Acid is included in the definition of the new concept of ‘highly dangerous weapons’ in the new Sentencing Guidelines on Possession of Bladed Articles and Offensive Weapons.
New Sentencing Guidelines
The new guidelines, which were released today, Thursday 1st March 2018, will apply to all offenders sentenced on or after 1st June 2018.
The introduction of the concept of a “ highly dangerous weapon” and the inclusion of acid within the Sentencing Council’s definition of it, is a major development in the sentencing of weapons offences.
What is an “offensive weapon?”
An offensive weapon is defined as any article made or adapted for use for causing injury or is intended by the person having it with him for such use. Other weapons, such as acid or other corrosive material, whose dangerous nature is substantially above and beyond this definition ,can be now classed as ”highly dangerous”.
Courts will have to decide on the facts of each case whether a weapon can considered to be highly dangerous or not. However, with the guidelines directly making reference to acid, it is likely that the vast majority of offences of carrying acid (where the prosecution can demonstrate that it was being carried as a weapon) will be sentenced as possession of a highly dangerous weapon.
Possession of acid
Possession of highly dangerous weapons such as acid will be sentenced in the same way that knives and bladed articles are. They will attract the most serious penalties from the courts, being classified in the most serious category of offences of this nature.
How will these guidelines affect sentencing?
It appears these guidelines have been introduced in a response to the increase in prevalence of acid attacks and they seek to toughen up on offenders found in possession of highly dangerous weapons.
The Sentencing Council acknowledges that the new guidelines will lead to some increases in sentence levels, predominantly in relation to adults convicted of weapon offences.
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