Possessing Unregistered Firearms
Under the provisions of the Weapons Act 1997 it is a requirement for all firearms to be registered with the Queensland Police Service.
Section 50A of that Act says that possessing a firearm which is not registered with the Queensland Police Service (either at all, or incorrectly so) is a criminal offence punishable by a maximum fine of 120 Penalty Units.
Penalties the court can impose:
- Intensive Corrections Order
- Community Service Orders (CSO)
- Section 19 order
The Offence of Possessing Unregistered Firearms
It is important to note that an offence of possessing an unregistered firearm can only be committed by a person who otherwise holds a licence to possess the firearm in question. A person who possesses an unregistered firearm, while not holding the appropriate licence to do so, likely commits a separate offence of unlawfully possessing a weapon.
It is specifically not an offence for a licenced weapons dealer or armourer to possess an unregistered firearm, providing the firearm is recorded in their own register (which they are obliged to keep under the provisions of the Weapons Act).
What Actions Might Constitute Possessing Unregistered Firearm?
Quite simply, the act of possessing (whether physically or by being in knowing control of) a firearm which is not registered, or is incorrectly registered, likely constitutes the offence of possessing an unregistered firearm.
Possessing a firearm can mean more than having it in one’s physical possession and, for example, having the firearm secured in a gun safe in a shed, or even a property which a person is not ordinarily resident at, could constitute possession of that firearm.
Will I Receive a Criminal Conviction for Possession of Unregistered Firearms?
As a starting point you should assume that a conviction will be recorded against you if you are found guilty of possessing an unregistered firearm, but it is not inevitable. If you have been charged with possessing an unregistered firearm and are concerned about a conviction being recorded against you, contact one of Armstrong Legal’s criminal law team to discuss ways in which you might avoid that outcome.
A conviction for a firearms offence such as possessing an unregistered firearm may have a negative implication for a person’s ability to hold a firearms licence so, if you are a licenced firearms owner and are facing such a charge it is very important that you obtain competent legal advice at an early stage.
What the Police Must Prove
In order to convict you of possessing an unregistered firearm it must be proved that:
- You held an appropriate firearms licence; and
- You possessed a firearm; and
- The firearm which you possessed did not have all of the required details recorded on the Queensland Police Service register of firearms.
Possible Defences to Possessing Unregistered Firearms
While there are no specific defences to a charge of possessing an unregistered firearm created under the Weapons Act, all of the normal statutory defences such as Insanity, Immature Age or Mistake of Fact apply to such a charge.
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
The offence of possessing an unregistered firearm 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. Read more.
Intensive corrections order (ICO): An Intensive Corrections Order (‘ICO’ for short) 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. Read more.
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. Read more.
Community service order(CSO): As the name implies, a Community Service Order (‘CSO’ for short) 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). Read More.
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. Read More.
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. Read More.
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. Read More.
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.