Firearms Offences in the ACT

Contravention of Condition by Firearm Licensee

  1. Contravention of a condition by a firearm licensee is an offence under section 45 of the Firearms Act 1996 (ACT).
  2. This offence is indictable, meaning it can be dealt with in either the ACT Magistrates Court or ACT Supreme Court.
  3. The maximum penalty for this offence for a prohibited firearm is a fine of $160,000.00, 10 years imprisonment or both. The maximum penalty for this offence in regard to any other firearm is $8,000.00, 5 years imprisonment or both.
  4. If you plead guilty, or are found guilty, a number of different sentences can be imposed. It is likely that a criminal conviction will be recorded, and it is possible that you will be sentenced to full-time imprisonment.

Contravention of Condition by Firearm Licensee is a serious crime in the ACT, and you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

If you have been charged with the unauthorised use or possession of prohibited firearms, the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. You possessed or used either a prohibited firearm or any other firearm.
  2. You are authorised by a license or permit to possess or use the firearm.
  3. You contravened a condition of the license or permit.

What does ‘use’ mean?

To be held that you used a firearm under the act, it must be proved that you fired the firearm or held it to cause a reasonable belief that the firearm can be fired. For the purposes of the act, it does not matter whether the firearm actually can be fired. For example, pointing an unloaded gun at someone who may reasonably believe that it is loaded would constitute ‘use’.

What does ‘possess’ mean?

Under section 10 of the Firearms Act, a person has possession of a firearm if they:

  • Have the firearm on his or her person, including in something carried or worn
  • Has the firearm at premises owned, leaded, or occupied by the person
  • Otherwise has the care, control, or management of the firearm.

What is a ‘firearm’?

A firearm is defined in section 5 of the Firearms Act as “a gun, or other weapon, that is, or at any time was, capable of propelling a projectile by means of an explosive force, however caused”. It is deemed to include:

  • a gun
  • a blank fire firearm
  • an airgun
  • a paintball marker

Under Section 15 of the act, an adult is authorised to possess a paintball marker only when they do so with the knowledge and approval of the paintball range operator or employee and do are taking part in a paintball activity.

Particular people are exempt from the act. These include:

  • Police officers and Defence Force officials.
  • War Memorial Staff
  • Aircraft or ship captains
  • Officials or participants in particular sporting competitions

What is a ‘prohibited firearm’?

The complete list of firearms prohibited in the ACT can be found in Schedule 1 of the Firearms Act. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Machine guns
  • Shotguns
  • Paintball markers
  • Any firearm with a suppressor
  • A cannon
  • A pistol exceeding 9.65mm calibre
  • self-loading rimfire and centre-fire rifles

Under Section 7, prohibited firearms include modified firearms.

What is meant by ‘firearms licence conditions’?

Every firearm licence in the ACT is subject to a number of mandatory conditions, such as storage, safekeeping, and firearm use. Your licence may also be subject to additional conditions.

Whether your conduct has contravened these conditions is a matter that will be determined by either the Magistrate or Jury, who would consider all of the surrounding circumstances, including what you did and said.

How will the court determine whether I am authorised by license or permit?

Whether at the time of the alleged offence you were authorised by a licence or permit to possess or use the firearm is typically a matter of fact and is rarely contested. The Magistrate, judge or jury will examine the evidence to determine whether or not at the time of the alleged offence you had a valid license and/or permit and said documentation had not expired or otherwise been invalidated.

Should I plead guilty or not guilty to a contravention of condition by firearm licensee?

This will depend on a number of factors including, for example:

  • whether you accept that you used or possessed a prohibited firearm or any other firearm
  • whether you accept that you were authorised by a licence or permit to possess or use the firearm
  • whether you accept that contravened a condition of your firearms licence or permit.

You may accept that you committed the offence, but you may disagree with part of what police say happened. In these circumstances, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to change the facts for sentencing.

Q. What will the court take into consideration when setencing me to contravention of condition by firearm licensee?

The court will take into account the risk to public safety, whether the use of the firearm was connected to other criminal activity, and the surrounding circumstances.

The court will also consider many other factors, including your personal circumstances and criminal history.

Q. If I plead guilty or am found guilty of a contravention of condition by firearm licensee, will a conviction be recorded?

If found guilty of the offence, it is likely that the court will record a conviction. The type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

Q. What does it mean to have a conviction recorded?

A conviction is an entry on your criminal record (also referred to as your antecedents). A conviction may pose a hurdle, or a bar, to current or future employment, travel, adoption, residency, applications for citizenship or your ability to attain or hold a certain licence.

good criminal defence lawyer can potentially reduce the chance of a conviction being recorded by negotiating a lesser charge, securing a dismissal, or arguing for a non-conviction penalty such as a conditional release order.

