Weapons and Firearms Defence Solicitors

MPR Solicitors are experienced in providing successful, well-planned defences for those facing prosecution for weapons and firearms offences. We are a specialist firm, concentrating on complex and serious criminal defence.  Our solicitors have in-depth knowledge of the law surrounding weapons and firearms offences and have a nationally-recognised reputation for providing expert criminal defence advice and representation in court.

To contact our weapons and firearms offences solicitors, please call our office on 020 3824 8080 to make an appointment at our London office.

Our team focus heavily on providing quality legal service and exceptional client care.  We have a dedicated team of criminal defence solicitors and lawyers based in London, specialising in weapons and firearm offences. 

Once instructed, we will analyse your case from every possible angle. Firearms legislation is a myriad of byzantine complexity and can be highly technical to get to grips with. We will advise you on all available defences and assist you in developing a case strategy.  Our expert criminal defence solicitors and lawyers will build your defence, keeping you fully informed as the matter progresses through various stages.

What is classed as an offensive weapon?

The Court of Appeal, in the case of R v Simpson [1983] 3 All ER 789, provided three categories of an offensive weapon:

  1. An object made for the purposes of causing injury to a person,
  2. An object adapted for the purposes of causing injury, and
  3. An object which the person carrying it intended to use to cause injury to a person

For example, a baseball bat, on its own is not an offensive weapon.  However, if it falls into category C, it becomes one.  However, a military knife, such as a Fairbairn-Sykes, which is deliberately fashioned for combat (therefore designed to injure a person) would fall into category A.  An example of category B is a bottle broken deliberately so it can be used to slash a person’s face or body.

If an object is made to deliberately inflict injury, the prosecution does not need to prove that the accused had an intention to cause injury, only that they were carrying the object.

What is the Firearms Act 1968?

Under the Firearms Act 1968 (the Act), section 1, it is an offence to carry a firearm or ammunition without a valid firearms certificate.

A firearm is defined as:

  • A lethal barrelled weapon – further defined in the Act as a barrelled weapon of any type in which a shot, bullet or other missile, with kinetic energy of more than one joule at the muzzle of the weapon, can be discharged
  • A prohibited weapon – this includes (but is not limited to) a pump-action gun, rocket launcher, semi-automatic or automatic gun, or an object designed or modified to discharge gas or noxious liquid
  • A relevant component part in relation to a lethal barrelled weapon or a prohibited weapon 
  • An accessory to a lethal barrelled weapon or a prohibited weapon where the accessory is designed or adapted to diminish the noise or flash caused by firing the weapon

Is it an offence to carry an imitation firearm?

Imitation firearms fall into two categories:

  • An object which has the appearance of a firearm but it is incapable of discharging any shot, bullet, or missile; or
  • An imitation firearm which can be quickly converted into a real one

Under the Act, it is an offence to carry an imitation weapon with the intent to commit a criminal offence, resist arrest or prevent the arrest of another person. 

Possession of an imitation firearm is an ‘either way’ offence.  This means it can be tried as a summary offence in the Magistrates Court or an indictable offence in the Crown Court.  If found guilty of a summary offence, the defendant faces a sentence of up to six months imprisonment (this will be increased to 12 months when the Criminal Justice Act 2003, section 154 comes into force) and/or an unlimited fine.  If found guilty of an indictable offence, a sentence of up to five years imprisonment can be imposed and/or an unlimited fine.

What is the maximum sentence for possession of a firearm?

For anyone over the age of 18 convicted of specific types of firearms offences (those listed in s51A Firearms Act 1968 – possession of most types of gun and some ammunition, as well as the aggravated forms of the offences), they are liable to a minimum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment, unless there are ‘exceptional circumstances relating to the offence or offender which justify its not doing so’.  When deciding whether exceptional circumstances apply, the judge must consider whether handing down a sentence of five years would be arbitrary and/or disproportionate.

It is important to consider that there has been criticism directed at judges in the past for being too lenient in sentencing firearms offences.  Consequently, tougher sentences may be imposed, so it is imperative that you take any firearms charges seriously and instruct an experienced solicitor to advise and represent you.

What is the maximum sentence for possession of an offensive weapon?

The maximum penalty for the offence in the Crown Court is four years’ imprisonment or a fine or both. In the Magistrates Court, the maximum penalty is six months’ imprisonment or a £5,000 fine or both.

Illegal possession of a firearm or an offensive weapon can carry life-changing sentences.  Our criminal defence solicitors can assist you, providing pragmatic advice and a strategic defence.

If you have been charged with a weapons or firearms offence, please call us immediately on 020 3824 8080 or fill in our contact form to get in touch.