If you are arrested for a firearms offence, getting access to the right legal representation at the earliest possible stage can prove vital, putting you in a much stronger position to offer a robust defence to any charges that may subsequently be brought against you. The Criminal Defence Team at Wilford Smith takes a proactive approach, providing you with the highest quality advice to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.
With many years experience representing clients in relation to firearms offences, we will ensure that investigations and police interviews are carried out in a proper and fair manner. By contacting one of our specialist Criminal Defence Solicitors you can be sure that you will be kept fully informed. Our team will explain to you the various stages of the investigation and how the matter will progress, and will provide you with the highest quality legal advice in respect of the options available to you at each stage. If you find yourself charged with a firearms offence, call us immediately to find out how we can help.
What does the law consider a “firearm”?
Section 57(1) of the Firearms Act 1968 defines a firearm as “a lethal barrelled weapon of any description from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged”. The legislation also covers the individual component parts of such a weapon, and any accessories that are designed to adapt or reduce the noise that a weapon would otherwise make when fired.
Section 1 of the Firearms Act states that it is an offence to possess a firearm, some kinds of air weapon, and certain types of ammunition without a certificate. If you are found to be in possession of any of these items, all that is required for a successful conviction is proof that you knew you had something in your possession – it is not a requirement that you knew the item was a firearm.
Beyond mere possession, the 1968 Act details a wide range of offences involving the use of firearms, which may lead to the courts dealing with a case more harshly. These include:
Section 16 – Possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. This offence is not dependent on harm being caused to another person, charges can be brought if there is intent. This offence also includes the intention to cause damage to property.
Section 16A – Possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. Similarly, this offence does not require that there is actually fear of violence; the intent to cause fear is sufficient.
Section 21 – Possession of firearms by persons previously convicted of a crime. It is an offence for people who have been sentenced to a prison term of three years or more to carry a firearm. Those who have served a shorter sentence will in many cases be prevented from having a firearm or ammunition in their possession for five years following their release.
What is the five-year mandatory minimum sentence?
Anyone found guilty of being in possession of a weapon of the type set out in Section 5 of the Firearms Act, that is weapons subject to general prohibition, will be subject to a mandatory five year custodial sentence. A mandatory three-year sentence applies to those who have been convicted and are aged 16 or 17 years. The weapons contained in Section 5 include handguns, short-barrelled rifles and self-loading shotguns. If you are convicted of possessing one of these firearms you will not be eligible for a reduced sentence following a guilty plea, with judges only departing from the mandatory sentencing in “exceptional circumstances”.
Contact our Firearms Offences Solicitors London, Sheffield and Manchester
Wilford Smith's experiencedCriminal Defence Solicitors are committed to providing a high-level service to our clients. If you are suspected of committing a firearms offence, you need to make the right decisions from the earliest stage of any investigation. Our team of solicitors appears in court regularly, providing representation from the first hearing through to trial. We take pride in our reputation for unique representation, giving our clients a service that is exceptionally strategic and results driven, and can attract the highest calibre barristers to provide support when necessary.
Our Criminal Defence Solicitors are based in London, Sheffield and Manchester and serve clients throughout England and Wales. Contact us today on 01709 828 044 to find out how we can help.