Is Pepper Spray Legal in Canada?

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Canada’s strict gun laws are a running joke to many of our neighbours south of the border. Just because a person cannot typically carry a gun for self-defence, though, does it mean they have no options to protect themselves? For instance, is pepper spray legal in Canada? Unfortunately, you may be out of luck if you’re considering carrying Mace® or other sprays as self-defence.

Is Pepper Spray Illegal in Canada?

Pepper spray is not legal in Canada. It is considered a prohibited weapon under our country’s criminal code. This is true of any gas, powder, liquid, or other substance discharged from a weapon that can immobilize, injure, or otherwise incapacitate another individual.

In fact, our country has outlawed a wide variety of items that could be used in self-defence. Anything that’s intended to cause intimidation, injuries, death, or even present a threat to someone is typically outlawed. Violating this law can have serious consequences.

What Are Criminal Penalties for Possessing Pepper Spray?

Anyone arrested for carrying pepper spray can face prison time. There are a variety of crimes that a person may be charged with. These include hybrid offences — such as unauthorized possession of a prohibited weapon — and indictable offences like importing a prohibited weapon.

However, there are also instances where the Crown Attorney may choose to prosecute summarily. The prosecutor’s approach will have a significant effect on potential penalties for carrying pepper spray. However, prison sentences can range up to 10 years in some cases. This is why you should seek legal counsel if you’re facing charges.

Are There Alternatives to Pepper Spray?

Once people learn that pepper spray is illegal, they often wonder whether there are legal self-defence alternatives. After all, an attacker doesn’t need to be armed to cause injury or death. So, are there alternatives to pepper spray for self-defence?

This is a complex question, and its full answer will often only come after someone is charged with an offence. That’s because items such as fixed-blade knives, bear mace, and batons are legal to carry, but the law states that their use cannot be intended to harm others.

Unfortunately, the criminal code is intentionally vague in this area to give police, prosecutors, and the courts more discretion. Put simply, carrying any self-defence weapon could result in charges. However, a good lawyer may be able to help you avoid conviction.

What If You’re Arrested With Pepper Spray?

If you’re arrested with pepper spray, the weapon will first be confiscated. It’s also likely that you’ll be taken into custody. However, you might be entitled to bail depending on the circumstances of your situation. This means you may not have to stay in jail while awaiting prosecution.

After being arrested for carrying pepper spray — or any prohibited weapon — keep in mind that you don’t have to speak to the police. Doing so may hinder your defence. After being charged with such a serious crime, it’s likely in your best interest to quickly contact a Toronto criminal defence lawyer.

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