In Canada, firearms are heavily regulated and offences are strictly enforced. Offences involving firearms have more severe sentencing. Even improper storage of a firearm can lead to jail time. Firearm sentences can be lengthy in Ontario.
If you are facing firearms offences in Toronto, you should hire a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible.
Mandatory Minimums – Firearm Sentences
According to the DOJ, notwithstanding recent changes, more than half the mandatory sentencing in Canada involve firearms offences. Mandatory minimums refer to a minimum sentence that must be dealt out for specific crimes.
For instance, a conviction for possessing an unlicensed prohibited or restricted firearm with ammo is 3 years in prison. Back in 2008, the minimum was 1 year.
These mandatory minimums are intended to decrease weapons offences and minimize. However, the results have been mixed and the nature of these rulings fall outside the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
Mandatory minimums don’t allow for context, so defendants do not have the right to proportional sentencing. It removes an appropriate range of sentencing options that might better fit the context of the charges.
The Importance of Criminal Lawyers in Defending Firearms Charges
A defence lawyer is important for any criminal charge. In addition to defending you in court, they offer valuable counsel and negotiate for you in Crown pre-trial meetings. But in firearms offences, they are especially important because of mandatory sentencing.
In firearms offences, defence lawyers are challenging mandatory minimums with success. In many instances, the disproportionate mandatory sentence is unconstitutional, and rulings are reflecting this. There is now a precedent for Judges to give sentences that are proportionate to the context of the crime – even it falls below the minimum.
Your criminal defence lawyer can help you decide if this is an option to pursue.
Possible Defences in Firearms Charges
Charges involving firearms and weapons offences are treated severely. And the use of a firearm in the commission of an offence, such as armed robbery, adds a second offence with the sentence served consecutively. The best criminal defence lawyers have experience in several defences to help their client get the best possible outcome.
Improper Police Procedure
Some of the most common defences in firearms offences involve improper police procedure. If the police fail to go about the proper routes to discover firearms, the evidence may not be admissible.
Evidence obtained in violation of Charter rights is one example of this. There are very few instances where police can seize evidence without a warrant. If your lawyer has reason to believe the evidence was obtained in a way that violates your rights, they may challenge it.
Even if the police had a warrant, a criminal lawyer may use a Garofoli application. This application challenges the process and reasoning behind receiving the warrant. If successful, the evidence is inadmissible in Court.
Invalid reason for search is another defence involving improper police procedure. The reason for conducting the search must satisfy a valid reason.
Use of Firearm in the Commission of an Offence
In the defence of charges with the addition of using a firearm in the commission of the offence, there needs to be proof that the firearm was used. For example, in an armed robbery, the defence lawyer attempts to show a lack of evidence that:
- That the robbery occurred.
- The robbery occurred in the presence of the victim.
- That the robbery occurred through the use or threat of violence.
- The robbery occurred while armed with a deadly weapon.
Hire a Toronto Criminal Defence Lawyer
If you or a loved one are facing charges for a firearms offence, your first step should be to hire a Toronto criminal defence lawyer. Your lawyer will provide counsel and guide you through the process. William Jaksa has over a decade of experience in criminal law and will help you understand your options and possible outcomes.
Contact us today for a consultation.