New South Wales has a strict set of laws that seek to restrict, monitor and in many cases prohibit the possession of weapons. The seriousness of these various offences depends largely on the nature of the weapon, whether it was 'possessed' or 'used' and if it was used what the consequences of that use were.
If you are charged with an offence involving the use of a weapon, there may be various defences available to you. In order to obtain the advice of an experienced and skilled advocate, contact Hearn Legal for a free consultation.
CUSTODY OF A KNIFE
This is a summary offence which means it can only be dealt with in the Local Court. While gaol sentences can be imposed, the Courts routinely deal with this charge by way of fine, bond and in some cases section 10. If you are found in a public place or school carrying a knife, the law says that you are guilty of this offence unless you can satisfy the Court that you had a reasonable excuse for being in possession of it. Satisfactory excuses include amongst other things, having it as a part of your employment, for preparation of food, for exhibition or for religious purposes. Whether the Court is satisfied with your excuse will depend heavily on the type of knife and your performance as a witness.
Maximum penalty: 2 years imprisonment / $2200 fine
ARMED WITH INTENT TO COMMIT INDICTABLE OFFENCE
This provision creates four separate offences as follow:
Being armed with a weapon intending to commit an indictable offence
Being in possession, without lawful excuse, of a housebreaking tool or any implement that is capable of being used to break into a safe or car
Having face blackened or disguised intending to commit an indictable offence
Entering or remaining on land or a building intending to commit an indictable offence
This offence is usually dealt with in the Local Court, although the prosecution can elect to have it dealt with in the District Court. How serious the charge is considered will depend on precisely how the offence has been committed. For instance, being found in possession of a screw driver (car breaking implement) would be considered less serious than being armed with a baseball bat about to commit a serious assault or home invasion.
For advice on whether to plead guilty or not guilty, and for advice on likely penalties an experienced solicitor will need to conduct a full assessment of your case.
Maximum penalty: 7 years imprisonment
UNAUTHORISED POSSESSION OR USE OF PROHIBITED WEAPON
In NSW, there is a list of weapons which are defined as being prohibited. It is an offence to possess or use any items on the list without a permit. It is also an offence to use the weapon in a way which falls outside the terms of any permit. The list of prohibited weapons is long and includes things such as military weapons, knuckle dusters, Tasers and nanchaku.
Offences against this section will often be dealt with in the Local Court, but in more serious cases the prosecution can elect for a charge to be dealt with in the District Court. Penalties will vary greatly depending largely on the nature of the weapon.
Maximum penalty: 14 years imprisonment
USE OR POSSESS OFFENSIVE
WEAPON WITH INTENT
An offensive weapon includes all items that would ordinarily be considered weapons, but also any thing that, in the circumstances, is used, intended for use or threatened to be used for offensive purposes. There is no need for the item to be capable of causing harm.
This offence is committed where a person:
Possesses, uses, attempts to use, or threatens to use an offensive weapon; and
Threatens injury to any person or property
With intent to commit an indictable offence; or
To prevent / hinder the lawful apprehension of themselves or another person; or
To prevent / hinder a police officer from investigating any act or circumstance which reasonably calls for investigation
This offence carries a maximum punishment of 12 years imprisonment and will often be dealt with in the Local Court. The prosecution can elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court.
If the offence is committed ‘in company’; that is by 2 or more people acting together, the maximum penalty increases to 15 years. In this case the charge is strictly indictable and can only be dealt with in the District Court.
This is a serious offence. If you are charged it is highly recommended that you promptly obtain the advice of an experienced defence lawyer in order to properly assess your options.
Maximum penalty: 15 years imprisonment
POSSESSION OF DANGEROUS ARTICLES (NOT FIREARMS)
It is an offence to possess in a public place anything falling into any of the following categories:
An item (not being a firearm) capable of discharging by any means:
Any irritant matter in liquid, powder, gas or chemical form or any dense smokeAny substance capable of causing bodily harm
A fuse capable of use with an explosive or a detonator
A distress signal, or distress flare, that operates by emitting a bright light
However, if you can satisfy the Court that you have a reasonable excuse for possession the item, or that it was in your possession for self-defence and that was reasonable in the circumstances, you will be found not guilty.
Maximum penalty: 2 years imprisonment / $550 fine