Gun charges frequently arise when houses and vehicles are searched during drug investigations. Domestic assault allegations also commonly give rise to firearms charges. In other cases, gun owners may unwittingly run afoul of the complicated firearms regulation regime in Canada.
Severe Penalties for Gun Offences
Gun offences are treated harshly in Canada. In general, offences involving handguns or fully-automatic firearms carry severe penalties. Using a gun (or imitation gun) in the commission of an offence carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence. Many other gun offences carry mandatory minimum sentences as well, including unauthorized possession of a loaded handgun.
Bail and Gun Offences
The Crown almost always opposes bail in gun cases. The Criminal Code places the onus on the accused to show why he should be released on bail for many firearm offences.
Types of Gun Charges
- Use of firearm in commission of an offence
- Possession of a loaded restricted or prohibited firearm with ammunition
- Possession of a firearm without holding a license and registration certificate
- Possession of weapon obtained by commission of offence
- Prohibited weapons charges
- Pointing a firearm
- Replica firearms charges
- Contravention of the storage and transportation regulations
- Being an occupant of a motor vehicle with a handgun
- Carrying a firearm in a careless manner
- Carrying a concealed weapon
- Possession of a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public peace
- Breaching a weapons or firearms prohibition order
- Weapons trafficking
Defending Gun Charges
If you have been charged with a gun offence in Ontario, the protections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will be key to providing you with a proper defence. If the police obtained the guns with an unconstitutional search or seizure, the evidence may be excluded at trial.
In many cases it will be unclear who owned or possessed the gun which is the subject of the charge. If the police find a gun hidden in a house or a car, for example, it may be difficult to prove who “possessed” the gun. In these situations it is important to retain counsel before dealing with the police. (You do not have be physically holding a gun to be in possession of one. Click here to read the Criminal Code definition of “possession”.)
The Crown may need to call expert evidence to prove that the alleged firearm meets the statutory definition of a “firearm”, “prohibited firearm”, “restricted firearm”, etc. In Ottawa, the Crown generally relies on experts from the Ottawa Police Guns and Gangs Unit or the Ontario Provincial Police Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit. These experts and their opinions must be carefully scrutinized and subjected to cross-examination.
GET HELP NOW
Contact Brett McGarry to discuss the best defence strategy for your firearm charge in Ontario at 613.884.8576 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The initial consultation is free.