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Dangerous Use of Firearms

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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

In NSW it is an offence to fire or discharge a firearm or spear gun into a building or land without a reasonable excuse or lawful purpose. This offence is known as Dangerous Use of Firearms.

A person can be charged with this offence if they shoot a gun or spear gun onto any land or into any building.

The maximum penalty for the offence is 10 years imprisonment.

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for this charge:

THE OFFENCE OF DANGEROUS USE OF FIREARMS

The offence of Dangerous Use of Firearms is contained in section 93H(2) of the Crimes Act 1900 and states:

  • A person who fires a firearm or spear gun in or into any any building or on or on to any land, unless the person:
    • is the owner or occupier of the building or land or has the permission of the owner or occupier, or
    • does so with a reasonable excuse, or
    • does so for a lawful purpose,
  • is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

WHAT ACTIONS MIGHT CONSTITUTE THE OFFENCE OF DANGEROUS USE OF FIREARMS?

Examples of Dangerous Use of Firearms include:

  • Firing a gun into an old and abandoned building;
  • Shooting a spear gun into the river that runs through the local High School; or
  • Attempting to shoot the cat on your neighbours roof.

WHAT THE POLICE MUST PROVE

To convict you of Dangerous Use of Firearms the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • That you fired a firearm or spear gun; and
  • That you fired the firearm or spear gun onto land or into a building.

POSSIBLE DEFENCES FOR DANGEROUS USE OF FIREARMS

The common ways to defend this charge are:

  • To maintain your innocence if you did not commit the act;
  • To argue that you did not fire the firearm or spear gun;
  • To argue that you did not fire the firearm or spear gun onto land or into a building;
  • To argue that you were the owner or occupier of the land or building;
  • To argue that you had the permission of the owner or occupier of the land or building;
  • To argue that you had a reasonable excuse for firing the firearm or spear gun;
  • To argue that you fired the firearm or spear gun for a lawful purpose; or
  • To raise necessity or duress as the reason for your conduct.

WHICH COURT WILL HEAR YOUR MATTER?

The charge is a table two offence which means that the matter will be finalised in the Local Court unless the Director of Public Prosecutions elects to have the matter finalised in the District Court.

If the matter is finalised in the Local Court the court can only impose a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.


Types of penalties:

Jail: This is the most serious penalty for this charge and involves full time detention in a correctional facility. Read more.

Home Detention: Home detention is an alternative to full-time imprisonment. In effect the gaol sentence is served at your address rather than in a gaol. Read more.

Intensive correction order (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.

Periodic detention(commonly known as weekend detention): This form of imprisonment ceased to be a sentencing option in October 2010.

Suspended sentence: This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.

Community service order(CSO): This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.

Good behaviour bond: This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.

Fines: When deciding the amount of a fine for a possessing or making an explosive charge the magistrate or judge should consider your financial situation and your ability to pay any fine they set. Read more.

Section 10: avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.


where to next?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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