Have you been accused of Possessing an Unregistered Longarm?
Before you speak with police, we recommend that you obtain legal advice from one of our lawyers. We can assist you developing a strategy in relation to your interview and help guide you through common mistakes. Some frequently asked questions we can assist with include:
- Should I make a statement to Police?
- Should I attend a Police interview?
- Do I need to give my DNA?
- Will the Police leave me alone if I explain my side of the story?
- Will I be remanded?
If the Police want to speak with you about an allegation of Possessing an Unregistered Longarm, speak with one of our experienced lawyers before you are interviewed. If you make mistakes in the interview, it may be difficult for you to run your defence later on in court. It is worth remembering that police officers are trained investigators and know how to ask questions in a way to create inconsistencies in your version of events.
One of our experienced criminal lawyers can attend the Police station with you if you feel more comfortable having someone on your side.
Pleading Not Guilty
Our lawyers have assisted clients face charges of Possessing an Unregistered Longarm. In addition to our experienced criminal solicitors, we have in-house counsel who run our contested hearings and trials. By engaging with our in-house counsel early on, you will be taking steps to ensure the best possible outcome in relation to your charge of Possessing an Unregistered Longarm.
We believe it is very important for our clients to understand what they are facing. Preparing a case strategy early will increase the chances of this charge being withdrawn or leading to an acquittal. We’ll ask questions like – Is there relevant CCTV footage? Is there DNA evidence? Are there people who the Police have not spoken to who can shed some light on this case? Is there exonerating evidence which needs to be preserved?
Before making the decision to plead guilty to a charge of Possessing an Unregistered Longarm, it is essential that you get advice from a lawyer. One of our lawyers will review the evidence against you and consider if there are any relevant defences to the offending.
We will walk you through the process leading up to your plea hearing by taking your detailed instructions and collecting supporting material, such as character references. We will prepare a plea to present to the Magistrate or Judge to ensure you receive the lowest possible penalty available to you.
Which court will the case be heard in?
As this is a summary offence, this will be heard by the Magistrates’ Court.
Examples of Possessing an Unregistered Longarm
- You are carrying around your father’s old hunting rifle in your bag, intending to take it on a hunting trip on the weekend, and it is not registered.
- You have a tranquiliser gun in the backseat of your car that you use for shooting pests. It is not registered.
What is the legal definition of Possessing an Unregistered Longarm?
A non-prohibited person must not possess, carry or use a Category A, B, C, D or E longarm that is not registered. See definition of those categories below.
The legislation for this offence can be found in section 6A of Firearms Act 1996.
Elements of the offence
To prove this charge, the Prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:
- The accused possessed a longarm gun, and
- The longarm gun was a Category A, B, C, D or E longarm, and
- The longarm gun was not registered.
Did the accused possess a longarm gun?
Whether the accused was in possession of the longarm gun will be a matter of fact. If the accused had the gun in the boot of their car, this could amount to constructive possession. The prosecution will probably look to whether the accused had effective custody or control over the gun.
“Can they prove you were in possession of a longarm gun?”
Was the gun a Category A, B, C, D or E longarm?
The type of longarm gun the accused has in their possession will affect the likely penalty they would receive. The definitions of different types of longarms are contained in section 3 of the Firearms Act 1996.
‘Category A longarm’ means any of the following:
- an airgun;
- a rimfire rifle (other than a semi-automatic rimfire rifle);
- a shotgun (other than a pump action or semi-automatic shotgun);
- any combination of a shotgun and rimfire rifle;
‘Category B longarm’ means any of the following:
- a muzzle loading firearm;
- a centre fire rifle (other than an automatic or a semi-automatic centre fire rifle);
- any combination of a shotgun and centre fire rifle;
- a black powder, ball firing cannon;
‘Category C longarm’ means any of the following:
- a semi-automatic rimfire rifle with a magazine capacity of no more than 10 rounds;
- a semi-automatic shotgun with a magazine capacity of no more than 5 rounds;
- a pump action shotgun with a magazine capacity of no more than 5 rounds;
- a tranquiliser gun;
‘Category D longarm’ means any of the following:
- a semi-automatic rimfire rifle with a magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds;
- a semi-automatic shotgun with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds;
- a pump action shotgun with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds;
- a semi-automatic centre fire rifle;
- any other firearm prescribed for the purposes of this category;
- any other firearm that is declared under section 3A(1) to be a category D longarm;
- any other firearm that is declared under section 3B(1)(a) to be a category D longarm;
‘Category E longarm’ means any of the following:
- a machine gun that is a longarm;
- a tear gas gun or projector;
- a shotgun or rifle with a length of less than 75 centimetres measured parallel to the barrel;
- a mortar, bazooka, rocket propelled grenade or similar large calibre military firearm designed to fire an explosive or projectile or any other similar prescribed firearm;
- a cannon which is not a black powder ball firing cannon;
- any other firearm prescribed for the purposes of this category;
- any other firearm that is declared under section 3A(1) to be a category E longarm;
- any other firearm that is declared under section 3B(1)(b) to be a category E longarm;
Was the longarm gun registered?
It is the responsibility of the accused to make sure that the longarm gun is registered. It will not be a defence if they didn’t know the gun had to be registered.
A defence to this may arise where an accused had the weapon for the purposes of self-defence. Other defences include lack of intention to possess the firearm, honest and reasonable mistake of belief, factual dispute, and the concept of beyond reasonable doubt.
Questions in cases like this
- Is the longarm a Category A, B, C, D or E longarm gun?
- Was the longarm gun in your possession?
- Was the gun registered?
You should ring us and discuss your case if you have been charged. Deciding on whether to plead guilty or not has huge consequences for you and should be made after proper discussion with a criminal lawyer.
Maximum penalty for section 6A of the Firearms Act 1996
Possessing an unregistered longarm gun (s6A of the Firearms Act 1996) will probably involve confiscation of the weapon, large fines, and possibly, especially for repeated offences, prison terms.
The maximum penalty depends on the category of longarm gun found in the accused’s possession. The maximum penalty increases substantially if it is not the first offence.
A category A or B longarm can attract a penalty of 120 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment for a first offence, or 1200 penalty units or 10 years imprisonment for a second or subsequent offence.
A category C or D longarm can attract a penalty of 240 penalty units or 4 years imprisonment for a first offence, or 1200 penalty units or 10 years imprisonment for a second or subsequent offence.
A category E longarm can attract a penalty of 600 penalty units or 7 years imprisonment for a first offence, or 1200 penalty units or 10 years imprisonment for a second or subsequent offence.
Sentencing in the higher courts of Victoria
Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria
Other important resources
- SACStat Higher Courts – Firearms Act 1996 (Vic) : s 6A(1) – non-prohibited person possessing a category A or B unregistered longarm
- SAC Statistics – Firearms Act 1996 (Vic) : s 6A(1) – non-prohibited person possess category A or B unregistered longarm
- VCC summaries – firearms offences: Sentencing decisions from 1 January 2016 to 30 November 2017, arranged by severity of total effective sentence