The Police Seized my Firearms: Now What?
Unlike our neighbors to the south, owning firearms in Canada is a privilege and not a right. When we talk about ‘firearms’ in this context, we are talking about more than just guns; firearms, for our purposes, includes all firearms (i.e. rifles, handguns, air soft guns, etc.), ammunition, cannons, imitation guns and crossbows.
If you are involved in an incident where the police get involved, your firearms may be seized. This may occur either with or without a warrant and, where a warrant is involved, the warrant may or may not specify that firearms are one of the items to be searched for.
The power of police officers to search and seize your firearms is, like all other search powers, authorized by the Criminal Code (and, to some extent, the common law) under the guidance of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 8 of the Charter provides that, “Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.”
The laws surrounding the search and seizure of one’s home and person are extraordinarily complex. Therefore, if you have been the subject of a search, whether it’s your body, your vehicle, or your home, it’s important to contact a knowledgeable criminal lawyer to ensure that your rights have not been breached.
If firearms your firearms are seized, you may have a limited period of time to act. If criminal charges have been laid, it is unlikely that the state will seek forfeiture of your firearms until there has been a determination as to your guilt or innocence on those charges. However, if criminal charges have been laid, it is important to contact a criminal lawyer as soon as possible as most firearms charges are punished by a period of imprisonment.
If no criminal charges have been laid, however, while you may not be facing jail, you will likely have significantly less time to act as an application to dispose of seized firearms must be made within 30 days of their seizure. To be successful in an application to dispose of your firearms, the Crown need only show that it is “not desirable in the interests of safety for the firearms to be returned.” This is an extremely low bar. Therefore, you will want to ensure you have a skilled lawyer who knows how to fight these applications in order to be successful.
Regardless of why or how your firearms have been seized, it is important to note that any authorization relating to the firearms (like a PAL or RPAL) is also deemed to be revoked even if it has not been seized. 1
If your firearms have been seized and/or an application has been made against you to have your firearms forfeited and disposed of, contact us now at 1-833-784-7500 for a free 30-minute consultation to learn how you can get your firearms back.
1 Ibid, s. 117.04(4)
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