Q. Will I go to gaol for contravention of condition by licensee?

Although there are many sentencing alternatives, you may go to gaol if you plead guilty or are found guilty. The type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

Q. What will happen to my firearms licence?

If you have been charged with a firearms offence, your firearms licence may be suspended or revoked. This means you will no longer be authorised to use or possess firearms. Your firearms will remain with police until the suspension is lifted or your firearms licence is reinstated.

Q. Can I be charged if I was using an imitation firearm?

Yes. Section 23A of the Firearms Act treats replica or imitation firearms in the same way as genuine firearms. You may be charged with this offence if you were using an imitation prohibited firearm and did not hold a permit.

Q. What is an imitation firearm?

An imitation firearm is defined in section 23A of the Firearms Act as an object that, regardless of its colour, weight or composition or the presence or absence of any moveable parts, substantially duplicates in appearance a firearm but is not a firearm.

It does not include an object identified as a children’s toy.

Q. What is the difference between an imitation firearm and a children’s toy?

A children’s toy gun can be distinguished from an imitation firearm by its:

  • packaging
  • target sale market (for example whether it is sold in a toy store)
  • materials it is made from
  • general function and appearance

The onus is on the person charged with a firearms offence to prove that they were using or in possession of a children’s toy rather than an imitation firearm.

Discharging Firearm at Building or Conveyance

  1. Discharging a firearm at a building or conveyance is an offence under section 28B of the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT).
  2. This offence is indictable, meaning it can be dealt with either in the ACT Magistrates Court or ACT Supreme Court.
  3. The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.
  4. If you plead guilty or are found guilty, a number of different sentences can be imposed. A criminal conviction is almost certain to be recorded, and there is a real risk of being sentenced to full-time imprisonment.

If you have been charged with discharging a firearm at a building or conveyance, the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. You recklessly discharged a firearm
  2. The discharge was directed at a building or conveyance

If charged with discharging a firearm at a building or conveyance, your lawyer would work against the prosecutor by:

  1. Examining evidence for weaknesses.
  2. Challenging claims of recklessness and intent.
  3. Presenting alternative explanations.
  4. Negotiating plea deals for lesser charges.
  5. Highlighting mitigating factors to reduce penalties.

What does ‘recklessness’ mean?

Being reckless in the context of a criminal offence means that you were aware that your conduct may have brought about a particular result and that you decided to continue that conduct regardless of the potential ramifications. In this context, it means that you were aware of the possibility that your conduct may have resulted in discharging a firearm at a building or conveyance but continued regardless. This question is for the magistrate, judge or jury, who would consider the surrounding circumstances.

What is considered a ‘building’?

A building can be described as “an enclosed structure with a roof and walls standing more or less permanently in one place”. Section 28B of the Crimes Act stipulates that a building includes any “part of a building” or “a mobile home, caravan, tent or other temporary structure”. Usually, the courts have applied the ordinary and natural definition of building when interpreting whether a particular structure or area falls within this category. Typically, this interpretation is more likely than not to decide that a particular structure is considered a building fof this section. This is a question for the magistrate, judge or jury, who would consider the surrounding circumstances.

What is considered a ‘conveyance’?

A conveyance typically refers to a vehicle or any other method of transport. Section 28B of the Crimes Act states that this includes “an aircraft, vehicle, or vessel”. This is typically a matter of interpretation, wherein the jury, judge or magistrate will consider all of the surrounding circumstances and available evidence to determine whether something is a vehicle or method of transportation.

What is a ‘firearm’?</H4

A firearm is defined in section 5 of the Firearms Act as “a gun, or other weapon, that is, or at any time was, capable of propelling a projectile by means of an explosive force, however, caused”. It is deemed to include:

  • a gun
  • a blank-fire firearm
  • an airgun
  • a paintball marker

Under Section 15 of the act, an adult is authorised to possess a paintball marker only when they do so with the knowledge and approval of the paintball range operator or employee and do are taking part in a paintball activity.

Under the act, particular people are exempt from the act. These include:

  • Police officers and Defence Force officials.
  • War Memorial Staff
  • Aircraft or ship captains
  • Officials or participants in particular sporting competitions

Section 28B of the Crimes Act also stipulates that firearm may include an airgun or air pistol.

What constitutes ‘discharging a firearm’?

Discharge is typically defined as the relieving of a charge or load. In the context of firearms, this essentially means to fire the weapon. Whether the particular firearm in question was discharged is a question of fact for the magistrate, judge or jury, who would consider all of the surrounding circumstances, as well as expert and/or forensic evidence.

