While there are many criminal offences under the Criminal Code of Canada that address when a weapon is used during the course of the offence (i.e. assault with a weapon) there are also criminal offences that deal strictly with a weapon itself. Specifically, sections 88-90 deal with possessing and carrying a weapon.
Possession Of Weapon For Dangerous Purpose – Section 88
Possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose requires that that the Crown Attorney prove beyond a reasonable doubt all the following;
- That you carried or were in possession of a weapon, imitation of a weapon, a prohibited device or ammunition, and
- That the purpose was either dangerous to the public peace or to commit an offence.
As you will see below the definition of a weapon is a very broad definition. Similarly, the definition of possession under section 4(3) of the Criminal Code is also very broad. Therefore, the primary issue for the Crown Attorney when attempting to prove this charge is whether the purpose of you having the weapon was dangerous to the public peace or to commit an offence.
The purpose for which you were in possession of a weapon is not always easy for the Crown Attorney to prove, and often there are defences available. For example, the fact that you are in possession of a weapon that is dangerous to the public does not prove you are guilty of the offence. The Crown Attorney must still prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the purpose for which you were in possession of the weapon was dangerous to the public.
Similarly, even if you actually use a weapon that is dangerous to the public, this does not prove you are guilty of the offence. Again, the Crown Attorney must prove that the purpose for which you actually used the weapon was dangerous to the public. It may be that you used a weapon which is dangerous to the public, but the purpose for which you used it was to defend yourself from an attacker.
Carrying Concealed Weapon – Section 90
To be found guilty of carrying a concealed weapon, the Crown Attorney must prove both that you were carrying the weapon and that you concealed the weapon. Again, because the definitions of “weapon” and “carry” can be interpreted broadly, the main issue will be whether you concealed the weapon. The weapon itself does not have to be on you at all times. For example, you can be found guilty of carrying a concealed weapon where the weapon is concealed in your motor vehicle which you are in control of.
In order to prove that you concealed a weapon, the Crown Attorney must prove that you took steps to hide the weapon so that it would not be visible to other individuals around you. There are exceptions where you are permitted to be carrying a concealed weapon. For example, if you are carrying a firearm in accordance with the Firearms Act and its regulations, you cannot be convicted of carrying a concealed weapon.
Carrying Weapon While Attending Public Meeting – Section 89
There are 2 elements about this offence that are different from both possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and carrying a concealed weapon. First, the offence of carrying a weapon while attending a public meeting requires that you were either at a public meeting or you were on your way to a public meeting. Second, this offence does not require that the Crown Attorney prove that you intended to use the weapon in a way that was dangerous to the public, or that you even intended to use the weapon at all. The Crown Attorney also does not need to prove that you intentionally tried to conceal the weapon.
What is a Weapon?
A weapon is defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code as;
“weapon” means any thing used, designed to be used or intended for use
(a) in causing death or injury to any person, or
(b) for the purpose of threatening or intimidating any person
and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, includes a firearm.
A weapon can be something as obvious as a firearm, a knife, a Taser, brass knuckles or a crossbow. A weapon can also include objects such as a broken beer bottle, any type of chemical used to injure another person.
Possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose is a hybrid offence, and thus the potential penalty will differ depending on whether the Crown Attorney proceeds by indictment or summary conviction. Where the Crown Attorney elects to proceed by indictment, the maximum penalty for possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose 10 years in jail, while the maximum penalty on summary conviction is 6 months in jail.
Carrying a concealed weapon is also a hybrid offence which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in jail as an indictable offence and a maximum of 6 months in jail on a summary conviction. Carrying a weapon while attending a public meeting is a summary offence which carries a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail on conviction.
Each of these offences can also include a prohibition order preventing you possessing a firearm, restricted weapon, prohibited weapon, ammunition, etc.
A conviction for a weapons offence can have a significant impact on your future. A criminal record for a weapons offence can prevent you from obtaining employment, and will prevent you from travelling to the United States.
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