Firearms and prohibited weapons offences
Firearms and prohibited weapons offences are serious crimes in NSW which attract hefty fines and maximum jail terms from two to 16 years.
The Firearms Act 1996 was introduced following the Port Arthur massacre. It puts the public’s right to safety before the privilege of gun ownership.
- prohibits the possession and use of all automatic and self-loading rifles and shotguns except in special circumstances
- establishes an integrated licensing and registration scheme for all firearms,
- requires a genuine reason for possessing or using the firearm
- provides strict requirements that must be satisfied concerning licensing of firearms and the acquisition and sales of firearms
- ensures that firearms are stored and conveyed in a safe and secure manner
Under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), other firearms offences include:
- trespassing or dangerous use of a firearm (including an imitation firearm) or spear-gun
- firing a firearm at a dwelling house or buildings
- the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW) makes it illegal to possess or use a prohibited weapon
What are the penalties for firearms offences?
Possession of an unlicensed firearm
It is an offence to possess an unlicensed firearm. The maximum period of imprisonment is two years in the Local Court. However, if the matter proceeds to the District Court, the maximum period of imprisonment is five years. To be found guilty of the offence, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the firearm was in your possession and the firearm was unlicensed.
Using an unregistered firearm
It is an offence for an individual to use an unregistered firearm. To convict you of the offence, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt that the firearm was in your possession, was used by you or contravenes any condition of the licence. If the matter is dealt with in the Local Court, the maximum penalty is two years in jail. If the District Court hears the matter of NSW, the maximum period of imprisonment is 14 years imprisonment.
Unauthorised possession or use of prohibited firearms
It is an offence to use or possess a pistol or prohibited firearm without a licence or permit. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 14 years.
Prohibited firearms include:
- self-loading rimfire rifles and centre-fire rifles
- pump-action and assault shotguns
- machine guns and other guns capable of firing more than one shot with a single squeeze of the trigger
- long guns that use a revolving ammunition cylinder
- long guns that fold or that have a readily detachable stock
- guns that have a silencer or sound suppressor attached
- paintball guns
- guns that shoot flares or pyrotechnics
- guns that are disguised to look like something other than a gun
- cannons and other weapons that fire large projectiles
The NSW Police issue permits for prohibited firearms.
Possible defences to a Possess Prohibited Weapon charge include necessity, duress, self-defence, having a permit or being exempt from the requirement to hold a permit.
Possession of an unregistered firearm in a public place
Possession of an unregistered firearm in public attracts a maximum jail term of 10 years, but this can be increased to 14 years if the accused is in possession of more than one unregistered firearm, an unregistered pistol and/or a prohibited firearm.
Shortening or converting firearms
Shortening a rifle or shotgun is illegal if done without a permit and has a maximum 14-year jail term. Converting a firearm or instructing another person in the technique for converting a firearm into a prohibited firearm also violates the Firearms Act. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 14 years. The police can issue a permit authorising a conversion.
Shooting at buildings
Firing at a dwelling or any other building with reckless disregard for the safety of its occupants or other persons is prohibited. Drive-by shootings or any other act of shooting at a building that endangers an occupant or bystander subjects the accused to a maximum jail term of 14 years. This would increase to 16 years if the shooting occurred during a riot or other form of public disorder.
Trespassing with firearms
Entering another person’s building or land without permission while possessing a firearm is illegal unless the entry is made for a lawful purpose or with a reasonable excuse. The maximum jail term is five years if the gun is not fired. Firing the gun increases the maximum sentence to 10 years.
Safekeeping of Firearms
Every person who possesses a firearm must ensure it is kept safe, and it doesn’t become lost or stolen or come into the possession of someone who is not authorised to possess it. The maximum jail term for violating these requirements is two years if the firearm is prohibited or 12 months for all other firearms.
We are here to help
Fourtree Lawyers are experienced in defending clients throughout the Central Coast, the Hunter Region and Sydney facing firearms charges in Court. If you have been charged with a firearms offence and the Police want you to participate in a record of interview, you should exercise your "right to silence" and call us immediately.
Your lawyer can explain and guide you through the entire court process from beginning to end and work with you to defend you on a not guilty plea or minimise the ramifications of your offence if you choose to plead guilty.
