All Weapons Offences

Weapons-related offences are also among some of the more serious charges prosecuted in Canada. The specific use of any item, depending on the context, can lead to allegations involving “weapons”.


Facing Weapons Offences in Ontario

All Weapons Offences in Toronto Ontario

If you are charged with a weapons offence, you need to know your rights. Caramanna Friedberg LLP has a successful track record representing clients charged with weapons offences in Ontario.

In Canada, it is illegal to carry a weapon for a dangerous purpose. Simply possessing a weapon in certain circumstances can be a criminal offence as well, such as carrying a concealed weapon in a public place.

The definition of weapon is extremely broad and can include any object that is used to cause injury to a person. A weapon is any object that is used to either threaten or intimidate another individual. Many weapons are designated as restricted or prohibited by law. Being in unauthorized possession of a restricted or a prohibited weapon can significantly increase the possible penalties associated with an offence.

There are many possible ways to defend a weapons offence. Our firm has represented hundreds of clients on weapons related offences. We have had charges dismissed based on some of the following factors:

  • The weapon may have been discovered as a result of an illegal search or detention and could be excluded from evidence at trial;
  • There may be a lawful reason for possessing the object, such as self defence; or
  • An individual may be carrying a "weapon," such as a knife, for a legitimate purpose, like work.

Weapons offences are complex and are often related to other criminal charges. Caramanna Friedberg LLP has the knowledge, expertise and experience to ensure you have outstanding legal representation when facing a possible conviction.

If you or someone you care about is facing a weapons offence, we are here 24/7 for help. Contact us at (416) 924-5969. Caramanna Friedberg LLP will investigate the intricacies of your case and provide every available legal means to protect your rights and freedoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many different weapons offences contained within the Criminal Code. In Canada, it is illegal to carry a weapon for a dangerous purpose. Simply possessing a weapon in certain circumstances can be a criminal offence as well, such as carrying a concealed weapon in a public place.

The definition of weapon is extremely broad and can include any object that is used to cause injury to a person. A weapon is any object that is used to either threaten or intimidate another individual. Many weapons are designated as restricted or prohibited by law. Being in unauthorized possession of a restricted or a prohibited weapon can significantly increase the possible penalties associated with an offence.

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The fact that someone has a criminal record is not an automatic bar to obtaining a firearms licence. However, the existence of a criminal record is something that individual will have to disclose and is a factor taken into consideration when one applies for their Possession and Acquisition (PAL) licence. Applicants can expect more scrutiny from the RCMP and may be asked follow up questions or to provide further information about the offence(s).

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In Canada, you cannot carry a weapon for the purpose of self-defence. If someone uses a gun for the purpose of protecting himself or others and, as a result, is charged with an offence (i.e. aggravated assault or murder) he may raise self-defence so long as the three elements of self-defence can be demonstrated. However, in that scenario, self-defence only applies to the assault or murder offence. The accused would still be guilty of authorized possession of a firearm or possession of a prohibited firearm if he did not have a firearms licence, used a prohibited firearm, or if he was licenced but only allowed to use the firearm for a specific purpose.

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In Canada, there are three classes of firearms:

  • Non-restricted;
  • Restricted; and
  • Prohibited

Non-Restricted Firearms: any rifles or shotguns that are neither prohibited nor restricted.

Restricted Firearms include:

  • Handguns that are not prohibited firearms
  • Firearms that:
    • are not prohibited firearms
    • have a barrel less than 470 mm in length
    • are capable of discharging centre-fire ammunition in a semi-automatic manner
  • Firearms designed or adapted to be fired when reduced to a length of less than 660 mm by folding, telescoping or otherwise
  • Firearms of any other kind prescribed to be restricted firearms in the Regulations

Restricted Firearms can be used for the purposes of target practice or target shooting, as part of a collection, or in connection with one’s lawful occupation (in limited circumstances) or to protect life.

