Possess Cartridge Ammunition

Possess Cartridge Ammunition

The offence of Possess Cartridge Ammunition is found in section 124(1) of the Firearms Act 1996. It is a criminal offence that is committed by a person who was found to be in possession of cartridge ammunition despite not being licensed to do so.

Have you been accused of Possess Cartridge Ammunition?

Police Interview
You have the choice of making a comment or a no comment interview with Police. You should speak with one of our lawyers before you speak with Police. We can advise you on the best course of action for your particular circumstances in a Police interview. The interview is a chance for the Police to elicit information from you and try and get you to make admissions. This will later be used in evidence against you. There is no obligation to speak to Police apart from answering the initial identification questions. You should be polite and friendly but do not provide the Police with information they can use against you.

Pleading Not Guilty
It is the Prosecutions role to prove the charges against you beyond reasonable doubt. You are innocent until proven guilty. Perhaps you have a reasonable explanation for why you were in possession of the ammunition or the items were not yours at all. Our lawyers are experts in firearms offences. We can help you fight your case. We regularly appear at contested hearings and know what does and does not work in Court to help you secure a not-guilty verdict.

Pleading Guilty
If you are pleading guilty you want to get the fairest and most lenient sentence possible. Our lawyers are expert plea makers. We will tell your personal story to the Court so that they know they are sentencing an interesting, complicated human being, not just a criminal. We can negotiate with Police to ensure that the fairest charges are presented to the Court.
As a summary offence, any summons for this charge will primarily be handled by the Magistrates’ Court.
 
Examples of Possess Cartridge Ammunition
  • You used to go hunting with your friends and still have some cartridge ammunition in your bedroom, despite not having a licence or a permit. The police execute a search warrant on your house and find the cartridge ammunition.
Elements of the offence
The prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. The item in question is cartridge ammunition; and
  2. The accused possessed the cartridge ammunition in question.
Was the item cartridge ammunition?
According to section 3 of the Firearms Act 1996, ‘cartridge ammunition’ means ammunition having a bullet or other projectile and a priming device fixed to or enclosed in a cartridge case which is composed wholly or partly of material other than paper.

Did the accused possess the cartridge ammunition?
Whether or not the accused was in possession of the cartridge ammunition will depend on the circumstances. The prosecution may be able to point to ‘constructive’ possession if the item was found in the accused’s handbag or their bedroom – it does not have to be on the accused’s person.

Legislation
The legislation for this offence can be found on section 124(1) of the Firearms Act 1996.
 
Criminal defences that are available are honest and reasonable mistake of belief, necessity, sudden or extraordinary emergency and incorrect factual matrix.

Questions in cases like this
  • Was the cartridge ammunition actually in your ‘possession’?
  • Do you in fact have a permit of licence?
The decision on whether to plead guilty or not guilty to this charge can best be made only after a careful study of the strengths of your case. Contact a criminal lawyer to assess the factors in your case.
 

The offence of Possess Cartridge Ammunition (section 124(1) of the Firearms Act 1996) carries a fine of 40 penalty units (around $6500) as the highest possible sentence.

Sentencing in the higher courts
There were a total of 182 charges of Possess Cartridge Ammunition that were heard in Victorian higher courts from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2016. Most of these charges resulted in fines (71.4%) but there were also other sentences imposed:

  • Community Correction Order – 10.4%
  • Imprisonment – 8.2%
  • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal – 8.2%
  • Wholly Suspended Sentence – 1.1%
  • Youth Justice Centre Order – 0.6%
Of those who were sentenced to prison, 73.3% received a term that was less than a year. Of those who were sentenced to a fine, 83.1% were sentenced to an amount that is less than $1,000. This amount was also the most frequently imposed.

The highest fine imposed was however between $2,000 and $5,000 and was applied in 2.3% of the charges that resulted in fines.1

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in the higher courts earlier than that of the Magistrates’ Court, and therefore all offences committed on or after 1 September 2013 will not have this available as a sentencing option.2

Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts
In the Magistrates’ Courts, a total of 2,051 cases (2,236 charges) of Possess Cartridge Ammunition were heard from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016. Imprisonment (36.5%) was imposed in the majority of these cases but others were also sentenced to the following:

  • Community Correction Order – 26.4%
  • Fine – 22.4%
  • Wholly Suspended Sentence – 6.2%
  • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal – 4.7%
  • Partially Suspended Sentence – 2.5%
  • Other – 0.7%
  • Youth Justice Centre Order – 0.6%
The longest prison term imposed was for 36+ months and this was true in 1.5% of the cases that resulted in imprisonment. The term most frequently imposed was between 3 and 6 months and was applied in 26.7% of the cases that led to imprisonment.

In terms of fines, the majority were sentenced to an amount between $1,000 and $2,000 (27.9% for aggregate) as well as less than $500 (13.8% for non-aggregate). The highest amount imposed was $20,000 or more (0.1% for aggregate).3

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.4


[1] SACStat Higher Courts – Firearms Act 1996 (Vic) : s 124(1) – possess cartridge ammunition < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/higher_courts/HC_96_66_124_1.html >
[2] Suspended Sentence | The Sentencing Advisory Council < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/sentencing-options-for-adults/suspended-sentence >
[3] SAC Statistics – Firearms Act 1996 (Vic) : s 124(1) – possess cartridge ammunition < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/96_66_124_1.html >
[4] Suspended Sentence | The Sentencing Advisory Council < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/sentencing-options-for-adults/suspended-sentence >