Control of Use of Dangerous Articles

– section 7 of the Control of Weapons Act 1990

control of use of dangerous articles
This charge is usually laid when someone is carrying a ‘dangerous article’ (for example, a knife) in public without a lawful excuse.

Examples of Control or Use of Dangerous Articles
  • Our client was arrested for assault, and the police found a box-cutter in his pocket. He didn’t have a lawful excuse for the boxcutter – for instance, he didn’t use it as part of his employment. Police charged him with possession of a dangerous article.
Questions in cases like this
  • Is the item actually a dangerous article? Is it an item which has been adapted or modified so as to be capable of being used as a weapon?
  • Were you carrying the item with the intention of using it as a weapon?
  • Were you carrying the item in a public place or on a licensed premises?
What are some possible defences?
  • The item in your possession was not a dangerous article
  • You had a lawful excuse for carrying the item

 

“Did you have a lawful excuse for the dangerous article?”

 

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with the charge

The maximum penalty for this offence is 60 penalty units or imprisonment for 6 months if the offence was committed in a public place, and 120 penalty units or imprisonment for 1 year if the offence was committed in a licensed premises. It is an indictable offence but it may be heard summarily.

What is the legal definition of Control of Use of Dangerous Articles?

A person is in a public place or a licensed premises and possesses an article capable of being used as a weapon without a lawful excuse.
 

Legislation

The section that covers this offence is section 7 of the Control of Weapons Act 1990.

Elements of the offence

For an accused to be found guilty, the prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  • The accused possessed or carry a dangerous article in a public place; or
  • The accused possessed or carry a dangerous article in licensed premises or in a public place that is in the immediate vicinity of licensed premises; and
  • The accused was without lawful excuse from doing so.

‘Dangerous article’ is defined as:

  • an article which has been adapted or modified so as to be capable of being used as a weapon; or
  • any other article which is carried with the intention of being used as a weapon
Sentencing in the higher courts

From 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2018, there were 21 charges of Control Of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic) s 7(1) – Possess or Carry a Dangerous Article in a Public Place that were heard in the higher courts of Victoria. Majority of these charges resulted in imprisonment (66.7%) but Community Correction Orders (23.8%) were also imposed along with Fines (4.8%) and Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal (4.8%). Of the charges that led to imprisonment, 57.1% were sentenced to less than a year.1

Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts

In the Magistrates’ Courts, there were a total of 1,683 cases (1,842 charges) of Control Of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic) s 7(1) – Possess or Carry a Dangerous Article that were heard from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016. They resulted in the following sentences:

  • Imprisonment – 27.9 %
  • Fine – 27.1 %
  • Community Correction Order – 24.7 %
  • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal – 11.5 %
  • Wholly Suspended Sentence – 5.4 %
  • Partially Suspended Sentence – 2.3 %
  • Other – 0.7 %
  • Youth Justice Centre Order – 0.5 %

ImprisonmentOf the cases that resulted in imprisonment, majority were sentenced to a term that was less than 3 months (30.0%). The longest term imposed was more than 3 years but this was least imposed at only 0.9% of the cases that led to prison terms.

For the fines, majority fell under the $500 < $1,000 category (29.5%, aggregate). The highest fine imposed was $20,000 or more but this was applied in only 0.2% of the cases (aggregate).2

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.3

Other important resources

 



[1] Sentencing Advisory Council. “SACStat Higher Courts – Control Of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic): s 7(1) – possess or carry a dangerous article in a public place.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/higher_courts/HC_90_24_7_1.html (accessed August 26, 2019).
[2] Sentencing Advisory Council. “SAC Statistics – Control Of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic): s 7(1) – possess or carry a dangerous article.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/90_24_7_1.html (accessed August 26, 2019).
[3] Sentencing Advisory Council. “Abolished Sentencing Orders.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/abolished-sentencing-orders (accessed August 26, 2019).