What constitutes a firearm offence?
Firearms are defined by the Firearms 1968 Act as "a lethal barrel weapon of any description from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged".
Firearm offences include:
1) Possession of Firearms by Adults
Possession of a firearm without a valid certificate is a criminal offence. If tried in the magistrates court it carries a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment/maximum fine. If tried in the Crown Court the offence carries a maximum sentence of 7 years imprisonment/£5000 fine.
2) Criminal Use of Firearms
The Firearms Act 1968 covers the possession of a firearm or imitation firearm with the following intentions:
- To endanger the life of someone else (maximum sentence 10 years imprisonment);
- To cause the victim to fear violence (maximum sentence life imprisonment);
- To resist lawful arrest or prevent the lawful arrest of another person (life imprisonment);
- To commit an indictable offence (life imprisonment).
Possessing a firearm (loaded or unloaded) along with ammunition and entering a public place without lawful authority or reasonable justification is also classed as a criminal use of firearms and carries a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment.Sentencing varies depending on the type of weapon involved, previous convictions of the accused and a variety of other aggravating and mitigating factors. Some firearm offences carry a minimum penalty due to their potential impact and the danger they pose. These offences are commonly dealt with in the Crown Court due to their serious nature.