In Victoria it is an offence for a non-prohibited person to possess, carry or use a firearm (including a longarm or a handgun) unless you have a licence under the Firearms Act.
For a longarm, the maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of up to 120 penalty units or 2 years’ imprisonment.
For a handgun, the maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of up to 240 penalty units or 4 years’ imprisonment.
If you have been charged with an ‘unauthorised possession of firearm’ offence, we recommend that you seek legal advice promptly. Our lawyers are highly experienced in criminal law and they will be able to ascertain the strength of the prosecution case against you
A Court can impose any of the following penalties for this charge:
- Imprisonment (Jail – Full Time)
- Community Corrections Orders
- Adjourned undertaking
The Offence of Possessing an Unlicensed Firearm
This offence is contained in sections 6 and 7 of the Firearms Safety Act.
Section 6 states that ‘a non-prohibited person must not possess, carry or use a category A longarm that is registered unless that person does so under and in accordance with a licence issued under this Part’.
Section 7 states that ‘a non-prohibited person must not possess, carry or use a registered general category handgun for purposes other than the purpose of collecting handguns, unless that person does so under and in accordance with a licence issued under Division 3 or 5 of this Part’.
What the Police Must Prove
To convict you of this offence, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You were in possession of the firearm, or you were carrying it or using it;
- The item in question fits the definition of a firearm; and
- You did not have the proper licence.
Possession in relation to a firearm includes:
- Actual physical possession;
- Custody or control; or
- Having and exercising access to the firearm, either solely or in common with others.
‘Carry’ in relation to a firearm includes the carriage of the firearm either as a whole or in parts and either by one person or more than one person.
Possible Defences for Possessing, Carrying or Using an Unlicensed Firearm
Possible defences to this charge include but are not limited to:
- Lack of intent/honest and reasonable mistake
- Factual Dispute
What Court Will Hear Your Matter?
Although this matter is an indictable offence, it will likely be dealt with by the Magistrates’ Court.