Should I plead guilty or not guilty to a charge of discharging a firearm at a building or conveyance?

This will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Whether you accept that you discharged a firearm at a building or conveyance
  • Whether you accept that your conduct was reckless
  • Whether you accept that you committed the offence

You may accept that you committed the offence, but you may disagree with part of what police say happened. In these circumstances, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to change the facts for sentencing.

Q.What will the court take into account when sentencing?

  1. The court will take into account the risk to public safety, whether the use of the firearm was connected to other criminal activity and the surrounding circumstances.

The court will also consider many other factors including your personal circumstances and criminal history.

Q.If I plead guilty or am found guilty of discharging a firearm at a building or conveyance, will a conviction be recorded?

The court will likely record a conviction. The type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

Q.What does it mean to have a conviction recorded?

A conviction is an entry on your criminal record (also called your antecedents). A conviction may pose a hurdle, or a bar, to current or future employment, travel, adoption, residency, applications for citizenship or your ability to attain or hold a certain licence.

Q.Will I go to gaol for discharging a firearm at a building?

Although there are many sentencing alternatives, there is a real risk that you will go to gaol if you plead guilty or are found guilty.

The maximum penalty for discharging a firearm at a building or conveyance is 10 years imprisonment. However, these penalties are typically reserved for the most extreme offences. The type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

Q.What will happen to my firearms licence?

If you have been charged with this offense, it is likely that your firearm license will be entirely canceled, and your capacity to get a license in the future will be inhibited, making it unlikely that you will be able to use or possess firearms again. A good lawyer can help mitigate these consequences by challenging the prosecution’s case, negotiating for lesser charges, or seeking a non-conviction penalty to preserve your firearm rights.

Q.Can I be charged if I was using an imitation firearm?  

Yes. section 23A of the Firearms Act treats replica or imitation firearms in the same way as genuine firearms. If you were using an imitation prohibited firearm, you may be charged with this offence.

Q.What is an imitation firearm? 

An imitation firearm is defined in section 23A of the Firearms Act as an object that, regardless of its colour, weight or composition or the presence or absence of any moveable parts, substantially duplicates in appearance a firearm but is not a firearm.

It does not include an object that’s identified as a children’s toy.

Q.What is the difference between an imitation firearm and a children’s toy? 

A children’s toy gun can be distinguished from an imitation firearm by its:

  • packaging
  • target sale market (for example if it is sold in a toy store)
  • materials it is made from
  • general function and appearance

The onus is on the person charged with a firearms offence to prove that they were using or in possession of a children’s toy, rather than an imitation firearm.

Failing to Surrender Firearms when Licence Suspended or Cancelled

  1. Failing to surrender firearms when your licence is suspended or cancelled is an offence under section 48 of the Firearms Act 1996 (ACT)
  2. This offence is a summary offence, which is dealt with in Magistrates Court.
  3. The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $8,000.00, imprisonment for six months or both.
  4. If you plead guilty or are found guilty, a number of different sentences can be imposed. A criminal conviction may be recorded and it is possible you will be sentenced to full time imprisonment.

If you have been charged with failing to surrender firearms when licence is suspended or cancelled, the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. Your licence is suspended or cancelled
  2. You intentionally or negligently failed to surrender any firearm in your possession

Given the serious consequences of such a charge, including the likely cancellation of your firearm licence and the inhibition of future licensing, it is crucial to seek expert legal representation.

When must I surrender the firearm?

Subsection (b)(I) states that if the police officer is present and you are in possession of the firearm, you must surrender the firearm immediately. Alternatively, subsections (II) and (III) state that the firearm must be otherwise surrendered as soon as possible after the day the person is given notice that their license has been suspended or cancelled or within the time stated in the notice if a longer time is stated in the notice.

What does ‘possess’ mean?

Under section 10 of the Firearms Act, a person has possession of a firearm if they:

  • Have the firearm on his or her person, including in something carried or worn
  • Has the firearm at premises owned, leaded, or occupied by the person
  • Otherwise has the care, control, or management of the firearm.

What is a ‘firearm’?

A firearm is defined in section 5 of the Firearms Act as “a gun, or other weapon, that is, or at any time was, capable of propelling a projectile by means of an explosive force, however caused”. It is deemed to include:

  • a gun
  • a blank fire firearm
  • an airgun
  • a paintball marker

Under Section 15 of the act, an adult is authorised to possess a paintball marker only when they do so with the knowledge and approval of the paintball range operator or employee and are taking part in a paintball activity.

Under the act, particular people are exempt from the act. These include:

  • Police officers and Defence Force officials.
  • War Memorial Staff
  • Aircraft or ship captains
  • Officials or participants in particular sporting competitions

How does the court determine whether I acted intentionally?

