Possessing, Using, or Carrying an Unregistered Handgun
Police InterviewPolice will want to interview you in relation to this charge. It is important to seek legal advice before engaging in an interview and discussing the pros and cons of providing police with any information. We regularly advise clients on how to approach police interviews and, where relevant, can advise you on where it may be beneficial to provide some information to police. If you think this applies to you, get in touch with one of our lawyers today.
Pleading Not GuiltyIf you believe you have been incorrectly charged with this offence then you should seek legal advice as soon as possible on what your options are. We regularly provide detailed analysis to our clients on how to contest charges and can assist you if that is what you require.
Pleading GuiltyIt is wise to seek legal advice and representation where you decide to plead guilty to this charge. You are at risk of receiving a term of imprisonment with this offence. We can assist you in putting your best case forward for a sentencing judge or magistrate. This is particularly important where you think you are at risk of imprisonment.
SentencingSentencing in the higher courts of VictoriaSentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria
Examples of Possessing, Using, or Carrying an Unregistered Handgun
- You have an unregistered handgun hidden in your bedroom closet. The police raid your house and find the gun.
What is the legal definition of Possessing, Using, or Carrying an Unregistered Handgun?A person must not possess, carry or use a general category handgun that is not registered, including a category E handgun.
LegislationThe relevant legislation for this offence is section 7B of the Firearms Act 1996.
- The accused possessed a handgun; and
- The handgun was not registered.
Possession is not defined in the Act and takes the form of the common law definition. Common law possession involves the physical control with an intent to possess.
In determining whether or not the accused intended to possess a handgun, a jury or Magistrate, depending on the circumstances, will need to decide if they can draw an inference from all of the evidence in the case that the accused had this intention.The prosecution does not need to prove that the accused intended to possess the particular hand gun in question. The intention may be general and a person may be in possession of a thing without necessarily knowing the nature of the thing, but it is essential that there at least be an intent to possess the thing irrespective of its nature.3
Further, intention can be shown in a variety of ways including admission by the Accused. It is also possible to infer an intention to possess a handgun from proof that the accused knew of the existence and nature of the item possessed.4
In terms of carrying or use of an unregistered handgun, possession is an easier element to satisfy (as with all gun possession charges) on the basis that the item is physically on the person.
The handgun was not registered
The handgun alleged to have been in the accused’s possession is not registered with the relevant authority, namely the Victoria Police Licensing and Regulation Division.
“Was your handgun registered?”
 Kaw Teh v R (1985) 157 CLR 523.
 R v Maio  VR 281; R v Mateiasevici  VSCA 120.
 Above n 1.
 Above n 1.
Questions in cases like this
- Is the item a handgun?
- Is the handgun unregistered?
- Is the handgun in your possession? Are you using or carrying the handgun?
- Is the item a ‘category E’ handgun?
For a first offence of Possessing, Using, or Carrying an Unregistered Handgun (section 7B of the Firearms Act 1996), the maximum penalty is 600 penalty units or 7 years imprisonment.
For a second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is 1200 penalty units or 10 years imprisonment.5
If the handgun is a category E handgun, the maximum penalty is 1800 penalty units or 14 years imprisonment for a first offence, and 2100 penalty units or 17 years imprisonment for a second or subsequent offence.6
 Firearms Act 1996, Section 7B(1).
 Firearms Act 1996, Section 7B(2).
Other important resources
- SACStat Higher Courts – Firearms Act 1996 (Vic): s 7B(1) – possess, carry or use an unregistered general category handgun
- SACStat Higher Courts – Firearms Act 1996 (Vic): s 7B(2) – possess, carry or use an unregistered category E handgun
- SAC Statistics – Firearms Act 1996 (Vic): s 7B(1) – possess, carry or use general category unregistered handgun
- VCC summaries – firearms offences: Sentencing decisions from 1 January 2016 to 31 May 2018, arranged by severity of total effective sentence