section 94(4)

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

This section exempts occupants of a motor vehicle from firearm possession charges if the firearm was obtained through legal means.

SECTION WORDING

94(4) Subsection (1) does not apply to an occupant of a motor vehicle where the occupant or any other occupant of the motor vehicle is a person who came into possession of the firearm, prohibited weapon, restricted weapon, prohibited device or prohibited ammunition by the operation of law.

EXPLANATION

Section 94(4) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides an exemption in certain situations related to possession of prohibited and restricted weapons. According to subsection 1 of the same section, it is an offense to possess a firearm, prohibited weapon, restricted weapon, prohibited device, or prohibited ammunition while in a vehicle or on its way to or from a vehicle. However, subsection 4 carves out an exception to this general rule. The exemption applies to an occupant of a motor vehicle when the occupant or any other occupant of the vehicle came into possession of the firearm, prohibited weapon, restricted weapon, prohibited device, or prohibited ammunition by operation of law. The person in possession of such an item is not guilty of an offense if they acquired it in compliance with a legal process or order. This could mean that if an individual were to acquire a firearm or other prohibited item through a court order, such as if it was listed as part of a divorce settlement, they would be exempt from prosecution under subsection 1 of Section 94. This exemption intends to ensure that individuals who acquire prohibited or restricted items through lawful means are not unjustly penalized under the law. In general, Section 94 is an essential component of Canada's strict gun laws, aimed at controlling the flow of firearms and other weapons in the country. While subsection 4 provides an exemption, Canada continues to maintain strict regulations on firearms possession and use to promote public safety.

COMMENTARY

Section 94(4) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides an important exception to the criminal liability of a motor vehicle occupant in possession of a firearm, prohibited weapon, restricted weapon, prohibited device, or prohibited ammunition. This section exempts occupants of a motor vehicle from prosecution where the firearm or related item was obtained through the operation of law. The aim of section 94(4) is to avoid penalizing individuals who have obtained a weapon or related item by lawful means and who are in the process of transporting it as required by law. For example, individuals who have valid firearms licenses may need to transport firearms for hunting or sports shooting. Similarly, individuals who have inherited firearms may need to transport them to a location where they can be safely stored or sold. Section 94(4) ensures that these individuals are not criminally liable for simply being in possession of these items while transporting them. However, it is important to note that section 94(4) does not apply where the possession of the firearm or related item is in violation of any other provision of the Criminal Code or any other federal, provincial, or territorial law. This means that if the person in possession has not followed the proper procedures for transporting firearms or other weapons, they can still be criminally liable. It is also worth noting that while section 94(4) may provide legal protection to an individual in possession of a firearm or related item, this does not mean that police officers cannot investigate or seize the item if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed. Officers can still detain an individual and seize the item in accordance with their lawful duties, but the individual will not be criminally charged for simply being in possession of the item. Overall, section 94(4) provides necessary legal protection to individuals who obtain firearms or other related items through lawful means and are in the process of transporting them as required by law. This section ensures that individuals are not penalized for fulfilling their legal obligations, while still holding them accountable if they violate the law in any other way. The exception provided by section 94(4) strikes an important balance between individual rights and the public interest in ensuring public safety.

STRATEGY

Section 94(4) of the Criminal Code of Canada pertains to the possession of firearms, prohibited weapons, restricted weapons, prohibited devices, or prohibited ammunition in a motor vehicle. This section creates an exception to Section 94(1), which states that it is an offense to possess such items in any place other than a person's dwelling house, place of business, or land owned or occupied by them. Section 94(4) provides an exemption to individuals who came into possession of these items through the operation of law. For instance, an executor of an estate who is transporting a firearm that belonged to the deceased may not be charged under Section 94(1) as long as the firearm remains unloaded and locked in the trunk of their car, as per the regulations set out by the Firearms Act. When dealing with Section 94(4), several strategic considerations come into play. Firstly, individuals must be aware of the scope of this exception. This exception only applies if the occupant or any other occupant of the motor vehicle came into possession of the firearm or prohibited item through the operation of law. The term "operation of law" refers to situations in which an individual acquires an item through a legal process, such as an inheritance, a court order, or a police seizure. It does not apply to instances where the individual obtained the item illegally or where they acquired the item through a legal means that did not involve a court order (e.g., purchasing a firearm from a third party). Another strategic consideration when dealing with Section 94(4) is the importance of maintaining proper documentation. Individuals who transport firearms or other prohibited items in a motor vehicle must have the necessary documentation to prove that the item was acquired through the operation of law. This documentation may include a court order, an executor's certificate, a receipt of forfeiture, or any other official document that demonstrates lawful possession. Without such documentation, individuals may be subject to charges under Section 94(1) if they are found to be in possession of the item. Therefore, it is essential to carry all necessary documentation when transporting these items in a motor vehicle. Furthermore, in some situations, it may be beneficial to seek legal advice before transporting firearms or other prohibited items in a motor vehicle. Professional legal advice can help individuals understand the requirements under Section 94(4) and any other related regulations. This advice can also help individuals navigate any legal challenges that may arise if they are charged with offenses under the Criminal Code. In conclusion, individuals who transport firearms, prohibited weapons, restricted weapons, prohibited devices, or prohibited ammunition in a motor vehicle must be aware of the exemption provided under Section 94(4) of the Criminal Code of Canada. Strategic considerations, such as understanding the scope of the exception, maintaining proper documentation, and seeking legal advice when necessary, must be taken to ensure that individuals are compliant with the law. By following these strategies, individuals can avoid legal complications and ensure a safe and lawful transportation of these prohibited items.