Leading lawyers specialising in defending firearms allegations (Manchester and London)

Olliers has vast experience of defending firearms allegations. Such cases vary in seriousness and complexity but should you require assistance in relation to such a matter, Olliers can help you.

Types of Firearm offences

What is the legal definition of a firearm?

A firearm is “a lethal barrelled weapon of any description from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged” (section 57 (1) Firearms Act 1968). 

It is a complex area of law and you should always take legal advice if you find yourself arrested or summonsed to court in relation to an offence under the Firearms Act. 

There are a number of ways you can commit an offence under the firearms act. Some examples might be:

  • Possessing a firearm 
  • Transferring or selling a firearm
  • Converting or modifying a firearm
  • Importing a firearm
  • Possession of a Firearm

It is an offence under section 1 of the Firearms Act 1968 to possess a firearm, certain air weapons and certain ammunition without a certificate. The regulations under the Firearms Act are complex and the charges you face will always require scrutiny.

Simple possession is the most straightforward charge. The prosecution only has to show that the defendant knew he or she had something in his or her possession. It is irrelevant what he or she knew or thought it was. 

Mandatory minimum sentence? 

Section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968 defines certain ‘prohibited weapons’ which are subject to the Mandatory Minimum sentence of five years imprisonment.

The list of such ‘prohibited’ weapons would include (unsurprisingly) machine guns, short-barrelled rifles, handguns, revolvers, and self-loading shotguns. However, it also includes, for example, an air weapon designed or adapted for use with a “self-contained gas cartridge system” and even includes a firearm which is disguised as another object, e.g. a pen gun or a key fob gun. 

If you are not sure whether a weapon would be contained within the minimum mandatory sentence offence contact us for specialist firearms advice.

In a case of prohibited weapons, the Judge will only depart from passing the minimum sentence in ‘exceptional circumstances’ where all factors will be taken into consideration.  

If you find yourself charged with having a prohibited weapon you should seek urgent legal advice.  

Further firearms offences:

In addition to general offences involving  the possessing or transferring of firearms, there are also a number of offences under the Firearms Act 1968 relating to what the person proposed to do with the alleged firearm which might include:

  • Possession of a firearm or ammunition with intent to endanger life;
  • Possession of a firearm or imitation with intent to cause fear of violence;
  • Using a firearm or imitation to resist or prevent lawful arrest of himself or another;
  • Possessing a firearm or imitation whilst committing certain offences;
  • Carrying a firearm or imitation with intent to commit an indictable offence or to resist arrest or prevent the arrest of another;
  • Carrying a loaded shotgun, air weapon, (whether loaded or not), or any other firearm (whether loaded or not) together with ammunition suitable for use in that firearm or an imitation firearm in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse;
  • Entering a building or part of a building as a trespasser without reasonable excuse whilst having with him a firearm or imitation;
  • Possession of a firearm by persons previously convicted of a crime.

In relation to all of the above, it is not uncommon for the prosecution to charge as a conspiracy which means an agreement between 2 or more persons to commit an offence for example conspiracy to transfer a prohibited firearm. 

Use of Experts

Firearms will always be examined by a trained firearms police officer who will provide details of measurements and capabilities of the firearm in order to assist in its definition for the purposes of the firearms act and to help the prosecution determine which section of the Firearms Act it falls under.

It is sometimes necessary for the defence to instruct experts to look at issues pertaining to: 

  • Fingerprint analysis
  • DNA testing
  • Forensic Discharge residue (FDR)
  • Compatibility of firearm together with any recovered ammunition

Recent relevant firearms cases include:

  • 2020 – Sheffield Crown Court  – Operation Erbium; representing defendant charged with multiple counts of transferring prohibited firearms and ammunition
  • 2019 – Liverpool Crown Court  – Operation Blush; represented defendant charged with conspiracy to possess and transfer firearms with intent to endanger life
  • 2018 – Manchester Crown Court  – Operation Cosmetic; represented defendant charged with conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon

Olliers Solicitors – Specialist Criminal Defence

If you require advice in relation to firearms offences, Olliers has considerable experience in representing persons in this area. If you are facing an allegation involving firearms, contacts  on 0161 834 1515 or email info@olliers.com.

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