The Offence of Intentionally Discharging a Firearm

Imagine a scenario in which an individual fires a gun into the air in a crowded room.

The offence of intentionally discharging a firearm being reckless to the life or safety of another person (s. 244.2 of the Criminal Code) is a newer firearm offence that was introduced to capture this kind of situation.  It creates two related, but distinct offences involving the use of a firearm. The offence under sub-section (a) relates to a person intentionally discharging a firearm “into or at a place”. Sub-section (b) is a more general offence.  If convicted, there is currently a mandatory minimum of four years jail, although the present government has introduced a bill that would get rid of the minimum.

To establish an offence under sub-section (b), the Crown must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
a) The accused discharged a firearm;
b) The accused intended to discharge the firearm;
c) The accused was reckless as to life or safety of another person.

Recklessness requires proof that the accused appreciated the risk of harm to the life or safety of another person and proceeded to act notwithstanding the awareness of the risk.

The defences that typically arise are: 1) identity (i.e. can the Crown prove the accused was the shooter; 2) whether the discharge was accidental; and 3)  whether there was any objective risk to the life or safety of another person (i.e. was the shot relatively harmless).  The viability of these defences will be depend on the facts of a particular case.


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