For an act to have been intentional, you must have decided to bring about an act of a particular kind or result. This is a question for the magistrate, who would consider all of the surrounding circumstances including what you did and said.

How does the court determine whether I acted negligently?

Section 21 of the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT) states that a person is deemed negligent if their conduct merits criminal punishment because it involves both “such a great falling short of the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the circumstances” and “such a high risk that the physical element exists or will exist”. Whether your conduct is deemed to have fallen within these elements is a question of fact for the magistrate, who would consider all of the surrounding circumstances.

What constitutes failing to surrender a firearm?

Put simply, failing to surrender a firearm means maintaining possession of and not handing over to police any firearm that you are no longer licensed to possess. Whether you failed to surrender a firearm is a question of fact for the magistrate, who would consider all of the surrounding circumstances, including what you did and said.

How will the court determine whether my license was cancelled or suspended?

Whether your license was cancelled or suspended at the time of the alleged offence is typically a matter of fact and is rarely contested. The magistrate would examine the evidence to determine whether or not, at the time of the alleged offence there was sufficient documentation and/or evidence to suggest that your license had been suspended. Usually, this will be in the form of a notice given to the license holder, which will be relatively clear.

Should I plead guilty or not guilty to failing to surrender firearms when licence suspended or cancelled?

This will depend on a number of factors including, for example:

  • whether you accept that your licence was suspended or cancelled
  • whether you accept that you intentionally or negligently failed to surrender any firearm in your possession to a police officer

You may accept that you committed the offence, but you may disagree with part of what police say happened. In these circumstances, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to change the facts for sentencing.

Q.What will the court take into account when sentencing?

The court will consider the risk posed to public safety and whether the use of the firearm was connected to other criminal activity, as well as the surrounding circumstances.

The court will also take into account many other factors including your personal circumstances and criminal history.

Q.If I plead guilty or am found guilty, will a conviction be recorded?

It is likely that the court will record a conviction. The type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

Q.What does it mean to have a conviction recorded? 

A conviction is an entry on your criminal record (also called your antecedents). A conviction may pose a hurdle, or a bar, to current or future employment, travel, adoption, residency, applications for citizenship or your ability to attain or hold a certain licence.

Q.Will I go to gaol for failing to surrender a firearm?

Although there are many sentencing alternatives, it is unlikely that you will go to gaol if you plead guilty or are found guilty. Instead, it is far more likely that you will receive some combination of fines and/or non-custodial sentence.

The type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

It is important that a lawyer properly prepares and presents your case to minimise the risk of you going to gaol.

Q.What will happen to my firearms licence?

If you have been charged with this offence, it is likely that your firearm licence will be entirely cancelled and your capacity to get a licence in the further will be inhibited.

This means you likely be unable to use or possess firearms in the future.

Your firearms will remain with police until the suspension is lifted or your firearms licence is re-instated.

Q.Can I be charged if I was using an imitation firearm?     

Yes. Section 23A of the Firearms Act treats replica or imitation firearms in the same way as genuine firearms. You may be charged with this offence if you were using an imitation prohibited firearm and did not hold a permit.

Q.What is an imitation firearm? 

An imitation firearm is defined in section 23A of the Firearms Act as an object that, regardless of its colour, weight or composition or the presence or absence of any moveable parts, substantially duplicates in appearance a firearm but is not a firearm.

It does not include an object that is identified as a children’s toy.

Q.What is the difference between an imitation firearm and a children’s toy?

A children’s toy gun can be distinguished from an imitation firearm by its:

  • packaging
  • target sale market (for example whether it is sold in a toy store)
  • materials it is made from
  • general function and appearance

The onus is on the person charged with a firearms offence to prove that they were using or in possession of a children’s toy, rather than an imitation firearm.

Failing to Surrender Firearms when Licence Suspended or Cancelled

  1. Failing to surrender firearms when the license is suspended or cancelled is an offence under section 48 of the Firearms Act 1996 (ACT)
  2. This offence is a summary offence, meaning that it is dealt with in Magistrates Court.
  3. The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $8,000.00, imprisonment for 6 months or both.
  4. If you plead guilty, or are found guilty, a number of different sentences can be imposed. It is possible that a criminal conviction will be recorded. However, it is unlikely that you will be sentenced to full-time imprisonment.

If you have been charged with failing to surrender firearms when your licence is suspended or cancelled, the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. Your license is suspended or cancelled
  2. You intentionally or negligently failed to surrender any firearm in your possession

Facing charges for failing to surrender firearms can have serious legal consequences, including the permanent loss of your firearm license. It’s essential to have a competent criminal defence lawyer to protect your rights and provide a robust defence.

