Criminal Law

Possess Prohibited Weapon

The offence of possessing a prohibited weapon is serious. This is to be expected; however, people often find themselves charged with this very serious offence when in possession of an article they would not have considered to be prohibited or more importantly, a weapon, as defined at law.

The Law

Pursuant to section 7 of the Weapons Prohibition Act, a person must not possess or use a prohibited weapon unless the person is authorised to do so by a permit.

Further, if a person does have a permit yet possesses or uses the weapon outside the conditions of the permit, the person is guilty of this offence and liable to the same penalties.

Penalties

The maximum penalty for possessing a prohibited weapon or using a prohibited weapon is 14 years' imprisonment.

Commentary

Many people charged with this offence are unaware that the item they possessed is a “prohibited weapon” as defined by the Weapons Prohibition Act. Unfortunately, ignorance as to whether an item is in fact a prohibited weapon is not a legal excuse to this offence.

What is a prohibited weapon?

Some of the more common items that result in people being charged include:

- “Mace” and other forms of anti-personnel sprays;

- Flick-knives and butterfly knives;

- Brass knuckles, knuckle-dusters and weighted gloves;

- Police-type batons including extendable batons

- Handcuffs;

- Bullet-proof vests

- Tasers and similar devices;

- Star knives or “Ninja stars”- that is, multi-pointed throwing knives;

- Laser pointers;

- Kung fu sticks or “nunchaks/nunchaku”

- Sling-shots;

- Spear guns (above the length of 45 cm)

- Crossbows;

- Dart guns.

As the short list above illustrates, even a laser pointer is considered a prohibited weapon. Many would be rightly surprised by some of the items that could result in being charged with a very serious offence.

A full list of prohibited weapons can be seen here.

Permits for Prohibited Weapons

You can apply for a permit to possess a prohibited weapon, and to be granted a permit you must:

- be a fit and proper person to hold such a permit;

- have completed the appropriate safety and training requirements;

- have appropriate safe storage facilities;

-have a genuine reason to possess the item- such as a legitimate sporting or recreational purpose, for use in film, television or theatre, historical or antiquarian collections, or historical re-enactment or costuming purposes. 

Information about acquiring a Prohibited Weapons Permit is available from the NSW Police website on their Prohibited Weapons Permits page.

What about self-defence?

You may not possess a prohibited weapon without a permit for any reason; including for your own protection or self-defence. A common example is “mace” and other similar sprays. These are prohibited weapons and it is an offence to possess or carry such an item, even if you hope to never use it and would only use it in an emergency.

But I bought it at a shop/market/stall

Many items on the prohibited weapons list are unfortunately often seen for sale on the internet, or in shops or markets. It is a common mistake to assume that just because something is being offered for sale to the public that it must therefore be legal to own and possess such an item. This is not the case, and should you be charge in relation to the possession of such an item, your ignorance of the law is not a defence.

If you are considering purchasing or acquiring any weapon or item that you think might be “dangerous” or a “weapon”, err on the side of caution, and if necessary seek legal advice.

Should you find yourself charged with a weapons offence, either by itself or in conjunction with other offences, you should call us on 9521 2222 to speak to one of our criminal lawyers immediately or make an online enquiry here.

We have offices in Sydney, Parramatta, Chatswood, Sutherland and Wollongong.


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