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Unlawful Possession of Weapons

Section 50(1) of the Weapons Act 1990 a person commits an offence if they unlawfully possess a weapon.  A person unlawfully possesses a weapon if they have physical possession of it without holding an appropriate licence. There are few firearms which can be possessed in Queensland without a licence.

Physical possession means more than holding a weapon in your hand – having it stored in your home or car could be sufficient to establish your possession of it. If a weapon, in particular a firearm, is stored inappropriately (for instance, not in a safe or other type of strong box if the weapon is a firearm) you might commit a separate offence of improperly storing a weapon, irrespective of whether a licence is held for the weapon in question.

Depending on the category and number of weapons possessed, the maximum penalty which applies is between 2 and 13 years imprisonment.

If a weapon is unlawfully possessed in the course of committing another offence (as might occur in a case of armed robbery, for example) then a mandatory minimum penalty of 6 to 18 months actual custody applies to the offence of possessing the weapon, in addition to, or as a component of, any sentence imposed for the other offence.

What Actions Might Constitute Unlawful Possession Of Weapons?

  • Having a weapon in a backpack you are carrying.
  • Driving on a public road with a weapon sitting on the back seat (or in the boot) of your car.
  • Keeping a weapon attached to your belt.

What the Police Must Prove

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

  • possessed an object which is defined in the Act (and associated regulations) as a weapon; and
  • you had no licence to possess that object.

Possible Defences to Unlawful Possession Of Weapons

Possible defences to the charge of unlawful possession of weapons include, but are not limited to:

  • you were not in possession of the weapon;
  • the said weapon is not a weapon as defined under the Act;
  • duress or self defence as the reason for possessing the weapon;
  • you did, in fact, hold a licence for the weapon.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

An offence of unlawful possession 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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