Criminal defence lawyers often encounter questions about the legality of weapons other than firearms, such as pepper spray, nunchuks, and knives.
Part III of the Criminal Code deals with “prohibited weapons”. There are three ways that a weapon can be prohibited. The first is by an explicit prohibition in the Criminal Code.
The second is based on the intention of the person carrying the “weapon”. The third is based on the context in which the person carries the weapon.
Under section 91(3) of the Code, it is a criminal offence to be in possession of a “prohibited weapon”.
Prohibited weapons are listed in s. 84(1) and its associated regulations. A long list of weapons are prohibited under this section, including:
Under section 91(3) of the Code, it is a criminal offence to be in possession of a “prohibited weapon”. Prohibited weapons are listed in s. 84(1) and its associated regulations. A long list of weapons are prohibited under this section, including:
1. Any device designed to be used for the purpose of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person by the discharge therefrom of (a) tear gas, Mace or other gas, or
(b) any liquid, spray, powder or other substance that is capable of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person.
2. Any instrument or device commonly known as “nunchaku”, being hard non-flexible sticks, clubs, pipes, or rods linked by a length or lengths of rope, cord, wire or chain, and any similar instrument or device.
3. Any instrument or device commonly known as “manrikigusari” or “kusari”, being hexagonal or other geometrically shaped hard weights or hand grips linked by a length or lengths of rope, cord, wire or chain, and any similar instrument or device.
4. Any finger ring that has one or more blades or sharp objects that are capable of being projected from the surface of the ring.
5. Any device that is designed to be capable of injuring, immobilizing or incapacitating a person or an animal by discharging an electrical charge produced by means of the amplification or accumulation of the electrical current generated by a battery, where the device is designed or altered so that the electrical charge may be discharged when the device is of a length of less than 480 mm or bigger, and any similar device.
6. A crossbow or similar device that
(a) is designed or altered to be aimed and fired by the action of one hand, whether or not it has been redesigned or subsequently altered to be aimed and fired by the action of both hands; or
(b) has a length not exceeding 500 mm.
7. The device known as the “Constant Companion”, being a belt containing a blade capable of being withdrawn from the belt, with the buckle of the belt forming a handle for the blade, and any similar device.
8. Any knife commonly known as a “push-dagger” that is designed in such a fashion that the handle is placed perpendicular to the main cutting edge of the blade and any other similar device other than the aboriginal “ulu” knife.
9. Any device having a length of less than 30 cm and resembling an innocuous object but designed to conceal a knife or blade, including the device commonly known as the “knife-comb”, being a comb with the handle of the comb forming a handle for the knife, and any similar device.
10. The device commonly known as a “Spiked Wristband”, being a wristband to which a spike or blade is affixed, and any similar device.
11. The device commonly known as a “Kiyoga Baton” or “Steel Cobra” and any similar device consisting of a manually triggered telescoping spring-loaded steel whip terminated in a heavy calibre striking tip.
12. The device commonly known as a “Morning Star” and any similar device consisting of a ball of metal or other heavy material, studded with spikes and connected to a handle by a length of chain, rope or other flexible material.
13. The device known as “Brass Knuckles” and any similar device consisting of a band of metal with one or more finger holes designed to fit over the fingers of the hand.
It is a criminal offence under Canadian law to posses any of the weapons listed in section s. 84(1) and the associated regulations. Possession refers to any situation where you have knowledge and control of the object. This includes owning the weapon, having it on your person, keeping it in your home, car, or storage facility, etc.
Although pepper spray is illegal under s. 84(1), there are some exceptions to the law against pepper spray. All products that contain the word “mace” or “pepper spray” on the label or are originally produced for the purpose of being used on human beings are “prohibited weapons” under the Regulations. However, similar products that are labeled as “dog spray” or “bear spray” and are designed for use on animals are not considered weapons under s. 84(1).
These are produced to be carried by individuals fearing animal attack and are regulated under the Pest Control Act. These products may be legally carried by anyone, unless an individual was carrying animal spray with the intention of using it for a purpose contrary to the public peace.
Carrying animal spray for such a purpose would be illegal under s. 88. However, if you carry animal spray because you are afraid of dogs you are not violating any laws, and if you happen to be the victim of an unprovoked attack by a human being while carrying the animal spray, it is within your rights to use the animal spray to defend yourself.
Switchblades, butterfly knifes, and some kinds of daggers are banned under s. 84(1); however, other types of knives are not banned such as hunting knives, search and rescue knives, and swiss army knives. Again, whether or not carrying a non-prohibited knife is legal under s. 88 depends on whether you are carrying it for a purpose contrary to the public peace.
Know your rights. Contact Kostman and Pyzer, Barristers today if you've been charged with a criminal offence relating to “prohibited weapons” or any other criminal offence!
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