I’ve been charged with Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm. What do I need to know?

4. Figure out if you have a defence

You can defend yourself in a criminal by showing:

  • the Crown has not proven all of the elements of the crime
  • your situation fits into a legal defence in the Criminal Code
  • your Charter rights were violated

For a of Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm, you may also have a defence if:

  • You don't have a licence or registration certificate, but you are being directly supervised by the person who does have the licence and registration certificate.
     
  • The item is not actually a gun, weapon, or ammunition that you need a licence or registration for. For example, you don't need a licence for some antique guns that do not work. But you do need a licence for many high-powered air guns. For more information visit the Canadian Firearms Program.

Think about what you can use to present your defence. Evidence might include:

  • documents, such as your gun licence or registration
  • photos or videos
  • witnesses who know about your licence or registration
  • telling your version of the story in court

Charter violations

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms says that you have certain rights when you're dealing with government. The government includes the police, the Crown, and the courts. For example, the police must:

  • not search you in an unreasonable way
  • not use excessive force against you
  • not or you without a good reason
  • help you contact a lawyer if want one
  • explain why you're detained or arrested

If any of your Charter rights are violated, the judge can throw out certain evidence in your case. In some situations, the judge may even dismiss your charges completely, for example, if it takes too long to give you a trial.

It can be legally complicated to discover Charter violations and know how to present them in court. It's best to talk to a lawyer before your trial to find out if there are Charter issues and how to deal with them.

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