When must I surrender the firearm?

Subsection (b)(I) stipulates if the police officer is present and you are in possession of the firearm that you must surrender the firearm immediately. Alternatively, subsections (II) and (III) stipulate that the firearm must be otherwise surrendered as soon as possible after the day the person is given notice that their license has been suspended or cancelled or within the time stated in the notice if a longer time is stated in the notice.

What does ‘possess’ mean?

Under section 10 of the Firearms Act, a person has possession of a firearm if they:

  • Have the firearm on his or her person, including in something carried or worn
  • Has the firearm at premises owned, leaded, or occupied by the person
  • Otherwise has the care, control, or management of the firearm.

What is a ‘firearm’?

A firearm is defined in section 5 of the Firearms Act as “a gun, or other weapon, that is, or at any time was, capable of propelling a projectile by means of an explosive force, however caused”. It is deemed to include:

  • a gun
  • a blank fire firearm
  • an airgun
  • a paintball marker

Under Section 15 of the act, an adult is authorised to possess a paintball marker only when they do so with the knowledge and approval of the paintball range operator or employee and do are taking part in a paintball activity.

Under the act, particular people are exempt from the act. These include:

  • Police officers and Defence Force officials.
  • War Memorial Staff
  • Aircraft or ship captains
  • Officials or participants in particular sporting competitions

How does the court determine whether I acted intentionally?

For an act to have been intentional, you need to have decided to bring about an act of a particular kind or particular result. This is a question for the magistrate, who would consider all of the surrounding circumstances including what you did and said.

How does the court determine whether I acted negligently?

Section 21 of the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT) states that a person is deemed negligent if their conduct merits criminal punishment because it involves both “such a great falling short of the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the circumstances” and “such a high risk that the physical element exists or will exist”. Whether your conduct is deemed to have fallen within these elements is a question of fact for the magistrate, who would consider all of the surrounding circumstances.

What constitutes failing to surrender a firearm?

Put simply, failing to surrender a firearm means maintaining possession of and not handing over to police any firearm that you are no longer licensed to possess. Whether you failed to surrender a firearm is a question of fact for the magistrate, who would consider all of the surrounding circumstances, including what you did and said.

How will the court determine whether my licence was cancelled or suspended?

Whether your licence was cancelled or suspended at the time of the alleged offence is typically a matter of fact and is rarely contested. The magistrate would examine the evidence to determine whether or not, at the time of the alleged offence there was sufficient documentation and/or evidence to suggest that your license had been suspended. Usually, this will be in the form of a notice given to the license holder and will be relatively clear.

Should I plead guilty or not guilty to failing to surrender firearms when my license was suspended or cancelled?

This will depend on a number of factors including, for example:

  • whether you accept that your license was suspended or cancelled
  • whether you accept that you intentionally or negligently failed to surrender any firearm in your possession to a police officer

You may accept that you committed the offence, but you may disagree with part of what police say happened. In these circumstances, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to change the facts for sentencing.

Q. What will the court take into account when sentencing?

The court will take into account the risk that was posed to public safety and whether the use of the firearm was connected to other criminal activity, as well as the surrounding circumstances.

The court will also take into account many other factors including your personal circumstances and criminal history.

Q. If I plead guilty or am found guilty to failing to surrender firearms when my license was suspended or cancelled, will a conviction be recorded?

It is possible that the court will record a conviction. The type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

Q. What does it mean to have a conviction recorded?

A conviction is an entry on your criminal record (also referred to as your antecedents). A conviction may pose a hurdle, or a bar, to current or future employment, travel, adoption, residency, applications for citizenship or your ability to attain or hold a certain licence.

Q. Will I go to gaol for failing to surrender a firearm?

Although there are many sentencing alternatives, it is unlikely that you will go to gaol if you plead guilty or are found guilty. Instead, it is more likely that you will receive some combination of fines and/or non-custodial sentence.

The type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

Having a good lawyer can significantly reduce your chances of going to gaol by building a strong defence, presenting evidence and arguments that challenge the prosecution’s case, negotiating plea deals for lesser charges or more lenient sentences, highlighting mitigating factors such as your good character and lack of prior offences, and advocating for non-custodial sentences like fines, community service, or probation based on your specific circumstances.

Q. What will happen to my firearms licence?

If you have been charged with this offence, it is likely that your firearm licence will be entirely cancelled and your capacity to get a licence in the future will be inhibited. This means you may not be able to have a firearms licence again.

Your firearms will remain with police until the suspension is lifted or your firearms licence is re-instated.

