Weapon Possession Lawyer
It is an offence in Canada to possess a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public’s peace or for the purpose of committing a criminal offence.
Daniel Brown and his team of criminal defence lawyers have extensive experience defending weapon possession cases.
To learn more about weapons charges in Toronto, Ontario, please read the following article or contact Daniel Brown Law for a consultation at (416) 297-7200.
Frequently Asked questions about weapons possession charges:
- What is a weapon?
- What is considered a purpose dangerous to the public’s peace?
- What if I am not found with the weapon in a public place?
- What if I was extremely intoxicated at the time I possessed the weapon? Is intoxication a defence to this offence?
- What if I originally possessed the weapon for a lawful purpose but later used it as a weapon? Will I be found guilty of the offence?
- Is it okay for me to possess a weapon for self-defence?
- Can I argue that I was illegally searched by the police?
- What are the types of punishments I can face for possessing a weapon?
There are some items such as “firearms” and a list of other illegal objects including brass knuckles or cross bows that will always meet the definition of a weapon in law. Other items, such as a pocket knife or hunting knife require that the item be, “used, designed to be used or intended for use in causing death or injury to any person or for the purpose of threatening or intimidating any person” to meet the definition of a weapon. The Crown Attorney must prove that the item meets this definition or fall within a list of prohibited weapons in order to establish that the item is a weapon. Read about how Daniel Brown successfully defended his client because the prosecutor failed to prove the item seized by police met the definition of a weapon:
A purpose dangerous to the public’s peace includes a disruption of the “normal state of society” and a disturbance of “the general peace and order of the realm as provided for by law”. It is an, “unquiet and harmful behaviour towards the Queen and her people” according to various legal definitions.
The possession by the accused of weapons in their own home or a private place does not preclude a finding of a purpose dangerous to the public peace. This is so even if there is a use of the weapon giving rise to the charge, which use takes place entirely in private.
What if I was extremely intoxicated at the time I possessed the weapon? Is intoxication a defence to this offence?
The Crown must show that the accused person not only possessed the weapon, but also possessed it with the added purpose of disturbing the peace or committing a crime. If the accused was too intoxicated to form the specific intent required to commit the full offence, he will be found not guilty.
What if I originally possessed the weapon for a lawful purpose but later used it as a weapon? Will I be found guilty of the offence?
A person who uses an item they otherwise lawfully possessed as a weapon may not be found guilty of possession for a dangerous purpose (however they may be found guilty of another offence such as assault with a weapon). Unpremeditated use of a weapon otherwise possessed for a lawful purpose does not necessarily reflect possession for a purpose dangerous to the public peace.
There is no clear answer to this question. Some courts have held that the possession of a weapon solely for self-defence reasons does not trigger the offence of possession for a purpose dangerous to the public. However, this view is not unanimous and many trial judges have come to the exact opposite conclusion. Ultimately, this becomes a very fact specific analysis.
Many cases of possession of weapons are won on the basis that the evidence obtained by the police are excluded from evidence at trial as a result of an illegal search, stop or interrogation by police officers which lead to the discovery of the weapon.
The sentences for possessing a weapon dangerous to the public can range to a maximum 10 years in prison if the Crown proceeds by indictment or a maximum six months in jail if the crown proceeds by summary conviction. Notwithstanding these penalties, the reality is that a first time offender or someone with a minor record may be able to avoid jail or a criminal record altogether with the right representation.
If you or someone you know is charged with possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, you should immediately contact a criminal lawyer to determine your best defence for this type of criminal charge. Daniel Brown can be reached for a consultation at (416) 297-7200.