Domestic Violence and Weapons Licences (Qld)
Being the subject of a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) can have serious implications for someone who possesses a weapon or weapons licence in Queensland. Laws governing this are contained in the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 and the Weapons Act 1990.
Domestic Violence Order (DVO)
A court can make a DVO against a person if it is satisfied:
- there is a relevant relationship between the applicant and the person;
- the person has committed domestic violence against the applicant;
- the order is needed to protect the applicant from domestic violence.
Domestic violence means physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or economic abuse, or behaviour that is threatening, coercive or in any other way controls or dominates someone so they fear for their safety or the safety of someone else. It includes injuring or threatening to injure or kill a person or an animal, damaging a person’s property, threatening suicide or self-harm, and unauthorised surveillance.
Including weapons in an order
Section 80 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act states that if an application for a DVO is before the court, the court must ask whether the person to be subject to the order:
- has a weapons licence;
- possesses a weapon;
- has access to a weapon as part of their employment;
- has access to a weapon because they are an officer in the defence forces, police, customs or similar position.
Details of the employer and the arrangements for the access must also be sought.
After gathering this information, the court can include in the order information about:
- the person’s weapons licence;
- any weapon the person possesses;
- any weapon to which the person has access because of their employment;
- any weapon to which the person has access because they are an officer in the defence forces, police, customs or similar position.
The order can also include a statement that the Weapons Act applies to the person, over-riding an exemption granted by section 2 of that Act to people engaged in certain employment, such as a police or customs officer.
The court can consider a weapon to be a “thing” used, threatened to be used, or likely to be used to commit domestic violence. Examples include an animal such as a pet, or a cricket or baseball bat. The order can prohibit a person from possessing the thing, or a thing of the same type, for the duration of the order.
In the order, the court must state as much information as it can about the weapons the person possesses. This is to help police when they have to obtain or seize them from the person.
To “possess” a weapon means to have custody of it, or allow someone to have custody of it but be able to obtain it at will or have control of it.
Impact of an order
Under the Weapons Act, if a person is subject to a temporary DVO, their weapons licence is suspended while the order is in force. The suspension begins at the time the order is made or when the person is given the order, notice or conditions. If a final DVO is made, the licence is revoked. The revocation begins at the time the order is made or when the person is given the order.
The person subject to the DVO must hand over their licence and any weapon. If the person is in court, they can hand the licence to a police officer there. If not, they must arrange with police to hand over the licence, and any weapons, within 1 day of the order being made or the notice is issued. If a police officer personally serves the order or notice on the person, the person must hand them over immediately, unless there is a reasonable excuse. A fine of 10 penalty units ($1334.50) applies if the person does not comply with these laws.
A DVO remains in force for 5 years, unless the court states otherwise. Under the Weapons Act, anyone who has been subject to a DVO cannot apply for a weapons licence for 5 years from the date the order was made.
Weapons for employment
If a person subject to a DVO has access to a weapon as part of their employment, the court must consider this when making a DVO. The court must look at whether the employer can be given a copy of the order and whether they can ensure the person subject to the DVO does not have access to a weapon. This employer is allowed to disclose information about the order to another person at the workplace, to the extent necessary to prevent access to a weapon, and not for any other purpose.
For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.