Q. Can I be charged if I was using an imitation firearm? 

Yes. Section 23A of the Firearms Act treats replica or imitation firearms in the same way as genuine firearms. You may be charged with this offence if you were using an imitation prohibited firearm and did not hold a permit.

Q. What is an imitation firearm? 

An imitation firearm is defined in section 23A of the Firearms Act as an object that, regardless of its colour, weight or composition or the presence or absence of any moveable parts, substantially duplicates in appearance a firearm but is not a firearm.

It does not include an object that is identified as a children’s toy.

Q.What is the difference between an imitation firearm and a children’s toy?

A children’s toy gun can be distinguished from an imitation firearm by its:

  • packaging
  • target sale market (whether it is sold in a toy store)
  • materials it is made from
  • general function and appearance

The onus is on the person charged with a firearms offence to prove that they were using or in possession of a children’s toy, rather than an imitation firearm.

Unauthorised Possession of Ammunition

  1. Unauthorised possession of ammunition is an offence under section 249 of the Firearms Act 1996 (ACT).
  2. This offence is a summary offence, meaning that it is dealt with in the ACT Magistrates Court.
  3. The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $1,600.00.
  4. If you plead guilty, or are found guilty, a number of different sentences can be imposed. It is possible, but not incredibly likely that a criminal conviction will be recorded. It is not possible that you will be sentenced to a term of full-time imprisonment.

If you have been charged with the unauthorised possession of ammunition, the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. You possessed ammunition for a firearm.
  2. You were not authorised to by a licence or permit to possess or acquire the ammunition.

Your defence lawyer may challenge the prosecution’s evidence, identify procedural errors, or present mitigating factors that could influence the outcome of the case.

What does ‘possess’ mean?

Under section 10 of the Firearms Act, a person has possession of a firearm or ammunition if they:

  • Have the firearm or ammunition on his or her person, including in something carried or worn
  • Has the firearm or ammunition at premises owned, leaded, or occupied by the person
  • Otherwise has the care, control, or management of the firearm or ammunition.

What is a ‘firearm’?

A firearm is defined in section 5 of the Firearms Act as “a gun, or other weapon, that is, or at any time was, capable of propelling a projectile by means of an explosive force, however caused”. It is deemed to include:

  • a gun
  • a blank fire firearm
  • an airgun
  • a paintball marker

Under Section 15 of the act, an adult is authorised to possess a paintball marker only when they do so with the knowledge and approval of the paintball range operator or employee and do are taking part in a paintball activity.

Under the act, particular people are exempt from the act. These include:

  • Police officers and Defence Force officials.
  • War Memorial Staff
  • Aircraft or ship captains
  • Officials or participants in particular sporting competitions
  • the protection of property.

What is considered ammunition?

The Firearms Act 1996 (ACT) defines ammunition as including a cartridge case fitted with a primer and projectile, a cartridge case fitted with a primer that contains a propelling charge and projectile, blank cartridges, airgun pellets, training cartridges or gas cartridges, and anything else prescribed by regulation. For the purposes of this act, this definition excludes a paintball, or something prescribed by regulation not to be ammunition.

How will the court determine whether I am authorised by license or permit?

Whether at the time of the alleged offence you were authorised by a license or permit to possess the ammunition is a matter of fact and is rarely contested. The Magistrate would examine the evidence to determine whether or not at the time of the alleged offence you had a valid license and/or permit and whether said documentation had expired or otherwise been invalidated. This information can be easily obtained by the court.

Should I plead guilty or not guilty to unauthorised possession of ammunition?

This will depend on a number of factors including, for example:

  • whether you accept that you possessed ammunition
  • whether you were authorised by a licence or permit to possess or acquire the ammunition
  • whether you had a lawful justification for having the ammunition

You may accept that you committed the offence, but you may disagree with part of what police say happened. In these circumstances, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to change the police facts.

What are possible defences?

  • You may disagree that you possessed ammunition
  • You may argue that you were authorised by a licence or permit to possess or acquire the ammunition
  • You may argue that it had been less than 28 days after your licence or permit authorising the possession or acquisition of the ammunition was cancelled, suspended, surrendered or otherwise ended
  • You may argue that you have an approved reason for requiring a starting pistol and the ammunition is a blank cartridge for use in a starting pistol
  • You may argue that you have an approved reason for possessing the ammunition under 1 or more of the following sections:

(a)  section 136 (Temporary recognition of interstate licences—general)

(b)  section 137 (Temporary recognition of interstate category C licences)

(c)  section 138 (Interstate residents moving to ACT—category A, B, and paintball marker licences)

(d)  section 139 (Interstate residents moving to ACT—category C and H licences)

(e)  section 140 (Temporary recognition of interstate licences for international visitors—shooting or paintball competitions)

(f)  section 140A (Temporary recognition of interstate category D licences—vertebrate pest animal control)

Q. What will the court take into account when sentencing me to aunauthorised possession of ammunition?

The court will take into account the risk that was posed to public safety and whether the possession of ammunition was connected to other criminal activity, as well as the surrounding circumstances.

