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Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Firearms Offences Firearms Offences and Penalties In Western Australia (WA)

Firearms Offences and Penalties In Western Australia (WA)

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Australian National Character Check (ANCC) makes every effort to provide updated and accurate information to its customers. However due to the continuously changing nature of legislations for the Commonwealth and various States and Territories, it is inevitable that some information may not be up to date. The information on the website is general information only. The contents on the website do not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, suitability, accuracy or availability with respect to the information.

The Firearms Act 1973 (WA) and the Firearms Regulations 1974 (WA) control the usage of firearms in Western Australia (WA).

The Firearms Act 1973 (WA) defines several offences, including the misuse, illegal ownership, and improper storage of firearms. If you do not follow its terms, the police may confiscate your weapons and you may be prosecuted for firearms offences. Your weapons license might be revoked as well.

If an individual is convicted in a Western Australian court for a firearms offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a Western Australian Criminal History Check result.

General Offences Involving Firearms

Several general weapons offences are included in Section 23 of the Firearms Act 1973 (WA).

These are some of the offences:

  • Permitting a drug or alcohol-affected person or a person of unsound mind to carry a firearm is a crime . The maximum penalty for this act is a $6,000 fine or 18 months imprisonment;
  • Possessing a weapon while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is outlawed. If the weapon is a gun and is loaded, the maximum penalty is two years in jail or an $8,000 fine; otherwise, the maximum penalty is one and a half years in prison or a $6,000 fine.
  • If the act was a handgun defacing or modifying an identifying mark, it carries a fine of seven years in jail. If you had modified the weapon in a prescribed manner but illegally, the offence attracts four years in prison or a fine of $16,000.
  • Anyone possessing a weapon with a damaged or changed identifying mark risks a maximum penalty of seven years in jail.
  • Tampering with a weapon or owning one that has been tampered with is also an offence .
  • possession or use of a silencer is a crime that attracts a maximum sentence of seven years in jail.
  • Pointing a weapon at someone is an offence that can lead to the maximum penalty of three years in jail or a $12,000 fine.
  • Failure to take adequate steps to secure the safety of a weapon is also an offence , whose punishment is a maximum of $2,000 fine for a first offence, $4,000 fine or one-year imprisonment for repeat offences.
  • Allowing a minor to have unauthorized possession of a handgun attracts a maximum penalty of $2,000 fine for first offence, or $4,000 fine or a year in jail for subsequent offences.
  • Discharging a weapon into, from, or across a roadway attracts a maximum penalty of $2,000 fine for a first offence, $4,000 penalty or a year in jail for second or subsequent offences).
  • Failure to have and employ proper weapon storage methods is also against the law .
  • Refusing to allow authorities to check the firearm storage facility is also against the law.
  • Discharging a firearm in a manner that puts the public at risk carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail or a $12,000 fine.
  • Unauthorised use of a firearm on another person's property attracts a maximum punishment of a $2,000 fine.

Fines and jail terms are often imposed for the inappropriate use, ownership, and storage of a firearm or weapon. On the other hand, these accusations often pertain to items you would not have considered weapons, such as a knife or a shattered bottle.

Licensing Infractions

Possessing, purchasing, selling, or carrying guns without a license is illegal. In situations involving the unlawful sale of more than three guns, a conviction for this crime may result in a sentence of up to 14 years in jail as per Section 19 of the Firearms Act 1973 (WA).

However, possessing, purchasing, selling, or carrying guns while holding a firearms license that has expired but is renewable is a minor offence and is punished by a fine of up to $2000.

Storage Of Firearms Offences

A person with a firearms licence must guarantee that all weapons are kept per Schedule four of the Firearms Regulations 1974 (WA). The Schedule mandates that weapons be kept in a steel cabinet that is not less than 2mm thick, lockable, and fastened to two or more fixed objects from the inside.

It is illegal for a person in charge of a weapon to fail to provide and utilize suitable storage facilities or to conform to security standards for the storage of a firearm, according to Section 23(9) of the Firearms Act 1973 (WA). A $2,000 is the maximum punishment for a first offence, and a fine of $4,000 or a year in jail is the jail term for a second or subsequent offence.

Infringements Involving Firearms

The police may use a Weapons Infringement to prosecute the broad firearms offences outlined above. It implies that you will be fined on the spot by the cops. You will not have to appear in court and have a criminal record if you pay the total amount of the penalty on time. Thus, the police have the option to issue a Firearms Infringement or take the offender to court.

If you get a Firearms Infringement and do not feel you are liable for the offence, you may ask Licensing Services to have the case heard by a court.

Possible Court outcomes for possession of prohibited weapons in Australia

In Western Australia, illegally possessing prohibited guns may result in a variety of penalties.

  1. Imprisonment

A person who the court finds guilty of possessing a prohibited weapon or arranges for prohibited weapons to be brought into the state of WA or manufactures, sells, or supplies a prohibited weapon is guilty of this offence. If found guilty of this crime, a person is liable to imprisonment for up to 3 years.

  1. Fine

Anybody who is found to have a restricted or banned weapon in Western Australia may be placed with heavy fines.

  1. Suspended sentence

If the offence is a first offence and minor, the court may pass a guilty verdict but postpone the sentence.

A suspended sentence does not go into effect immediately. If you get a suspended sentence, you don't have to go to jail and may go back to your community. If you break a suspended sentence, you will be sent to jail to serve it.

Among the conditions for suspending the offence are:

  • a) Supervision - The offender will be closely observed and counselled regularly. The police will decide how frequently the offender reports. It may be once a week or more regularly.
  • b) Program – The court's purpose in ordering the offender to attend a treatment program is to guarantee that the offender's antisocial behaviour is curtailed via proper specialized therapy and evaluation. It might be for drug addiction treatment or a program for education, professional advancement, or personal development. The court may even require the offender to relocate to another place to finish the program.
  • c) Curfew - The court may order a curfew for up to half a year to limit criminals' mobility when re-offending is likely. It lasts between two and twelve hours every day, and offenders are subject to electronic surveillance by a community correctional officer.

  1. Community-based orders

A community-based order allows criminals to curtail criminal behaviour.

It allows courts to manage criminals in the community. Not all offences warrant incarceration to safeguard the community.

A community-based order may include a mandate to complete community service, allowing offenders to serve the community while helping themselves. Department officials manage the order.

With a community-based order, offenders may remain with their families, keep their employment, or search for work. It implies they can live as normally as possible while adhering to the court order.

A community-based order may require between 40 and 120 hours of community service. You must work a minimum of 12 hours per week. An offender may be obliged to work with an organisation or join a group of other offenders working on outdoor community projects.

Any violation of a community-based order will result in a "breach report" and a re-trial. Offenders may be re-sentenced for their initial offences and lose their community-based alternative. Any other offences will be prosecuted and may result in a punishment.

The court may release offenders with or without a surety. Sureties promise or deposit money with the court to ensure the criminal does not re-offend.

Possible Defences to a Firearms Offence

Generally, this allegation is defended by denying some part of the offence. Among them are:

  • None of the accused's weapons was regulated.
  • The accused had a valid reason to own, carry, or use the restricted weapon.

However, possession, carry, or use of restricted firearms for self-defence is not a defence.

Will a Firearms Offence show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

If an individual is found guilty of a firearms offence , the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

Individuals can obtain a police check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

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