Unlicensed Firearm (Unauthorised Possession of Firearm)

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Unlicensed Firearm (Unauthorised Possession of Firearm)


In NSW, using or possessing a firearm that you are not authorised to carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment. This offence is different to unauthorised possession or use of a pistol or prohibited firearm, which are more serious offences (link to s7 offence).

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

The Offence of Unauthorised Possession or use of a Firearm

The offence of unauthorised possession or use of a firearm is contained in section 7A of the Firearms Act 1996 which states: a person must not possess or use a firearm unless the person is authorised to do so by a licence or permit. Maximum penalty: imprisonment for 5 years.

What Actions Might Constitute Unauthorised Possession of use of a Firearm

If a person does not hold a firearms licence at all and they are in possession of, or are found using, a firearm:

  • If you have a firearms licence but are breaking a condition of that licence, for example:
    • There are different licence categories that allow people to use different types of guns – so if you are using a gun that you are not licenced to use you would be guilty of this offence.
    • If you are using a gun for a purpose that you are not licenced for. for example, if you have a gun licence because you are employed in the security industry but are using your gun to do recreational shooting.

What the Police Must Prove

To convict you of unauthorised possession of a firearm, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you were in possession of or using a firearm, and:
    • You did not have a licence to do so; or
    • You had a firearm licence but you were using or possessing a firearm in a way that contravenes a condition of your licence; or
    • You had a firearm licence but were using the firearm otherwise than for the purpose established by you as being the genuine reason for possessing or using the firearm.

Possible Defences for Unauthorised use or Possession of a Firearm

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

  • Duress;
  • Necessity;
  • You had a licence that allowed you to possess the firearm;
  • You had a licence that allowed you to use the firearm in the manner that you were.

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 and involves full time detention in a correctional facility. Read more.

Home Detention: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 as a standalone order but may be imposed as a condition of an Intensive Corrections Order (ICO). 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: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018. 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): As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). 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: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). 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.

Community Corrections Orders (CCO): a CCO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the Community Corrections Orders (CCO). Additional conditions may be imposed at the discretion of the court, both at the time of sentence and subsequently upon application by a community corrections officer, juvenile justice officer or the offender. 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 10A: a section 10A is a conviction, with no other penalty attached to it. Read more.

Conditional Release Order (CRO): a CRO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the CRO. 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.

 

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