Any conviction for a weapons offence can carry severe consequences. The majority of weapons offences come with mandatory minimum jail sentences. Also, individuals who are convicted of weapons offences may obtain a permanent criminal record, which can make it more difficult to obtain employment, seek an education, or travel to other countries.
Weapons offence cases are often technical, and usually require legal analysis by a criminal defence lawyer. Individuals who are accused must take the charges seriously, as weapons offences in Canada come with severe penalties.
It’s important to establish a strong defence to protect your liberty and your legal rights. The following are some basic facts regarding penalties and sentencing for weapons offences under Canadian law.
Being found guilty for the first time of a “non-severe” firearm offence will often mean the following:
- A $5,000 fine
- Six months to five years in prison
Being found guilty for the first time of a “severe” firearm offence will often mean the following:
- A $5,000 fine
- A minimum term of imprisonment of six months to 2-3 years (10 years maximum)
Weapons Offences Identified Under Canada’s Criminal Code
- Use Offences
- Possession Offences
- Trafficking Offences
- Weapon Assembly Offences
- Import or Export of Weapons Offences
- Lost, Damaged, or Destroyed Weapons Offences
The following are use offences under s. 85-87:
- Pointing a firearm
- Careless use of a firearm, and contravention of storage regulations
- Using a firearm (or imitation firearm) while committing an indictable offence
An individual may be convicted of “using a firearm” even if they did not intend to cause harm to another person. Careless storage or use of a firearm includes ammunition, and a firearm does not have to be loaded to result in one of these offences.
The sentencing for use offences can range anywhere from two years for “careless use of a firearm”, to “using a firearm”, which can be punished by one to fourteen years in prison for a first offence if it is tried as an indictable offence.
The following are possession offences under s. 88-98:
- Robbery to steal a firearm
- Breaking and entering to steal a firearm
- Possession of a weapon that was obtained by committing an offence
- Possession of a restricted or prohibited firearm with ammunition
- Unauthorized possession in a motor vehicle
- Possession in an unauthorized place
- Possession (knowingly) of an unauthorized firearm, weapon, or ammunition
- Unauthorized possession of a prohibited or restricted weapon
- Unauthorized possession of a firearm
- Carrying a concealed weapon
- Carrying a weapon while attending a public meeting
- Possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes
The sentencing terms for any of the offences listed above may be as follows:
- Maximum life imprisonment for breaking and entering or robbery to steal a firearm
- Maximum ten years for unauthorized possession in a motor vehicle, when tried as an indictable offence
- Maximum five years in prison for carrying a concealed weapon when tried as an indictable offence
For possession charges, the Crown may decide to try the case as a summary conviction, and this means the maximum sentencing would be up to six months in prison for “use” offences, and up to six months to one year for less serious possession offences. Breaking and entering, or robbery to steal firearms offences, are only tried as indictable offences.
The following are trafficking offences under s. 99-101:
- Transferring to another individual without the authority to do so
- Possession for the purpose of weapons trafficking
- Weapons trafficking
Weapons trafficking offences have sentences of three years to ten years in prison if the suspect is convicted. A transfer without authority carries a maximum sentence of five (5) years if the offence is tried as an indictable offence.
The following are assembling offences under s. 102:
- Making an automatic firearm
An individual who is convicted of altering a firearm to make an automatic weapon may face a sentence of one year to ten years imprisonment, depending on how the Crown tries the case.
The following are import/export offences under s. 103-104:
- Unauthorized exporting or importing
- Exporting or importing knowing it is unauthorized
The sentencing for exporting or importing a firearm is greater if the accused knew they were performing an illegal act. The accused may face a three-year to ten-year term of imprisonment for a first offence.
Lost, Damaged, or Destroyed Weapons Offences
The following are lost, damaged, or destroyed weapons offences under s. 105-108:
- Tampering with a serial number
- False statements to an officer
- Destroying a firearm
- Losing or finding a firearm (and failing to report it to an officer)
The offences listed above can be tried as summary offences or as indictable offences. Summary offences have lower maximum sentences, and indictable offences have a maximum sentence of five (5) years for a first offence.
Rules for the Possession of Firearms for Non-Residents Aged 18 and Older
Non-residents can have authorized possession of firearms in Canada, but non-residents must make a non-resident firearms declaration. After the declaration is confirmed by a customs officer, a temporary license is issued that is valid for up to 60 days. Also, non-resident applicants who have passed the Canadian Firearms Safety Course qualify for PAL application.
Contact Vilkhov Law
Reach out to our team at Vilkhov Law for a consultation if you have been accused of a weapons offence that you did not commit. We can help you defend yourself against erroneous weapons charges and protect your ability to work and live where you please in the future. Working with a skilled weapons offence lawyer is essential to the outcome of your case.
Work with Vilkhov Law for access to a skilled legal team that knows its way around weapons offence cases. These types of cases involve a complex legal process, and must be handled with care from start to finish for the best result.
Contact us today at 866-707-5845 for a consultation to get access to the support you need related to your case.