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In Australia, the importation of firearms that are prohibited absolutely or without obtaining the approval of a person specified in the regulations, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of 2,500 penalty units.
In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for this charge:
The offence of unlawfully importing firearms and firearm accessories is contained in section 233BAB of the Customs Act 1901 which defines firearms, accessories, ammunition and imitations as ‘tier 2 goods’ for the purpose of importation offences.
Section 233BAB of the Customs Act allows for the regulations to make provisions in relation to the importation of firearms. As such, the provision should be read alongside regulation 4F of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 which states: “…the importation of a firearm, a firearm accessory, a firearm part, a firearm magazine, ammunition, a component of ammunition or an imitation is prohibited.
Schedule 6 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 sets the requirements for the importation of certain firearms, accessories, ammunition and imitations. Different items will require different ‘tests’ to be fulfilled in order to allow for importation. It is important to examine closely Schedule 6 in order to determine the tests required in relation to a particular item. Some of tests that may be required are:
In addition, regulation 4F of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations also sets out a number of statutory exceptions to the offence.
To convict you of an offence under this section, the police must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
It is a complete defence to the charge of importation of firearms if written permission was obtained from the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department in accordance to the regulations.
Under Commonwealth law, an offence under this section is an indictable offence. This means that it will be dealt with in the District Court, however, it may be dealt with in the Local Court with the consent of both the prosecutor and the defendant. If the matter is finalised in the District Court, this will give rise to harsher penalties.
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.