I’ve been charged with Careless Use or Storage 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 Careless Use or Storage of a Firearm, you may also have a defence if:

  • You took the normal precautions that a reasonable person would take, but something still went wrong. For example, you properly engaged the safety switch on your gun, but there was a manufacturer defect that caused the safety switch not to work.
     
  • Someone else took control of the gun, weapon, or ammunition without your permission.
     
  • You honestly believed something, but it turns out you were wrong. For example, you honestly believed the cabinet where you stored your gun was locked, but it turns out the lock was broken.
     
  • The item is not actually a gun, weapon, or ammunition that you need to store in a particular way. For example, you can openly display some antique guns that do not work. For more information visit the Canadian Firearms Program.

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

  • photos or videos
  • witnesses who saw the incident or who know about the firearm and its storage
  • 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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