What Constitutes and Offensive Weapon?
Having possession of an offensive weapon in a public place is an offence contrary to Section 1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953. Such a charge would usually succeed unless the accused proves that they either had lawful authority to possess the weapon or a reasonable excuse.
What will the Crown Prosecution Service consider when deciding to charge someone with an Offence involving an Offensive Weapon?
An offensive weapon is defined as 'any article made or adapted for use to causing injury to the person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use.'
An offense involving an offensive weapon, must fall into one of three categories:
1) An individual could be charged with having an offensive weapon in a public place.
2) An individual could be charged with having something adapted to cause injury.
3) An individual could be charged with having something that is not necessarily offensive, or adapted, but is intended to be used to cause injury.
Where the article in question falls into categories 1) or 2), the prosecution are not required to prove that the accused also intended to use it to cause injury. However,
if the article falls under category 3) the prosecution must prove that the accused had intent to cause injury.The Prosecution will, in all cases, be required to prove possession of the article in a public place.
*How can a Solicitor Assist?
Given the nature of this offence and the right of an individual to legal representation, it is advisable that one seeks a solicitor as early on as possible, preferably from the point of arrest. One would require the assistance of a criminal defence solicitor.
At ULA Solicitors we are dedicated to providing the best advice to you in order to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome. This may be to advise at the police station which reduces the chances of you further incriminating yourself, or the advice of pleading guilty early in order to allow for a 25% reduction in sentence, or getting you an experienced barrister to ensure that you have the best chance if your matter was to proceed to trial. We will always listen to our client's instructions and act in accordance with these and their best interests.
As with other criminal law matters the government provides funding by way of legal aid. This is the same in the instance where the individual is charged in relation to offensive weapons. Again, the individual would have to qualify for legal aid on two grounds. Firstly, their disposable income must be below a certain amount; secondly, it must be in the interests of justice that they be represented. With such offences, as they carry lengthy custodial sentences the individual would most definitely satisfy the latter criterion.