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Possession of an offensive weapon

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Carrying an offensive weapon is a serious offence. The unlawful provision and possession of weapons encourages violence and can cause serious injury and death. In addition to this possession of weapons also assists in the facilitation of other criminal offences, such as the supply of prohibited drugs.

What is the offence of possession of an offensive weapon?

Section 1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 prohibits the possession in any public place of an offensive weapon without lawful authority or excuse.

What is classed as an offensive weapon?

The term "offensive weapon" is defined as: "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".

The courts have been reluctant to find many weapons as made or adapted for use to cause injury. This is largely because most cases before the courts involve household or everyday items which are made for use other than to cause injury. Reliance therefore is placed upon the second limb of the definition that the item is possessed with the intention to use it to cause injury.

What defences are available for possession of an offensive weapon?

It is a defence if there is any “lawful authority or reasonable excuse” to be in possession of the weapon. For example if a chef carries knives to/from work, or a sportsman takes his equipment to/from training.

It is important to discuss this matter with your legal advisor at the earliest opportunity in order to establish whether there is any lawful authority or reasonable excuse for you to be in possession of an offensive weapon.

The earliest opportunity for you to provide this defence is during the police station interview. The caution given before the police interview is as follows: ‘You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence, if you do not mention when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.’ It is therefore imperative that legal advice is obtained at this stage in order to provide any “lawful authority or reasonable excuse” during the police in interview.

What sentence can I get for possession of an offensive weapon?

The offence of possession of an offensive weapon is triable either-way. This means that it can be dealt with in either the Magistrates’ or Crown Court depending upon the seriousness of the offence.

At the first hearing at the Magistrates’ Court the will be a determination as to whether the case is to remain at the Magistrates’ to be deal with or if the matter should be dealt with in the Crown Court.

At the Crown Court the maximum sentence is 4 years.

How we can help?

At Emery Johnson Astills we regularly advise and represent defendants facing allegations concerning the possession and involving the use of weapons. For further information and advice in relation to drugs offences, please contact the criminal defence team in Leicester on 0116 2554855, or in Loughborough on 01509 610312.