What is a weapons offence?


There are a number of offences in the Criminal Code relating to “weapons.” These include the possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, the carrying of a concealed weapon, weapons trafficking, possession of a weapon contrary to a court order, and assault with a weapon. 

WHAT IS A “WEAPON”?

The Criminal Code broadly defines a “weapon” as any thing 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. Broadly, a weapon includes:

  1. Anything designed to be used as a weapon.
  2. Anything that a person uses as a weapon, whether that thing is designed as a weapon or not.
  3. Anything that one intends to use as a weapon regardless of its design.

For example, a golf club is not considered a weapon when it is engaged properly in sport, however it can be considered a weapon if it is used to threaten someone. Weapons do not need to be restricted to inanimate objects – a dog trained to attack has been found to be a weapon.

Some weapons are clearly defined in the Criminal Code, like tasers, switchblades and brass knuckles. The Criminal Code distinguishes “prohibited weapons” and “restricted weapons” as subclasses of weapons generally. Additional weapons-related offences apply to those weapons classified as “prohibited” or “restricted.”  Others have been established from past cases, such as the inappropriate use of bear spray and even using vehicles as a weapon.

HOW TO PROVE SOMETHING IS A WEAPON?

In the past there have been criminal cases where a jar of peanut butter and even a sewing machine were found to be weapons. While it is common sense that no one would consider these types of things to be dangerous, they were proven to be weapon in court cases because of the specific facts of those cases.

HOW ARE TOY, IMITATION, AND REPLICA WEAPONS CLASSIFIED?

Again, the classification of an item as a weapon is a context specific analysis. Displaying a replica weapon on your wall is likely fine. However, using the same toy weapon to threaten someone, and in the process making those around you believe it to be an authentic version of the weapon, will change the weapon’s classification.

DEFENCES TO WEAPONS CHARGES

Depending on the context and the charge a number of defences may be available to you. For example, the crown may not be able to prove the weapon was prohibited, or they may not be able to prove that you had possession of the weapon.

In many cases I have been successful in negotiating with the crown to have weapons charges completely withdrawn. I have also been successful in having weapons offences referred to Alternative Measures.

Contact me and I will advise you as to the path forward and what steps you can take to help you avoid a criminal conviction.

Because of the nature, complexity, and possible penalties of weapons offences, it is important to contact a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. I have years of experience in these types of offences, both as a former crown prosecutor, and as a criminal defence lawyer.