Firearms Offence Lawyers in Calgary

In Canada, firearm charges are detailed in the Canadian Criminal Code and the Firearms Act. Firearm charges can be either summary or indictable offences with penalties which can range from fines to imprisonment, with maximum sentences up to 14 years depending on the offence.

Key sections of the Criminal Code include s. 91, s. 92, s. 95, s. 86, s. 87, s. 85, and s. 88. These sections addressing unauthorized possession, use, and dangerous purposes reflect Canada’s stringent firearm regulations. There are a variety of firearm related offences, including but not limited to:

  • Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm (Section 91) is a hybrid offence, with penalties of up to 1 year for summary convictions or up to 5 years for indictable convictions.
  • Possession of a Firearm Knowing its Possession is Unauthorized (Section 92) is also a hybrid offence, carrying up to 1 year for summary conviction or up to 10 years for indictable conviction.
  • Possession of a Prohibited or Restricted Firearm with Ammunition (Section 95) is an indictable offence, with a minimum of 3 years and up to 10 years for the first offence, and a minimum of 5 years for subsequent offences.
  • Careless Use of a Firearm (Section 86) is a hybrid offence, with a maximum of 2 years less a day for summary conviction or up to 2 years for indictable conviction.
  • Pointing a Firearm (Section 87) is a hybrid offence, punishable by up to 2 years less a day for summary conviction or up to 5 years for indictable conviction.
  • Using a Firearm in the Commission of an Offence (Section 85) is an indictable offence, with a minimum of 1 year and up to 14 years for the first offence, and a minimum of 3 years for subsequent offences.
  • Possession of a Weapon for a Dangerous Purpose (Section 88) is a hybrid offence, with penalties of up to 2 years less a day for summary conviction or up to 10 years for indictable conviction.
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Key Takeaways

  • Severity of Charges: Firearm offences can lead to summary (less severe) penalties or indictable (more severe) penalties.
  • Jail Sentences: Penalties range from fines to imprisonment, with maximum sentences up to 14 years.
  • Key Offences: Unauthorized possession (Sections 91, 92), careless use (Section 86), and using a firearm in an offence (Section 85).
  • Bail Conditions: Often include strict monitoring, curfews, and restrictions on firearm possession.
  • Legal Representation: Essential for contesting charges, potentially leading to reduced sentences or acquittals. Effective legal defence can challenge evidence, question procedural errors, and negotiate plea deals.

How can a firearm lawyer in Calgary help?

Hiring a criminal defence lawyer for a gun offence offers numerous benefits that can significantly impact the outcome of your case. One of the primary advantages is receiving precharge legal advice, as early intervention is crucial in safeguarding your rights from the outset. A firearms lawyer is essential in navigating conversations with law enforcement to offer protection from potential self-incrimination.

A criminal defence lawyer offers a skilled approach to gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses to strengthen your case. Retaining expert witnesses is another critical service provided by a defence lawyer. These experts can offer testimony that challenges the prosecution’s evidence, adding credibility to your defence. Navigating the criminal justice system and court processes can be daunting, but a skilled lawyer will guide you through each step, ensuring that all legal requirements are met and strategically planning your defence.

Finally, representation during trial is perhaps the most crucial benefit. A gun lawyer will advocate on your behalf, aiming for the best possible outcome, whether it’s a reduced sentence, acquittal, or dismissal of charges.


Firearms Charges in the Criminal Code of Canada

The Criminal Code of Canada outlines various firearm-related offences, each with specific sections detailing the nature of the crime and associated penalties.

Careless use of firearm, etc.

(1) Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, uses, carries, handles, ships, transports or stores a firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition in a careless manner or without reasonable precautions for the safety of other persons.

Contravention of storage regulations, etc.

(2) Every person commits an offence who contravenes a regulation made under paragraph 117(h) of the Firearms Act respecting the storage, handling, transportation, shipping, display, advertising and mail-order sales of firearms and restricted weapons.

Pointing a firearm

(1) Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, points a firearm at another person, whether the firearm is loaded or unloaded.

Examples of Firearm Charges 

Some examples firearm charges may include the following:

  • Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm (Section 91): Possessing a firearm without proper authorization.
  • Possession of a Firearm Knowing its Possession is Unauthorized (Section 92): Knowing possession of an unauthorized firearm.
  • Possession of a Prohibited or Restricted Firearm with Ammunition (Section 95): Having a prohibited or restricted firearm along with ammunition.
  • Careless Use of a Firearm (Section 86): Using, handling, or storing a firearm in a careless manner.
  • Using a Firearm in the Commission of an Offence (Section 85): Employing a firearm while committing another crime.

Consequences of a Firearms Charge

In Canada, the consequences of a firearms charge can be severe, impacting various aspects of an individual’s life.

Firearms offences can be classified as summary, indictable, or hybrid offences, each carrying different penalties. Summary offences are less severe and typically result in lighter penalties.

For example, unauthorized possession of a firearm under Section 91 can be prosecuted as a summary offence, leading to a maximum jail sentence of up to 1 year and potential fines. However, indictable offences are more serious and carry heavier penalties. For instance, possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition under Section 95 is an indictable offence. The minimum jail sentence for a first offence is 3 years, with a maximum of up to 10 years. Subsequent offences carry a minimum sentence of 5 years.

Hybrid offences can be prosecuted as either summary or indictable offences, depending on the circumstances and the Crown’s discretion. An example is the careless use of a firearm under Section 86. If prosecuted summarily, the maximum penalty is 2 years less a day in jail. If prosecuted as an indictable offence, the maximum penalty is up to 2 years in prison.

