There are many different offences involving the unlawful use or possession of firearms. The most common and serious offences are discussed below.

Firearms offences are treated extremely seriously in Canada. This is reflected by the following fact:

  • It is generally more difficult to get released on bail if your charge relates to a firearm;
  • Many firearms-related offense come with stiff mandatory minimum jail sentences;
  • Most firearms offences carry the possibility that you can be banned from owning a firearm for the rest of your life if you are found guilty;
  • Using a firearm in the commission of another offence can result in minimum jail terms of at least one year.

A firearm is legally defined as: a barrelled weapon that can discharge a bullet or other projectile with enough power to cause serious bodily injury or death to a person.

The definition also includes any receiver or frame of that barreled weapon, and anything that can be adapted to be used as a firearm.

Being found guilty of a firearms offence will almost always raise the possibility that the Judge will ban you from owing, using or possessing any firearms, ammunition and other related items. These bans can last from 1 year to the rest of your life. Calgary Criminal Lawyers may be able to negotiate with the Crown to a plea to a less serious offence that carries a shorter firearms ban, or no ban whatsoever.

Additionally, we may be able to persuade a judge that no ban, or only a short ban, is necessary in your case.

Bail

The police and prosecutors are extremely cautious when it comes to determining the release of someone charged with a gun crime, as they will be exposed to professional discipline if that accused commits a subsequent violent crime while on release. This, combined with the fact that many firearms offences are “reverse onus” (the Judge will automatically rule that you are to be kept in custody unless you persuade her otherwise) means that you need a seasoned Calgary Criminal Lawyer in your corner when it comes to making bail.

The Defences

At the outset, it is important to know that no matter the charge, the Crown must prove that a firearm was used during the offence. This usually involves the police sending the item out expert testing and reports, which take a skilled legal eye to interpret and assess. We can help!

Firearms are often discovered during a search of your home, vehicle, or other personal privacy, which triggers your constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The law surrounding searches is complex, and takes a passionate and experienced criminal lawyer to present it in a persuasive way to the Judge. Calgary Criminal Lawyers will fearlessly challenge the prosecution using any firearms-related evidence that was obtained was a result of a search or seizure that violated your rights!

The Charges

Discharge a firearm recklessly

This requires the Crown to prove simply that (1) you intentionally shot a firearm into or at a place; (2) you knew or were reckless as to whether there was another person in that place.

This offence is intended to punish those who commit “drive-by” shootings, but much less serious conduct can be caught within its scope.

Sentence

This offence carries a minimum jail term of 4 years, which can be increased to 5 if you used a certain kind of firearm od did the crime on behalf of a criminal gang.

Careless use, storage, or transport of a firearm

If you are found using, handling, storing or shipping a firearm without taking reasonable precautions for the safety of other people, you may be found guilty off this offence, which carries the possibility of up to two years incarceration for a first offence, as well as fines and a prohibition on possessing any firearms for a period of up to ten years. Police often lay this charge after a search of your personal property, which can potentially infringe on your constitutional rights. We would be enthused to review your cases to assess whether any of your rights were breached by the police.

Pointing a firearm

Guns instill such fear in Canadian society that Parliament has made it a crime to point a firearm at another person, regardless of your intent to actually discharge it. Whether or not the gun was loaded is irrelevant when a Court determines your guilt or innocence. Speak to us if you are charged with this offence. We can help explore whether you have a viable defence to this charge.

Sentence

This offence carries a jail sentence of up to 5 years, as well as a 10 year ban on possessing any guns or related items.

Unauthorized possession of a firearm

You may not possess any firearm unless you possess a license obtained by the federal government which permits you to do so. Additional licensing is required in the case of restricted or prohibited weapons. This charge is often the end result of the police searching your car, home, or other property. We will vigorously fight the charge for you if the search was unlawful or violated any of your constitutional rights!

Sentence

The penalty for violating any of the rules authorizing possession of a firearm is jail for a term of up to 5 years, as well as the possibility of a ban on owning any guns for up to 10 years.

Possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition

If:

  • you are caught in possession of:
    • o a loaded restricted or prohibited gun (most commonly, a handgun); or
    • o an unloaded prohibited or restricted gun, but have ammunition for it close by, and
  • you do not have a license for that gun,

You could do a maximum of 10 years in jail. Do not panic if you are charged with this offence. It is possible the police violated your rights to be free from illegal arrests and searches. If a defence exists in your case, Calgary Criminal Lawyers will find it.