The court will also take into account many other factors including your personal circumstances and criminal history.

Q. If I plead guilty or am found guilty, will a conviction be recorded?

It is possible that the court will record a conviction. The type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

It is important that a lawyer properly prepares and presents your case to minimise the risk of a conviction being recorded.

Q. What does it mean to have a conviction recorded?

A conviction is an entry on your criminal record (also referred to as your antecedents). A conviction may pose a hurdle, or a bar, to current or future employment, travel, adoption, residency, applications for citizenship or your ability to attain or hold a certain licence.

Q. Will I go to gaol for unauthorised possession of ammunition?

The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $1,600.00. This means that it is very unlikely that you will go to gaol for this offence. The type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

Q. What will happen to my firearms licence?

If you have been charged with a firearms offence, you may find it difficult to obtain or renew a firearms licence in the future.

A good lawyer can help by challenging the charges and presenting a strong defense to avoid conviction. If a conviction is unavoidable, a lawyer can negotiate for lesser charges or penalties that may have less impact on your ability to retain or renew your firearms licence

Unauthorised Use or Possession of a Prohibited Firearm

  1. Unauthorised possession or use of a prohibited firearm is an offence under section 42 of the Firearms Act 1996 (ACT).
  2. Depending on the number of prohibited firearms possess, the offence will either be indictable, meaning it can be finalised in the ACT Magistrates Court or ACT Supreme Court, or is strictly indictable, which means it must be dealt with in the ACT Supreme Court.
  3. The maximum penalty for this offence is 20 years imprisonment for possession or use of 10 or more prohibited firearms. The maximum penalty for the possession or use of 3-10 firearms is 14 years imprisonment, whilst the maximum penalty for possessing or using 1 or 2 firearms is 10 years imprisonment.
  4. If you plead guilty, or are found guilty, a number of different sentences can be imposed. It is almost certain that a criminal conviction will be recorded, and it is likely that you will be sentenced to full-time imprisonment.

If you have been charged with the unauthorised use or possession of prohibited firearms, the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. You possessed or used a firearm.
  2. The firearm was prohibited.
  3. You did not possess the requisite license or permit to use or possess the firearm.

What does ‘use’ mean?

Your criminal defence team is critical in ensuring you fully understand legal terminology.

To be held that you ‘used’ a firearm under the act, it must be proved that you fired the firearm or held it so as to cause a reasonable belief that the firearm is capable of being fired. For the purposes of the act, it does not matter whether the firearm is actually capable of being fired. For example, pointing an unloaded gun at someone who may reasonably believe that it is loaded would constitute ‘use’.

What does ‘possess’ mean?

Under section 10 of the Firearms Act, a person has possession of a firearm if they:

  • Have the firearm on his or her person, including in something carried or worn
  • Has the firearm at premises owned, leaded, or occupied by the person
  • Otherwise has the care, control, or management of the firearm.

What is a ‘firearm’?

A firearm is defined in section 5 of the Firearms Act as “a gun, or other weapon, that is, or at any time was, capable of propelling a projectile by means of an explosive force, however caused”. It is deemed to include:

  • a gun
  • a blank fire firearm
  • an airgun
  • a paintball marker

Under Section 15 of the act, an adult is authorised to possess a paintball marker only when they do so with the knowledge and approval of the paintball range operator or employee and are taking part in a paintball activity.

Under the act, particular people are exempt from the act. These include:

  • Police officers and Defence Force officials.
  • War Memorial Staff
  • Aircraft or ship captains
  • Officials or participants in particular sporting competitions

What is a prohibited firearm?

The complete list of firearms prohibited in the ACT can be found in Schedule 1 of the Firearms Act. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Machine guns
  • Shotguns
  • Paintball markers
  • Any firearm with a suppressor
  • A cannon
  • A pistol exceeding 9.65mm calibre
  • self-loading rimfire and centre-fire rifles

Under Section 7, prohibited firearms includes modified firearms. If you are facing charges related to the possession or use of any prohibited firearm, it is crucial to seek expert legal assistance.

What is a ‘genuine reason’ for having a firearms licence?

In the ACT a person will not be issued a firearms licence unless they have a genuine reason for using a firearm.

