Unlicensed Own Category C or D Longarm or Handgun
– section 135(2) of the Firearms Act 1996
Without a licence, it is illegal to possess a category C or D longarm or handgun under section 135(2) of the Firearms Act 1996. This is a serious charge that can carry significant penalties if the charges are proven. It is crucial that you have a lawyer evaluate your case before deciding whether to contest or enter a plea of guilty to any criminal allegation of this nature.
Category C firearm’s include:
- Semi-automatic rimfire rifle with a magazine capacity of no more than 10 rounds;
- Semi-automatic shotgun with a magazine capacity of no more than 5 rounds;
- A pump action shotgun with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds;
- A tranquiliser gun.
Category D firearm’s include:
- The above guns with greater magazine capacities;
- A semi-automatic centre fire rifle;
- Any other firearm prescribed for the purposes of this category;
- Any other firearm that is declared to be a Category D by the Chief Commissioner.
Examples of Owning a Category C or D Longarm or Handgun
- Having a category C or D longarm or category in your possession or control without a license.
Questions in cases like this
- What intent can be identified from the circumstances surrounding the matter?
- Was there an emergency situation?
- Were you the one in possession or control?
What are some of the possible defences to Unlicensed Own Category C or D Longarm or Handgun?
Defences that can be run in response to this charge include necessity, lack of intent, sudden or extraordinary emergency, incorrect factual matrix and the concept of beyond reasonable doubt.
Maximum penalty and court that deals with this charge
This offence carries a maximum penalty of a fine of 120 penalty units (around $19, 340) or 2 years imprisonment. As a summary offence, any summons for this charge will normally be handled by the Magistrates’ Court.
What is the legal definition of Unlicensed Own Category C or D Longarm or Handgun?
- A person must not own a category C or D longarm or a general category handgun unless that person is authorised by a licence under this Act to possess the firearm.
Penalty: 120 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment.
The legislation for this offence can be found on section 135(2) of the Firearms Act 1996.
“Have you been accused of possessing a Category C or D longarm or handgun?”
Elements of the offence
The prosecution must prove:
- The accused possessed a category C or D longarm or handgun; and
- The accused did not have a licence authorising possession of the firearm.
Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts
From 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016, there were 65 cases (75 charges) of Unlicensed Own Category A or B Longarm that were heard in the Victorian Magistrates’ Courts. They resulted in the following penalties:
- Imprisonment – 29.1%
- Community Correction Order – 25.5%
- Fine – 23.6%
- Wholly Suspended Sentence – 9.1%
- Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal – 7.3%
- Other – 3.6%
- Community-Based Order – 1.8%
Of the cases that led to prison terms, 6.3% received the longest term imposed: somewhere between 18 and 24 months. Majority were sentenced to periods that were below 3 months (37.5%).
For the fines, the highest amount imposed fell under the “$500 < $1,000” and “$2,000 < $3,000” categories, at 33.3% respectively of the charges that led to fines (for aggregate). These are also the same categories where majority of the charges that led to fines fell under. For non-aggregate fines, the highest amount imposed was somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 (5.6%).1
Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.2
Other important resources
- SAC Statistics – Firearms Act 1996 (Vic) : s 135(2) – unlicensed own category C or D longarm or handgun
- VCC summaries – firearms offences: Sentencing decisions from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2017, arranged by severity of total effective sentence
 Sentencing Advisory Council. “SAC Statistics – Firearms Act 1996 (Vic) : s 135(2) – unlicensed own category C or D longarm or handgun.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/96_66_135_2.html (accessed January 14, 2019).
 Sentencing Advisory Council. “Suspended Sentence.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/sentencing-options-for-adults/suspended-sentence (accessed January 14, 2019).