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Supreme Court of Canada rules some gun laws unconstitutional

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Though not always the case, sometimes violent crimes involve the use of weapons, such as guns. In an effort to try to reduce the number of such cases that occur, the government has made laws that provide serious penalties for gun crime convictions. In 2008, an omnibus bill put new sentencing rules pertaining to gun crime convictions into place. Specifically it instituted mandatory minimums upon conviction. Some of these laws were recently struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Earlier this month the high court ruled on the appeal of two cases. The first concerned individuals convicted of a first offence of possessing a loaded gun that was prohibited. For that crime individuals received a three-year mandatory minimum sentence. The second involved convictions for second offences resulting in a five-year mandatory minimum sentence. The Supreme Court determined that these mandatory minimum sentences are unconstitutional.

The court’s decision upheld a ruling issued by the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2013. In the 6-3 decision the court deemed the law was cruel and unusual.

This change could potentially be positive for those facing gun charges in the future. While the best case scenario is of course for an accused to be found not guilty of the charge, in cases where despite mounting a strong defence, someone is nonetheless convicted, it could result in a less serious penalty.

The first step toward creating a strong defence is to engage the assistance of a lawyer who has experience handling these types of cases. That person can look at the specifics of the case and help determine the best way to go with it.

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