If you or your loved one has been charged and held in custody and you need advice from a criminal lawyer, contact one of our criminal law specialists immediately on 1300 529 444 or fill in our contact form to arrange a free conference with a solicitor today. Contact us now! 24-hour legal advice 7 days a week
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Very Helpful, Very Organized approach in defending you in court, Fourtree Lawyers are the company to chose if you want all the confusion and stress to be explained to you and for you in regard to facing court, these people are the Answer.
I’d like to thank Kevin and Jane for meeting me on the weekend and saving me a trip to the central coast (without a licence). I’d also like to thank Paul Popescu for doing a fantastic job representing me on a serious driving charge, he gave me clear instructions on what I needed to do and he was spot on, I received the best possible sentence. I would highly recommend Fourtree Lawyers, they travel all over NSW.
We found Fourtree Lawyers on Google after hours. I called on a Sunday and got some good advice. So went in to meet Kevin on the Monday. The outcome was a section 10(1)(b). We were so pleased and relieved. Thank so much to Kevin and Jane!! Would definitely recommend Fourtree Lawyers! Worth every cent! – JM Terrigal
I was recommend to Fourtree Lawyers from a friend whom also experienced a serious driving infringement. My situation was slightly more serious, being charged with drive while suspended, shared with a reasonably extensive driving record, meant my chances of driving home were minimal. Kevin’s realistic and knowledgeable approach not only prepared & educated me upon all possible verdicts, but also supported me with all possible optimistic outcomes. Kevin’s extensive knowledge of the legal system, combined with the understanding of the Judges expectations, and vast life experience resulted with an outstanding result,...
Community Service – Possess unauthorised firearm, Stalk/Intimidate, Use unregistered vehicle - Gosford Local Court – 24/07/2018
Our client was a 20-year-old student who lives in the Hunter region. He was charged with a number of very serious offences, two of which had maximum penalties of 2-5 years imprisonment.
Our client suffers from major depression, anxiety and panic attack disorder. This was his first time before the courts. Fourtree Lawyers made extensive submissions as to our client's previous good character and his career aspirations.
The Magistrate considered the offences to be very serious and felt that a gaol term was appropriate. Our Solicitor pleaded for the court's consideration of a pre-sentence report which was finally granted. The pre-sentence report determined that our client would be suitable for Community Service. Our client was very relieved to avoid a full-time custodial sentence.
Suspended Sentence – 17 Criminal Charges – Wyong Local Court – 09 April 2018
Our Client, a male who lives on the Central Coast, was charged with a total of 17 criminal charges, including drug offences, firearm and weapon offences, goods in personal custody suspected of being stolen and a traffic offence.
After extensive negotiations, the Police withdrew 7 of the 17 charges and our client was directed to Community Corrections for a Pre-Sentence Report. When the matter was returned to Court, solicitor Kevin Vierboom made submissions in relation to the objectives, seriousness of the charges and the subjective circumstances in mitigation of the sentences.
Following consideration of these submissions, the Magistrate ordered a twelve-month Suspended Sentence on the condition that our client enters into a Good Behaviour Bond. Our client was very relieved at the outcome, considering the number of serious offences he was charged with.
Possess unregistered firearm-prohibited firearm & unlawfully carry weapon through screening point | Dismissed | Raymond Terrace Children’s Court
Our client is a 18 year young man from the Newcastle area. At the time of the offence, he was 17 years old. The case involved possession of a ‘gel blaster’, which is illegal in NSW unless it is registered, and you are the legal owner. However, it remains legal in QLD. As our client checked his luggage in at the Airport, the gel blaster was identified by security and police were contacted who attended and charged our client.
In the Local Court the max penalty for possession of unreg/prohibited firearm attracts a 2-year custodial sentence and/or fine of $5,500. The unlawful carry through screening point attracts a fine of $11,000.
This was our clients first offence. Principal Solicitor Kevin Vierboom appeared and negotiated the withdrawal of the unlawful carry through screening point and entered a plea of guilty for the possession of firearm. In concert with this, our client obtained positive references and addressed the court with a letter of apology.
Having regard to all the circumstances, the Magistrate saw fit to dismiss the charge against our client which meant all charges were dismissed. Our client was extremely happy with the result, as were his family who were present at court in support.
From the first phone conversation Fourtrees gave us the confidence and reassurance that that our matter would be handled with professionalism and an outcome we were hoping for. The submissions given outlined how we felt and defended our matter perfectly. We couldn’t be happier with the care and comfort we received. We would recommend Fourtrees to anyone needing legal advice & will use Fourtrees for all and any of our future legal matters.