Types of Offences

There are strict rules in place governing the lawful possession of a firearm in Australia. Firstly, every person who possesses a firearm must be licensed to do so. They must register the firearm and keep it safe. They must ensure it is not lost or stolen, or has come into the possession of an unauthorised person. There are also certain types of firearms that people are prohibited from owning. Any person failing to follow these rules may be guilty of committing an offence. Firearm offences are considered serious, and legal advice on your case should be sought as soon as possible.

There are a number of common Firearm Offences, including:

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    Possess/Use Unlicensed Firearm

    Under the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW), certain types of weapons must be licensed. These include all air rifles, non-self-loading rimfire rifles, non-pump action or self-loading shotguns, or shotgun/rimfire rifle combinations. Furthermore under section 7 of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) a person must not use an unlicensed or prohibited firearm.

    All prohibited firearms are not included in this law. Prohibited firearms include (but are not limited to) machine guns, self-loading guns, pump action shotguns, any firearm with a revolving ammunition cylinder, assault shotguns, any gun with a silencer, shortened firearms, and prohibited pistols. See Schedule 1 of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) for more specific examples. Section 7A states: Offence of unauthorised possession or use of firearms generally: A person must not possess or use a firearm unless the person is authorised to do so by a licence or permit. The maximum penalty for the offence of Possess Unlicensed Firearm is 5 years imprisonment whereas the penalty for their usage is 14 years imprisonment.

    What the Police must Prove

    In order for the police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

    • The firearm was in the person’s possession or was used by that person; and
    • The firearm was unlicensed.
    • It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence.

    Legal Defences

    Possible defences to this offence include (but are not limited to):

    • Duress; or
    • Necessity; or
    • Self-Defence
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    Unregistered Firearm in both private and public place

    Under section 36 of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW), a person must not supply, acquire or have in their possession an unregistered firearm. Furthermore, under section 93I of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) it is illegal to possess an unregistered firearm in a public place.

    Again the penalties for this offence are very serious, and can lead to terms of imprisonment. The maximum penalty for the offence of unregistered firearms is 14 years imprisonment if the firearm concerned is a prohibited firearm or pistol, or 5 years imprisonment in any other case. Furthermore, if the firearm is in possession in a public place the maximum penalty is 10 years. Should the circumstances surrounding the charge be one of aggravation this penalty can reach 14 years.

    What the Police Must Prove – Private Place

    In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

    1. The accused either sold, purchased, possessed or used a firearm; and

    2. At the time, the firearm was not registered.

    It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence.

    What the Police Must Prove – Public Place

    In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

    1. The accused person possessed an unregistered firearm in a public place; and

    2. The accused was not authorised under the Firearms Act 1996 to possess the firearm.

    It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence.

    Legal Defences – Private and Public

    Possible defences to this offence include (but are not limited to):

    • Duress; and
    • Necessity.
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    Possess Dangerous Articles

    Under section 93FB of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) a person in possession of a dangerous article (other than a firearm) in a public place is guilty of an offence. Examples of dangerous articles include irritant matters such as gas or chemicals or substances capable of causing bodily harm that are capable of discharging. The maximum penalty for the offence of Possession of Dangerous Articles other than Firearms is a fine 50 penalty units and/or 2 years imprisonment.

    What the Police Must Prove

    In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

    1. The accused had in his/her possession a thing (not being a firearm within the meaning of the Firearms Act 1996); and

    2. The thing was capable of discharging (by any means) any irritant matter in liquid, powder, gas or chemical form or any dense smoke, or any substance capable of causing bodily harm, or a fuse capable of use with an explosive or a detonator, or a detonator.

    It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence.

    Legal Defences

    It is a defence to this offence if the person satisfies the court that they had a reasonable excuse for possessing the article, or if they reasonably possessed it for purposes of self-defence.

    Other possible defences to this offence include (but are not limited to):

    • Duress
    • Necessity

How can Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers help?

Our Criminal Lawyers will carefully consider your case, advise you on all your legal options, and recommend the best way forward.

Call us now on 1300 885 646 or contact us after hours on 0413 317 391 or text 24hrs to book an appointment with one of our solicitors.

The initial consultation is free.

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