Carrying A Loaded Fiream Lawyer in Oakville

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Carrying a Loaded Firearm

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Under the Criminal code of Canada, it is a crime for you to carry a loaded firearm on your person or in a vehicle in any public place or on a public street. A public place is anywhere that is readily accessible to the public. This includes parks, sidewalks, public streets, or any area in which it is unlawful to possess a loaded firearm.

If you’ve been charged with carrying a loaded firearm in public, you should retain the services of a skilled weapons defense attorney as soon as possible. The penalties for breaking firearms regulations are harsh, and the sooner your lawyer can begin working on your case, the better chance you’ll have of avoiding a conviction.

What are weapons offenses?

Weapons offenses are violations of statutes or regulations that control deadly weapons. Deadly weapons include firearms and their ammunition, silencers, explosives, and certain knives. About 2% of arrests nationwide in 1993 were for weapons offenses.

All States, some localities, and the Federal Government have criminal laws concerning deadly weapons,including restrictions on their  possession:

  • Carrying
  • Use
  • Sales or trafficking
  • Manufacturing
  • Importing and exporting.

After acquiring your firearm, you must handle the weapon safely every time and anywhere, even when it’s not in use. Whether in your house or your car, you must store your unloaded gun safely in a locked container. Carrying a loaded firearm in a public area is considered a gun offense in Canada apart from a few exempted people, such as police officers and other law enforcement officials.

What does it mean to conceal a weapon?

 A weapon, particularly a handgun, which is kept hidden on one’s person, or under one’s control (in a glove compartment or under a car seat). Carrying a concealed weapon is a crime unless the party with the weapon is a law enforcement officer or has a permit to carry a concealed weapon (usually issued by local law enforcement under guidelines of need such as being a carrier of large amounts of cash in business and having a record free of convictions, arrests or improper activity).

Concealment means that a person would ordinarily not be able to view the weapon if that person met you on the street, or in the ordinary course of an interaction. Having a weapon that is only partially concealed, or one that is concealed from only a particular angle, is usually not enough to be convicted of carrying a concealed weapon, though province laws do differ on this point.

Penalties for carrying a loaded firearm

In Canada, the unregistered use, possession and trafficking of weapon(s) is a criminal offence carrying serious penalties. Anyone, 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” is deemed a criminal under the Canadian Criminal Code [86 (1)]. It’s illegal to possess a weapon for endangering the public safety or for the purpose of harming someone.

Gun crimes carry different penalties depending on the nature of the crime. Non-severe penalties for firearm offences include:

  • Careless storage or handling the maximum penalty is between six months plus a $5,000 fine to two years, depending on whether or not it is a summary or indictable offence. The maximum penalty for subsequent offences is 5 years.
  • Pointing a firearm at another person carries a maximum sentence of six months plus a $5,000 fine to five years in prison.
  • Carrying a concealed weapon a maximum sentence of six months plus a $5,000 fine to five years in prison.

Although judges are under an obligation to decide on sentencing for various offences based on the guidelines defined in the Criminal Code, these sentencing guidelines are sometimes challenged in Canada’s higher court. In the 2015 trial, R. v. Nur, to decide possession of firearms charges in violation of s. 95.1 of the Code, the Supreme Court of Canada, on appeal, held that the mandatory minimum sentences imposed in section 95(2) violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, s. 12 and are therefore null and void. Specifically, the judges’ findings were that the mandatory minimum sentences of 3 to 5 years, particularly for first time offenders, may constitute cruel and unusual punishment by invoking a grossly disproportionate sentence in some cases.

Defences for Possession Offences

There are defences to possession charges that are written into the Criminal Code. For example s. 91 defines the requirements for the unauthorized possession of a firearm offence with a potential defence built into the language of the section: being under the direct and immediate supervision of a person who may lawfully possess it.

In addition to these specific defences for weapons offences, your criminal lawyer may be able to raise other defences to undermine the required elements of the offence. Or, your lawyer may bring a motion for the evidence to be excluded where it was obtained in a manner inconsistent with your rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Carrying a loaded firearm, whether it’s functional or not, could cost you your freedom and also make you incur unnecessary losses due to the hefty fines the judge imposes for the crime. If you or someone you know is charged with a firearms related offence, it is imperative that you contact an experienced firearms lawyer to handle the charges.

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