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Possession of Dangerous Articles


Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

In NSW it is an offence to possess certain dangerous items or objects. The dangerous items or objects for which it is an offence to possess are listed in the legislation and include any item capable of discharging an irritant or any substance capable of causing bodily harm, any item with a fuse capable of use with an explosive, any detonator and any distress signal or flare.

This offence is known as Possession of Dangerous Articles.

A person can be charged with this offence if they are in possession of one of the above items whilst in a public place.

The maximum penalty for the offence is 2 years imprisonment.

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


The offence of Possess Dangerous Article is contained in section 93FB(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 and states:

  • A person who, in a public place, possesses:
    • anything (not being a firearm within the meaning of the Firearms Act 1996) capable of discharging by any means:
      • any irritant matter in liquid, powder, gas or chemical form or any dense smoke, or
      • any substance capable of causing bodily harm, or
    • a fuse capable of use with an explosive or a detonator, or
    • a detonator, or
    • a distress signal, or distress flare, that operates by emitting a bright light,

is liable, on conviction before the Local Court, to imprisonment for 2 years, or a fine of 50 penalty units, or both.


Examples of Possess Dangerous Article include:

  • Taking a flare to a football game;
  • Carrying a stick of dynamite with a fuse in your backpack; or
  • Leaving a spare work detonator in your car.


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

  • That you were in possession of one of the dangerous articles specified under the legislation; and
  • That you were in a public place whilst in possession of the dangerous article.


The common ways to defend this charge are:

  • To maintain your innocence if you did not commit the act;
  • To argue that you were not ‘in possession’ of the dangerous article;
  • To argue that you were not in a public place;
  • To argue that the item you were in possession of is not one of the items listed in the legislation;
  • To argue that you had a reasonable excuse for possessing the dangerous article;
  • To argue that you were in possession of the dangerous article for a lawful purpose; or
  • To raise necessity or duress as the reason for your conduct.


The charge is a summary offence which means that the matter will be finalised in the Local Court.

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 sentenceThis 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 possession of dangerous articles other than firearms 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.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

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