Prohibited Firearms include:

  • Handguns with barrels equal to or less than 105 mm in length
  • Handguns designed or adapted to discharge a 25 or 32 calibre cartridge
    • This does not include handguns for use in international sporting competitions governed by the rules of the International Shooting Union and where the handgun is prescribed to be restricted
  • 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 and has a barrel less than 457 mm in length
  • Automatic firearms, whether or not altered to discharge only one projectile with one pressure of the trigger
  • Firearms prescribed to be prohibited firearms in the Regulations
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There are many possible ways to defend a weapons offence. Our firm has represented hundreds of clients on weapons related offences. We have had charges dismissed based on some of the following factors:

  • The weapon may have been discovered as a result of an illegal search or detention and could be excluded from evidence at trial;
  • There may be a lawful reason for possessing the object, such as self defence; or
  • An individual may be carrying a weapon, such as a knife, for a legitimate purpose, like work.

Assault with a weapon is a criminal offence, where a person carries, uses, or threatens to use either a weapon or an item which imitates a weapon.

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Offences related to the possession of a firearm – such as possession of a firearm for a dangerous purpose, carrying a concealed firearm, or unauthorized possession of a restricted or prohibited firearm carry maximum penalties of 5-10 years imprisonment if the Crown proceeds by indictment.

Assault with a weapon also carries a maximum punishment of 10 years imprisonment, if the Crown proceeds by indictment.

Offences relating to the discharge of a firearm – such as discharging a firearm with intent – carry minimums of 4-7 years (depending on the type of firearm and whether it is a first or subsequent offence), up to a maximum of 14 years imprisonment.

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Those who wish to obtain their firearm licence must pass background checks which assess the applicant’s criminal record, mental health, addiction issues, and any history of domestic violence. The applicant will also need to obtain character references.

Pursuant to the Firearms Act, an individuals is not eligible to hold a firearms licence if it is desirable, in the interests of the safety of that or any other person, that the person not possess a firearm.

In assessing a person’s eligibility, the following factors are considered:

  • Whether the applicant has been convicted or discharged under section 730 of the Criminal Code of an offence:
    • Where violence was used, threatened or attempted;
    • Under the Firearms Act or Part III of the Criminal Code;
    • Under section 264 of the Criminal Code (criminal harassment);
    •  Related to specific offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act;
    • Related to specific offences under the Cannabis Act
  • Whether the applicant has been treated for a mental illness, whether in a hospital, mental institute, psychiatric clinic or otherwise and whether or not the person was confined to such a hospital, institute or clinic, that was associated with violence or threatened or attempted violence on the part of the person against any person;
  • Whether the applicant has a history of behaviour that includes violence or threatened or attempted violence or threatening conduct on the part of the person against any person;
  • Whether the applicant is or was previously prohibited by an order — made in the interests of the safety and security of any person — from communicating with an identified person or from being at a specified place or within a specified distance of that place, and presently poses a threat or risk to the safety and security of any person;
  • Whether the applicant, in respect of an offence in the commission of which violence was used, threatened or attempted against the person’s intimate partner or former intimate partner, was previously prohibited by a prohibition order from possessing any firearm, cross-bow, prohibited weapon, restricted weapon, prohibited device or prohibited ammunition; or
  • Whether the applicant, for any other reason, poses a risk of harm to any person.
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In Canada, you need a valid firearms licence in order to own a gun. If you do not have a proper firearms licence and are found with a firearm on you, you can be charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm, possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm, or careless use of a firearm.

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The Criminal Code of Canada defines weapon as any thing used, designed to be used, intended to be used, or for the purpose of threatening or intimidating any person or causing death or injury to a person. One does not have to use a traditional weapon, such as a knife, to be charged with this offence. For example, a photo frame, if used in the manner described above, would be considered a weapon.

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Assault with a weapon does not have a mandatory minimum sentence. Depending on the facts, the court can impose a lesser sentence, such as probation or even a peace bond. Generally speaking, the more aggravating factors that exist in a case and the greater the harm, the harsher the sentence.

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Assault with a weapon does not have a mandatory minimum sentence. Depending on the facts, the court can impose a lesser sentence, such as probation or even a peace bond. Generally speaking, the more aggravating factors that exist in a case and the greater the harm, the harsher the sentence.

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Firearms can be seized by police when the individual does not have his or her Possession and Acquisition Licence or fails to provide documentation upon request by police. However, even if you are licenced and have registered firearms, the police can obtain a warrant if they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe an offence has been committed with a firearm. If the search warrant is granted, police can lawfully search your residence and seize any and all firearms.

Police can also seize firearms without a warrant where there exigent circumstances such that police are not required to get a warrant before seizing the property.

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