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Firing at dwelling houses or buildings

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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

In NSW, Firing at a Dwelling House or Building carries a maximum penalty of 14 or 16 years imprisonment, depending on the circumstances of the offence. The maximum penalty is 16 years if the offence is committed during public disorder or as part of organised criminal activity.

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


THE OFFENCE OF FIRING AT A DWELLING HOUSE OR BUILDING:

The offence of Firing at a Dwelling House or Building is contained in section 93GA of the Crimes Act 1900 which states:

  • (1) A person who fires a firearm at a dwelling-house or other building with reckless disregard for the safety of any person is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.
    • (1A) A person who, during a public disorder, fires a firearm at a dwelling-house or other building with reckless disregard for the safety of any person is liable to imprisonment for 16 years.
    • (1B) A person who, in the course of an organised criminal activity, fires a firearm at a dwelling-house or other building with reckless disregard for the safety of any person is liable to imprisonment for 16 years.

WHAT ACTIONS MIGHT CONSTITUTE FIRING AT A DWELLING HOUSE OR BUILDING?

This offence usually deals with situations in which people fire at a house, like 'drive by shootings'.

It is not necessary to prove that anyone was actually placed in danger by the firing of the firearm.

A dwelling house includes any building or other structure intended for occupation as a dwelling, a boat or vehicle in which someone resides, or any building or structure immediately around a dwelling house.

A building includes vehicle, vessel, tent or temporary structure.

A firearm means a gun, or other weapon, that is (or at any time was) capable of propelling a projectile by means of an explosive, and includes a blank fire firearm, or an air gun.

WHAT THE POLICE MUST PROVE:

To convict you of Firing at Dwelling Houses or Buildings, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You fired a firearm;
  • At a dwelling house or other building;
  • With reckless disregard for the safety of another person,

If on trial, a Jury are not satisfied that you are guilty of the offence, there can be an alternate verdict under sections 93G (causing danger with firearm or spear gun) and 93H (trespassing with or dangerous use of firearm or spear gun) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

POSSIBLE DEFENCES FOR FIRING AT A DWELLING HOUSE OR BUILDING:

Possible defences to a Firing at Dwelling Houses or Buildings charge include but are not limited to:

  • Self Defence
  • Self defence of another
  • Duress
  • Necessity

WHICH COURT WILL HEAR YOUR MATTER? – Jurisdiction T1, T2, or SI

This matter is a strictly indictable offence. This means that it can only be dealt with in the District Court.


Types of penalties:

Jail: This is the most serious penalty 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. If you receive a sentence of home detention you will be strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Read more.

Intensive corrections 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.

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 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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