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Firearms Offences

Fire Arms Offence

Adam Steven Boni, LL.B. - Firearm & Weapons Offence Lawyer In Toronto

A firearms conviction will result in jail and have devastating consequences for your or your loved one's life. Adam Steven Boni is a well-known Firearms Offence lawyer in Toronto and he has extensive experience in the defense of individuals charged with these offences. His knowledge of wiretap, search warrant and Charter of Rights law has been proven to offer a formidable defense in these cases.

In 2005, Mr. Boni successfully challenged the Public Safety Search Warrant section of the Criminal Code of Canada, which led to Parliament revamping the entire regime to bring it in line with our Charter of Rights. Over the years, he has obtained the rare remedies of a stay of proceedings and costs against the crown in these cases, as well as the exclusion of evidence under the Charter. You can read about his most recent, major victory in a firearms case here: https://canlii.ca/t/jr2mg.

If you or your loved one is charged with a Firearms or Weapons offence don't wait any longer - contact Adam Steven Boni, LL.B. and start preparing your defence.

Fire Arms Offence

Firearm & Weapons Offence Lawyer In Toronto



What Does the Criminal Code Consider to be a Weapon?

When we speak about weapons, most people immediately think of firearms, knives, swords, batons or brass knuckles. However, in Canada the criminal law defines "weapon" very broadly.

The definition of "weapon" in the Criminal Code goes beyond these traditional objects and includes any object that is used, designed to be used or intended for use in causing death or injury to any person, or for the purpose of threatening or intimidating any person. Proof that an item was a weapon depends on all of the circumstances.

The determination involves a subjective test of whether the accused person intended to use the item as a weapon. A broken piece of glass can be a weapon. A motor vehicle can be a weapon. So can a bottle of peanut butter that was thrown.

Weapons Dangerous and Carry Concealed Weapon

There are numerous weapons offences in Canada, such as possessing a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public ("weapons dangerous") and carry concealed weapon.

For the Crown to prove that you are guilty of possessing a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public peace, contrary to s.88 of the Criminal Code, the evidence must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person carried or possessed an object, the object was possessed as a "weapon", the accused had the weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public peace, and that there was a danger to the public peace.

A central issue in Weapons Dangerous cases is the purpose for which the weapon was possessed. Proof of the purpose for possessing the weapon may be established by the manner in which the weapon is used, as well as the circumstances and statements surrounding its use.

It is not sufficient to simply establish that what was done was in fact dangerous to the public peace. There must be proof of an intention for that purpose.

For the Crown to prove that someone is guilty of carrying a concealed weapon, the Crown must prove that the accused person carried a "weapon", that its was concealed, and that the accused person meant to conceal the weapon. The crown must prove hat the accused person subjectively intended to use the item as a weapon.

Courts have held that the word "carries" is not limited to a weapon on the accused's person or in his clothes. A person may "carry" a weapon if it is in an automobile over which he has care and control.

Finally, it must be proven that the weapon was "concealed", which means that 2it cannot be readily seen in ordinary observation by persons near enough to see it" and that the accused person intended to conceal it.

Possession of Prohibited Weapons and Devices

The Criminal Code goes further and creates additional offences in respect of "prohibited" weapons and devices as defined by the Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and Other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted, SOR/98-462.

For example, a "prohibited weapon" is defined to include a knife that has a blade that opens automatically by gravity or centrifugal force or by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in or attached to the handle of the knife.

"Prohibited weapon" also includes any weapon, other than a firearm, that is prescribed to be a prohibited weapon by Regulation SOR/98-462, such as:

  • Mace, Tear Gas and Pepper Spray;
  • "Nunchaku" sticks;
  • "Shurikens" or "Throwing Stars";
  • "Push-daggers";
  • Stun Guns;
  • A crossbow;
  • A "Spiked Wristband";
  • A "Kiyoga Baton" or "Steel Cobra"; and,
  • "Brass Knuckles".

It is an offence to possess a prohibited weapon in Canada, unless the person is the holder of a licence under which the person may possess it. Under s.117.11 of the Criminal Code, the onus is on the accused person to prove that he was the holder of a licence or authorization for the weapon in question.

The fact that it is not possible to obtain a license for a particular prohibited weapon is not a defence to this particular charge.

What Does the Criminal Code Consider to Be a Firearm?

Section 2 of the Criminal Code defines a "firearm" as a barrelled weapon that discharges projectiles capable of causing bodily harm or death, or anything that can be adapted as a firearm.

What does the Criminal Code not consider to be a Firearm?

For the purposes of the Criminal Code, the following devices are generally not considered firearms:

  • antique firearms
  • devices designed exclusively for signalling, notifying of distress, firing blank cartridges, firing stud cartridges, explosive-driven rivets, other industrial projectiles
  • shooting devices designed exclusively for slaughtering domestic animals, tranquilizing animals
  • air guns and other barreled weapons designed to have a muzzle velocity of 152.4 meters per second or less, or a a muzzle energy of 5.7 joules or less

Firearms Classification in Canada

Prohibited Firearms

The "prohibited firearms" class includes handguns that are less than 105 mm in length or those designed or adapted to discharge a 25 or 32 calibre cartridge. Also classified as prohibited are firearms adapted from a rifle or shotgun, whether by sawing, cutting or any other alteration, and that, as so adapted are less than 660 mm in length, 660 mm or greater in length with a barrel less than 457 mm in length, and automatic firearms (capable of firing bullets in rapid succession during one pressure of the trigger).

Other firearms prescribed to be "prohibited firearms" in the Regulations are also part of this class.

Restricted Firearms

The "restricted firearms" class includes handguns that are not prohibited firearms, having a barrel less than 470 mm in length, and which are capable of discharging centre-fire ammunition in a semi-automatic manner. Also included in this class are firearms that have been designed or adapted to be fired when their length is reduced to less than 660mm by folding, telescoping or otherwise.

Finally, any other firearms prescribed to be restricted firearms in the Regulations are also included in this class.

Non-Restricted Firearms

The class known as "non-restricted" firearms are typically any rifle or shotgun that is neither restricted or prohibited. Most common long guns used for hunting are non-restricted.

Firearms Offences: Possession and Use

There are many different firearms offences contained in the Criminal Code. Generally speaking they are divided into possession offences and "use" offences. "Possession" offences include:

  • Using Firearm in the Commission of an Offence;
  • Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm in a Motor Vehicle;
  • Possession of a Prohibited or Restricted Firearm with or without Ammunition;
  • Carrying a Concealed Firearm;
  • Possession of a Firarm Obtained by Crime.

An accused person charged with any of these possession offences may have a defence if the crown is unable to prove both knowledge and control over the firearm beyond a reasonable doubt. If the police violated the accused’s person’s Charter rights during the arrest process or during their search and seizure, the firearm may be excluded from evidence.

Other defences may arise if the accused was authorized to possess the firearm, or if he or she was using a firearm in direct supervision of another person who was lawfully entitled to possess it and was using it in a manner for which that person was lawfully entitled to use it.

The courts generally impose significant penitentiary sentences for illegal firearms possession offences, even for first offenders.

"Use" offences include:

  • Using Firearm in the Commission of an Offence;
  • Careless Use of a Firearm;
  • Trafficking a Firearm;
  • Importing/Exporting Firearms;
  • Pointing a Firearm.

There are different proof requirements for the offences in this category of firearms offences, and a variety of defences that may arise in the particular circumstances of each case.

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