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Possession of an Offensive Weapon

Possessing an offensive weapon in a public place is a criminal offence, contrary to section 1(1) of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953.

If you are accused of possessing an offensive weapon, the prosecution must show that:

  • You were in a public place,
  • You had an offensive weapon in your possession, and
  • You did not have a lawful authority or reasonable excuse for having that item

An “offensive weapon” is defined as any article that was made or adapted to cause injury to a person, or intended to be used in such a way. This includes specific items such as knuckle dusters/brass knuckles, flick knives, gravity knives/butterfly knives, or extendable batons. it can also include items such as broken bottles.

It is irrelevant that a person may not intend to use such an item to cause injury. The offence simply refers to being in possession of such an item in a public place. the definition also means that if a person is carrying a knife with the intention of defending themselves, the logical conclusion is that the intention is to cause injury if the item is used.

Whether or not a person had a reasonable excuse for possessing an offensive weapon is a matter for the Court. There is no legal definition, and it is a question for Magistrates or a jury to determine the facts of an individual case.

The offence of having an offensive weapon in public is an either way offence, meaning that it can be heard by either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court depending on the seriousness. If the weapon has been used to threaten another, the offence is seen as too serious for the Magistrates Court.

If you, or someone you know, have been accused of possessing an offensive weapon in public, it is important that you are represented by a specialist criminal defence lawyer who can advise you on the individual elements of your case. Contact us to see if we can recommend an expert criminal defence solicitor or barrister with experience of such serious offences.

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Every case is unique, and everybody’s circumstances are different. If you are dealing with any of the offences discussed on this site, and need independent advice or a second opinion, contact us to see if we can help.