Section 61 of the Firearms Act sets out the list of genuine reasons, which includes:

  • sport / target shooting
  • recreational hunting / vermin control
  • vertebrate pest animal control
  • business or employment
  • occupational requirements relating to rural purposes
  • animal welfare
  • firearms/heirloom collection.
  • Paintball activity

Under section 62, a genuine reason does not include personal protection, protection of another, or for the protection of property.

What is meant by firearms licence conditions?

Every firearms licence in the ACT is subject to a number of mandatory conditions, such as storage, safekeeping, and use of the firearm.

Your licence may also be subject to additional conditions.

Should I plead guilty or not guilty unauthorised use or possession of a prohibited firearm?

This will depend on a number of factors including, for example:

  • whether you accept that you used or possessed a prohibited firearm or firearms
  • whether the firearm was prohibited
  • whether you hold a firearms licence or permit
  • whether you were using the firearm for a genuine reason
  • whether you contravened a condition of your firearms licence.

You may accept that you committed the offence, but you may disagree with part of what police say happened. In these circumstances, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to change the police facts.

Q. What will the court take into account when sentencing?

The court will take into account the risk that was posed to public safety and whether the use of the firearm was connected to other criminal activity, as well as the surrounding circumstances.

The court will also consider many other factors, including your personal circumstances and criminal history.

Q. If I plead guilty or am found guilty of unauthorised use or possession of a prohibited firearm, will a conviction be recorded?

It is very likely that the court will record a conviction. The type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors. A strong criminal defence case could result in a more favourable outcome, such as a reduced sentence or a non-custodial penalty.

Q. What does it mean to have a conviction recorded?

A conviction is an entry on your criminal record (also referred to as your antecedents). A conviction may pose a hurdle, or a bar, to current or future employment, travel, adoption, residency, applications for citizenship or your ability to attain or hold a certain licence.

Q. Will I go to gaol for unauthorised use of a pistol or prohibited firearm?

Although there are many sentencing alternatives, it is possible that you will go to gaol if you plead guilty or are found guilty. The type of sentence you receive will depend on the facts of your case, your personal circumstances, criminal history and many other factors.

Q. What if I was using the prohibited firearm or pistol for personal protection?

The fact that you used the prohibited firearm for personal protection will not assist you unless it is accepted that you were acting in self-defence or defence of another. Courts have repeatedly emphasised that people should not take the law into their own hands.

Q. What will happen to my firearms licence?

If you have been charged with a firearms offence, your firearms licence may be suspended or revoked. This means you will no longer be authorised to use or possess firearms.

Your firearms will remain with police until the suspension is lifted or your firearms licence is re-instated.

Q. Can I be charged if I was using an imitation firearm?

Yes. section 23A of the Firearms Act treats replica or imitation firearms in the same way as genuine firearms. You may be charged with this offence if you were using an imitation prohibited firearm and did not hold a permit.

Q. What is an imitation firearm?

An imitation firearm is defined in section 23A of the Firearms Act as an object that, regardless of its colour, weight or composition or the presence or absence of any moveable parts, substantially duplicates in appearance a firearm but is not a firearm.

It does not include an object that is identified as a children’s toy.

Q. What is the difference between an imitation firearm and a children’s toy?

A children’s toy gun can be distinguished from an imitation firearm by its:

  • packaging
  • target sale market (whether it is sold in a toy store)
  • materials it is made from
  • general function and appearance

The onus is on the person charged with a firearms offence to prove that they were using or in possession of a children’s toy, rather than an imitation firearm.

Why Choose Hugo Law Group to Defend You

Hugo Law Group is a law firm that is focused on protecting and defending your rights. Drawing on decades of experience, our team of criminal lawyers will guide you through the legal process, providing comprehensive, honest and strategic advice – qualities that give us our renowned reputation.

Whether you want to plead not guilty, you are looking to secure the best possible sentence, or a loved one wants to apply for bail, it is essential to have an experienced team of criminal defence lawyers in your corner.

Seeking comprehensive and practical advice at an early stage will best ensure your rights and interests are protected. Our lawyers will properly prepare and present your case to assist you in getting the best possible outcome.

Contact

At Hugo Law Group, we will clearly explain what your rights and obligations are so that you can make informed decisions about how to deal with the police and the court process.

Even if you have not yet been charged with a criminal offence, you should seek advice from a lawyer at an early stage to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

Hugo Law Group is the market leader in criminal defence law, providing exceptional representation to people facing serious criminal charges.

As leaders in criminal defence, we know that every story has two sides. We defend yours.

Get in contact with us today or feel free to call us at 02 9696 1361 (Sydney), 02 5104 9640 (Canberra), or 08 6255 6909 (Perth) and find out how we can help you.