Mandatory Jail for Weapon Offences
If you’re found in the unlawful possession of a weapon, the consequences can be serious. However, not all weapons are treated equally by the law.
There are some weapons that will send you to jail for a very, very long time.
My name is Dave, I’m a Brisbane Criminal Lawyer, and that’s what we’re going to discussing right now.
In Queensland, it’s illegal to possess a weapon or a firearm unless the law says you’re allowed to. Whether you’re allowed to possess a weapon however will depend on the type of weapon you’re found with, what you’re using the weapon for and whether you hold a valid licence for that weapon.
Let’s go through these in more detail.
First, let’s look at the different types of weapons that are out there.
All weapons in Queensland are subject to the Weapons Act 1990. This Act puts weapons into different categories which then determine the penalties for their unauthorised possession.
For example, paintball guns and air rifles are classed as a Category A weapon.
A handgun is a Category H weapon and certain knives such as flick knives are category M weapons.
You are unable to possess any of these weapons unless you have been granted a licence by the Queensland Government allowing you to do so. If you are found in unlawful possession of a restricted weapon, the penalty will depend on the type of weapon you were found with.
If you are found with a category M weapon such as a flick knife, the maximum jail sentence is 2 years. However, if you are found with a handgun, which is a category H weapon, the maximum jail sentence jumps up to 7 years.
You can also be charged with possessing a weapon even if you are not normally required to hold a licence for it. For example, there is nothing illegal with having a steak knife or even a butcher’s knife in your kitchen. But if you’re stopped by the police while walking down the street and you’re found with a steak knife in your pocket, you’ll need to justify why you have that knife in a public place. If you can’t explain why you had that knife, you could face a jail sentence of up to 1 year.
So clearly, the type of weapon you unlawfully possess can have a big impact on what sentence can be imposed.
There are, however, also mandatory minimum jail sentences that must be imposed in certain situations.
A mandatory jail sentence requires a magistrate or a judge to sentence someone to a certain amount of time in prison, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their case. In other words, the courts have no choice but to give that person a minimum penalty if they commit certain offences.
Mandatory sentences are extremely controversial because they are not always proportional to the crime committed, meaning they can sometimes result in longer sentences than the offender deserves. This is why most defence lawyers are strongly opposed to the idea of mandatory sentences.
In the case of weapon offences, there are several mandatory sentences that can apply depending on the offence.
If a person is found with a firearm such as a rifle or shotgun that has been shortened to less than 75cm in length, that person will face a minimum jail sentence of at least 1 year simply because the weapon was shortened. Therefore it doesn’t matter why the person was in possession of the shortened firearm – they’ll have to spend at least one year in prison.
It can get even worse though.
if a person is convicted of supplying a shortened firearm to someone else, they will be sentenced to a minimum of 2.5 years in jail.
Keep in mind also that these sentences involve actual custody in a prison.
So as you can see, people face serious penalties if they get involved with weapons including possible mandatory jail sentences.
Now obviously the examples I’m giving all assume that you do not hold a valid weapon licence. If you do hold a valid licence and you’re complying with the conditions of that licence, you’re safe.
But if you don’t have a licence or if you’re not complying with the conditions of your licence, you should be aware of the possible consequences.
If you have any questions about possessing weapons in Queensland, you can leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to respond. If you’d like to stay up to date with Queensland’s weapon laws, make sure you subscribe.
And until next time, stay safe.