How Serious Is A Charge For Unlawfully Discharging A Firearm From or Across A Publicly Travelled Roadway?

The Unlawful Discharge of A Firearm In Or Across A Right-of-Way For Public Vehicular Traffic Is A Very Serious Offence Which Upon Conviction Will Soon Lead To Mandatory Suspension of Your Hunting Licence, Completion of Hunter Safety Education As Well As The Suspension of Your Firearms Licence and Possible Seizure of Firearms.

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Understanding Unlawful Discharge of Firearm Offences Per Section 17 of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act

Deer in field.

The Law

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, per section 17, describes the basis for which a person commits the offence uf unlawful possession of a loaded firearm and/or unlawful disharge of a firearm. Specifically, the charging section states:

Loaded firearms in hunting areas

17 (1) A person who is in an area usually inhabited by wildlife or who is on the way to or from an area usually inhabited by wildlife shall not,

(a) have a loaded firearm in or on a conveyance or discharge a firearm from a conveyance, except if,

(i) the conveyance is a boat that is not a motorboat, or

(ii) the conveyance is a motorboat and the person is hunting migratory birds in accordance with the regulations under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (Canada);

(b), (c) Repealed: 2009, c. 33, Sched. 22, s. 2 (10).

(d) in a part of Ontario prescribed by the regulations, have a loaded firearm in, or discharge a firearm in or across, a right of way for public vehicular traffic; or

(e) in a part of Ontario to which clause (d) does not apply, discharge a firearm in or across the travelled portion of a right of way for public vehicular traffic. 1997, c. 41, s. 17 (1); 2009, c. 33, Sched. 22, s. 2 (10).

Unmaintained rights of way

(2) Clauses (1) (d) and (e) do not apply to an unmaintained right of way unless the regulations provide otherwise. 1997, c. 41, s. 17 (2).

Person with impaired mobility

(3) Despite clause (1) (a), a person whose mobility is impaired in the manner prescribed by the regulations may have a loaded firearm in or on, or discharge it from, a vehicle or a motorboat that is not in motion, in an area described in subsection (1), if the person does so,

(a) in accordance with the authorization of the Minister; or

(b) in the circumstances prescribed by the regulations. 2012, c. 8, Sched. 16, s. 3; 2017, c. 2, Sched. 14, s. 7.

As shown, section 17(1) addresses the usage of loaded firearms in hunting areas,including from within conveyances such as a truck or boat, and the unlawful discharge of a firearm in or across a puclic right-of-way for vehiclular traffic, while section 17(2) provides an exception for discharge of a firearm in or across uan unmaintained right-of-way and section 17(3)  provides an exception for persons with mobility issues and allows for such persons to possess a loaded firearm within a conveyance and to discharge such firearm from within a conveyance so long as the conveyance is not in motion. Offences contrary to this section are treated very seriously due to the inherent safety concerns associated with the unlawful discharge of a firearm. Monetary penalties for these tyes of offences oftern range from $7,000 to $10,000 within most jurisdictions

Possible Penalties

As above, the possible penalties, as potential punishments, imposed upon conviction for an unlawful discharge of a firearm in or across a right-of-way for public vehiular traffic or unlawful discharge of a firearm from a motor vehicle are determined on a case by case basis by the Crown and the Court. The  maximum penatly applicable for an offence committed under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act may be found at section 102.  Specifically, the penalty section states:

Penalty

102 (1) A person convicted of an offence under this Act is liable to a fine of not more than $25,000, to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or to both

Careless use of firearm

(2) Despite subsection (1), a person convicted of an offence under section 16 is liable to a fine of not more than $25,000, to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or to both.

Commercial offences

(3) Despite subsections (1) and (2), a person convicted of an offence under this Act is liable to a fine of not more than $100,000, to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or to both, if,

(a) the offence was committed under section 11, 48 or 51 or subsection 55 (3) or 58 (2); or

(b) the offence was committed for commercial purposes. 1997, c. 41, s. 102.

Summary Comment

If you have been charged with Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm, or related Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act offence, then you need effective legal advocacy.  DefendCharges.ca will help you to review your various options and determine a prudent defence strategy.


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