Firearms & Offensive Weapons
“They’re absolutely at the top of their game and would be my first port of call for general crime work.”
Over the past two decades, firearms legislation in the UK has become among the most restrictive in the world. The penalties for unlawfully possessing a firearm or an imitation firearm can be severe. Anyone possessing a firearm must be licensed to do so, and must be in possession of an authorising certificate from the police, the licensing authority for firearm and shotgun certificates.
The police may also revoke certificates and seize any firearm held under the authorising certificate if they do not consider the holder to be fit to own a firearm, or if they do not consider the holder to have a good reason to own a firearm. Lack of fitness to own a firearm is the most common reason for revocation, yet this can happen in circumstances where in fact there is no good ground for revoking the certificate. These include where a certificate-holder has been accused of an offence, yet no charges were ever brought, or where the police otherwise receive information from a third party.
At BCL, we assist clients who have had their certificates revoked and/or firearms seized, often by making robust representations to the police in relation to our client’s fitness to hold a firearms or shotgun certificate, where appropriate, while in parallel, we appeal the revocation of the certificate to the Crown Court. In preparation for the appeal, we gather a wide body of evidence relating to our client’s character, how the firearms held under the certificate were being used (if at all), and demonstrating good reason for ownership of the firearms under the certificate.
We also act for those accused of unlawfully possessing firearms and/or ammunition, which may for instance be antique firearms and family heirlooms. The reasons for being in possession of a firearm can vary greatly, and how a case is presented can make a substantial difference at trial and/or at sentence.
Possession of an offensive weapon or a knife in a public place is a serious offence; a second conviction for which means a substantial prison sentence is mandatory. Significantly, any object in someone’s possession in a public place is capable of being classified as an offensive weapon, if the person possessing it intended that they or another person would or did use it to cause injury to another person. Often, whether or not an object is an offensive weapon will depend on a number of factors, and will ultimately be a matter of interpretation.
BCL acts for those facing allegations of being in possession of an offensive weapon or a knife, from representation at the police station through to trial. It is effectively for the person in possession of what is suspected to be an offensive weapon or a knife to demonstrate that they have good reason for so doing. The most effective time for putting forward an explanation will often be at the police interview under caution. If charges are brought, representations can be made to the Crown Prosecution Service setting out why the possession was lawful. It is important to obtain timely advice, as the consequences of conviction often include a custodial sentence.
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