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Unregistered firearms

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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

In NSW, supplying, acquiring, using or possessing a firearm that is not registered carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment if the firearm is a pistol or a prohibited firearm, or 5 years imprisonment in any other case. All firearms are required to be registered in a Firearm Registry. Owners are issued with a certificate of registration for proof that the firearm is registered which matches to the firearms individual serial number.

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


THE OFFENCE OF UNREGISTERED FIREARMS

The offence of Unregistered Firearms is contained in section 36 of the Firearms Act 1996 which states: A person must not supply, acquire, possess or use a firearm that is not registered.

Maximum penalty: imprisonment for 14 years if the firearm concerned is a pistol or prohibited firearm, or imprisonment for 5 years in any other case.

WHAT ACTIONS MIGHT CONSTITUTE AN OFFENCE OF SUPPLYING, ACQUIRING OR POSSESSING AN UNREGISTERED FIREARM?

  • Transferring ownership of a firearm that is not registered through a sale, as a gift, bartering, or through exchange.
  • Receiving, or accepting a firearm that is not registered;
  • Possessing (in your car, house, or other premises under your control) a firearm that is not registered.

WHAT THE POLICE MUST PROVE

To convict you of supplying, possessing, using or acquiring a unregistered firearm, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you supplied, purchased, possessed or used a firearm and
  • The firearm was not registered.

POSSIBLE DEFENCES FOR UNAUTHORISED USE OR POSSESSION OF A PROHIBITED FIREARM OR PISTOL

Possible defences to unauthorised use or possession of a pistol or prohibited firearm charge include but are not limited to:

  • Duress;
  • Necessity;
  • That the firearm was in fact registered;
  • That you did not know, or could not reasonably be expected to have known, that the firearm was unregistered, and you were not the owner of the firearm at the time of the alleged offence
  • If you purchased the firearm and you are a licensed firearms dealer and an application for registration of the firearm is made within 24 hours after acquiring the firearm
  • You were possessing or using a firearm and you are from a state or territory other than NSW and the firearm is registered in that state.

WHICH COURT WILL HEAR YOUR MATTER?

This offence is a Table 2 offence. This means that the matter will likely be dealt with in the Local Court, however, the DPP can elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court. If they do so, this will give rise to harsher penalties.


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 possess unlicensed firearm 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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