Fines for firearms offences can vary, with no specific statutory minimums or maximums in many cases. However, the financial burden, along with potential imprisonment, underscores the seriousness of these charges. Convictions can also lead to a criminal record, affecting future employment, travel, and personal reputation. Legal representation is crucial to navigate these complex legal waters and mitigate the consequences.


Firearm Charge Defences

Defending against firearms charges in Canada requires a nuanced understanding of the law and strategic legal approaches. This section explores various defences available, such as challenging the legality of the search and seizure, questioning the evidence’s integrity, and asserting lawful possession, to help mitigate or dismiss charges.

  • Unlawful Search and Seizure: One common defence against firearms charges in Canada is challenging the legality of the search and seizure. Under Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, individuals have the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure. If law enforcement obtained the firearm through an unlawful search (such as without a valid warrant or probable cause) the evidence may be deemed inadmissible in court. This could lead to the charges being reduced or even dismissed. A skilled defence lawyer will scrutinize the circumstances surrounding the search to ensure that your Charter rights were not violated, providing a strong basis for your defence.
  • Lack of Knowledge or Intent: Another viable defence is arguing a lack of knowledge or intent. For certain firearms offences, the prosecution must prove that the accused knowingly possessed the firearm or had the intent to use it unlawfully. If you can demonstrate that you were unaware of the firearm’s presence or that you had no intention of using it for an illegal purpose, this defence can be effective.
  • Lawful Possession: Claiming lawful possession is another common defence. In some cases, individuals may have a valid licence or authorization to possess the firearm in question. If you can provide evidence that you were legally permitted to possess the firearm, this defence can be compelling. This may involve presenting documentation such as a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) or other relevant permits. A defence lawyer will help gather and present this evidence to demonstrate that your possession was lawful.
  • Mistaken Identity: If the prosecution’s case relies heavily on eyewitness testimony or circumstantial evidence, there may be room to argue that you were wrongly identified as the perpetrator. This defence often involves scrutinizing the reliability of witness statements, alibis, and any available surveillance footage. By casting doubt on the accuracy of the identification, your lawyer can weaken the prosecution’s case.

Firearms Charge Investigation

The investigation process for firearms charges in Canada involves multiple. Initially, law enforcement agencies, such as local police or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), receive information or a complaint about potential firearms-related offences. Upon receiving information, officers may conduct surveillance to gather more evidence.

They may also seek search warrants from a judge or justice of the peace, allowing them to search premises, vehicles, or individuals suspected of being involved in firearms offences. During these searches, officers look for firearms, ammunition, and related paraphernalia.

Forensic analysis plays a crucial role in firearm investigation. Firearms and ammunition are examined to determine their legality, origin, and any connections to other crimes.

Interviews and interrogations are also conducted with suspects and witnesses to gather statements and corroborate evidence. Once sufficient evidence is gathered, charges are laid, and the case proceeds to the judicial system, where the accused will face trial.



Bail Conditions for Firearms Charges

Bail conditions for firearms charges in Canada are typically strict. Conditions may include a curfew, regular check-ins with a bail supervisor, and restrictions on travel and communication with certain individuals.

The accused may also be prohibited from possessing firearms and other weapons. Additional measures can include electronic monitoring and mandatory attendance at counselling or rehabilitation programs. Compliance with these conditions is crucial, as any breach can result in immediate arrest and revocation of bail.

Frequently Asked Questions About Firearms

Will a firearms conviction show on my criminal record?

Yes, a firearms conviction will show on your criminal record in Canada. Once you are convicted of a firearms offence, it is documented in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database, which is accessible by law enforcement agencies across the country.

It is crucial to seek legal representation if you are facing firearms charges to explore all possible defences and mitigate the impact on your record. In some cases, a pardon or record suspension may be available after a certain period, helping to clear your record.

How long does a firearms case take?

The duration of a firearms case in Canada can vary widely depending on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the nature of the charges, and the efficiency of the legal process.

Factors such as the need for extensive evidence gathering, expert witness testimonies, and the scheduling of court dates can all contribute to delays. It’s important to consult with a knowledgeable criminal defence lawyer to get a more accurate timeline based on the specifics of your case. 

Can I travel while a firearm case is ongoing?

This largely depends on the specific bail conditions set by the court. Typically, individuals facing firearms charges are subject to stringent bail conditions, which often include travel restrictions. If travel is necessary, you may request a modification of your bail conditions through your lawyer, who can present your case to the court.

Can I go to jail for a firearms charge?

Yes, you can go to jail for a firearms charge in Canada. The severity of the penalty depends on the specific offence and whether it is prosecuted as a summary, indictable, or hybrid offence. For example, possessing a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition can result in a minimum jail sentence of 3 years for a first offence, with potential for up to 10 years. Even less severe charges, such as unauthorized possession of a firearm, can lead to imprisonment if convicted. 

Will I lose my firearms license?

Yes, if you are convicted of a firearms offence in Canada, you are likely to lose your firearms license. The court has the authority to revoke your Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) as part of the sentencing process. Even if you are not convicted, being charged with a firearms offence can result in the temporary suspension of your license pending the outcome of your case.

Additionally, certain convictions may result in a prohibition order, which can bar you from possessing firearms for a specified period or even for life, depending on the severity of the offence. It’s essential to consult with a criminal defence lawyer to understand the implications of your charges and to explore options for retaining your firearms license.

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