Reply to: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/judge-only-trials-would-let-courts-get-back-to-work-j2fjp9pxw In The Times this morning former High Court Judge Sir Richard Henriques advocates that the only way forward in terms of retaining...
If you have been accused of any weapons offence, such as possessing or use of a bladed article, offensive weapon, knife, handgun, stun-gun, TASER, firearm, or other weapon, it is crucial that you instruct an expert solicitor as early as possible.
Our team have considerable experience in dealing with knives, firearms and weapon offences. We recognise the complexities that such charges can involve, including mandatory minimum sentences, offences involving youths, linked offences, whether the correct charge has been laid and what constitutes the specific alleged weapon.
What is a firearm?
A firearm is defined as "a lethal barrelled weapon of any description from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged". It not only includes prohibited weapons, but can also include any component part of a lethal or prohibited weapon and any accessory to lessen the noise or flash caused by firing the weapon, such as a silencer.
What is an air weapon?
It is not always obvious whether something is in fact an air weapon. The law defines air weapons as "an air rifle, air gun or air pistol which does not fall within section 5 (1) (a) and which is not of a type declared by rules made by the Secretary of State under section 53 of the Firearms Act to be specially dangerous".
As this can be a very complicated issue, it is vital that you instruct an expert at the first opportunity.
When is there a mandatory minimum prison sentence?
The Firearms Act lists offences that carry a 5 year mandatory prison sentence for adults and 3 years for 16-17 year olds. These include, possessing, purchasing or acquiring:
- any firearm which is designed or adapted so that 2 or more missiles can be discharged without repeated pressure on the trigger
- any self-loading or pump-action rifled gun other than one which is chambered for .22 rim-fire cartridges
- any firearm which either has a barrel less than 30 centimetres in length or is less than 60 centimetres in length overall, other than an air weapon, a muzzle-loading gun or a firearm designed as signalling apparatus
- any self-loading or pump-action smooth-bore gun which is not an air weapon or chambered for .22 rim-fire cartridges and either has a barrel less than 24 inches in length or is less than 40 inches in length overall
- any smooth-bore revolver gun other than one which is chambered for 9mm. rim-fire cartridges or a muzzle-loading gun
- any rocket launcher, or any mortar, for projecting a stabilised missile, other than a launcher or mortar designed for line-throwing or pyrotechnic purposes or as signalling apparatus
- any air rifle, air gun or air pistol which uses, or is designed or adapted for use with, a self-contained gas cartridge system
- any cartridge with a bullet designed to explode on or immediately before impact, any ammunition containing or designed or adapted to contain any such specific noxious thing and, if capable of being used with a firearm of any description, any grenade, bomb or other like missile, or rocket or shell designed to explode as aforesaid
- any firearm which is disguised as another object
If the weapon is listed above, the mandatory minimum sentence also applies if a person:
- Possesses a firearm with intent to injure
- Possesses a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence
- Uses a firearm to resist arrest
- Carries a firearm with criminal intent
- Carries a firearm in a public place
- Trespasses in a building with a firearm
- Uses another person to mind a dangerous weapon
The mandatory sentence applies where:
- The offence listed above was committed on or after 22 January 2004 and the offender was aged 16, 17 or over 21 years of age when the offence was committed; or
- The offence was committed on or after 28 May 2007 when the offender was aged 16 or over and is aged 18, 19 or 20 at the date of conviction.
Often people are unsure what offences fall within the mandatory minimum sentences and so could inadvertently confess to such an offence in police interview if unrepresented.
The law directs Judge’s to only sentence lower than this in exceptional circumstances and so if you are suspected of any of the above offences, it is imperative that you instruct an expert solicitor as soon as possible.
What is the difference between a knife, a bladed article and an offensive weapon?
A bladed article is an article with blade or point. This includes a folding pocket knife if the cutting edge of its blade exceeds 7.62cm (3 inches) and a butterknife, with no cutting edge and no point.
An Offensive Weapon is "any article made or adapted for use to cause injury to the person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use".
Our weapons solicitors’ expertise
We can provide expert advice on all knife, firearm and weapon offence, including:
- Possession of a bladed article
- Possession of a knife
- Possession of a handgun
- Possession of a stun-gun or TASER
- Possession of a firearm
- Importation of a firearm
- Selling a firearm
- Possession of an imitation firearm
- Criminal use of a firearm
- Possession of certain air guns
- Importation of an imitation firearm
- Conversion of weapons
- Possession of antique or deactivated weapons
- Possession of a readily convertible firearm
- Importation of weapons
- Possession of a disguised firearm
- Possession of ammunition
Funding your case
We are committed to ensuring anyone accused of a knife, firearm or weapon offence can receive representation wherever possible. Our team offer legal aid and private funding options and we ensure that if a case is privately funded, we are clear about the costs of our representation from the outset.
Get in touch with our knives, firearms and weapons solicitors
For further information, call us now on 0207 790 4032 (or out-of-hours on 07841 454 170). Alternatively, complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you for a confidential discussion about your case.