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Unlawful Supply of Weapons

Section 50B of the Weapons Act 1990 says, simply, that a person must not unlawfully supply a weapon to another person.  Unlawfully supplying weapons means the giving over of a weapon to another person without being authorised by an appropriate licence to do so. Supplying does not necessarily involve a financial transaction and it does not require any commercial intent. The offence could be committed in circumstances where one person swaps a weapon for another type of object or even in circumstances where a weapon is simply given to another, free of any charge or obligation.

In addition to a physical transfer of a weapon, a mere offer to supply, or acts preparatory to an act of supplying a weapon or weapons, can also constitute an offence against section 50B.

It is not an offence against section 50B to supply a weapon if, in the 12 months before the act of supply, you held an appropriate licence to do so (and your licence was not suspended, surrendered or revoked within that 12 months).

Depending on the category and number of weapons unlawfully supplied, the offence is punishable by a maximum penalty of between 4 and 13 years’ imprisonment.

In addition to a statutory maximum penalty, some offences of unlawfully supplying weapons attract mandatory minimum jail terms. This means that, if you are convicted of the offence in one of the prescribed circumstances you will be required, as a matter of law, to serve a minimum period of time in jail as part of your sentence.

What Actions Might Constitute Unlawful Supply of Weapons?

  • Lending a friend your crossbow to allow him to go hunting;
  • Selling an old firearm on eBay to a private buyer when you do not hold a licence;
  • Swapping hunting knives with a friend.

What the Police Must Prove:

In order to convict you of unlawfully supplying a weapon it must be proved that you:

  • supplied an object which is defined in the Act (and associated Regulations) as a weapon to another person; and
  • you had no licence to supply that object.

Possible Defences to Unlawful Supply of Weapons:

  • You supplied the weapon to a person who has a licence to possess that weapon.
  • You had an appropriate licence for that weapon within the previous 12 months before supplying it.
  • Identity – You were not the person who supplied the weapon.
  • The “weapon” in question was not found to be a weapon as defined under the Act and associated Regulations.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

An offence of unlawful supply of weapons will be heard and determined in the Magistrates Court.

Types of Penalties

Imprisonment: Even though it is not a sentence of last resort (as it is in some other states) imprisonment is the most serious penalty which a court can impose upon a person. At its most severe a sentence of imprisonment means that a person must spend a specified period of time within a correctional facility, also called a prison, a jail or a gaol.

Intensive corrections order (ICO): An Intensive Corrections Order is, technically, a form of imprisonment but which is served wholly in the community. This means that a person who is made subject to an ICO will not spend any time in prison but will, instead, be required to adhere to a number of requirements that the court will order.

Probation: A court can make a Probation Order either by itself, meaning the whole of the sentence is probation, or as a component of a sentence of imprisonment, meaning that a person is ordered to serve a period of time (not longer than 1 year) in prison and is then subject to a probation requirement upon release.

Community service order (CSO): As the name implies, a Community Service Order is an order which requires a person to perform unpaid work, normally at some kind of community facility, for a stated number of hours (to a maximum of 240) within a nominated time (usually 6 or 12 months).

Recognisance: A recognisance is a promise which a person makes to be of good behaviour for a stated period of time. A court is empowered to release a person who enters into a recognisance, either with a surety, which is a sum of money which the person agrees to pay if they breach the recognisance, or without one.

Fines: A court is empowered to impose a fine, which is a sum of money which a person is required to pay to the State, for any offence regardless of whether the law creating it nominates a fine as part of the applicable penalty.

Section 19 dismissal: A court can discharge a person absolutely, or upon them entering into a recognisance, without recording a conviction against them, if it is satisfied that it is appropriate to do so.

In all cases where you are sentenced to a penalty other than jail, the court can choose not to record a conviction against you, meaning your criminal record will remain clear and any complications with work or travel may be avoided.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

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