decades.
If you have been charged with any weapons offenses, Geoff Green can help protect your rights. The law considers you innocent until proven guilty, and gives you the opportunity to have a lawyer with you throughout the whole process. Don’t waive your rights to a lawyer – call Geoff today.
Geoff Green – Criminal Defence Lawyer For Alberta
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