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Possession of Knife in Public Place

In New South Wales, it an offence to have possession of a knife in a public place or school, if you do not have a reasonable excuse for having possession of that knife.

Possessing a knife in a public place or school is an offence in contravention of section 11C of the Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW) and carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $2,200.00.

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What constitutes a “public place”

A public place has been defined to include:

(a)  a place (whether or not covered by water), or

(b)  a part of premises,

that is open to the public, or is used by the public whether or not on payment of money or other consideration, whether or not the place or part is ordinarily so open or used and whether or not the public to whom it is open consists only of a limited class of persons, but does not include a school.

Despite not including a school in the definition of “public place”, the legislation for section 11C of the Summary Offences Act specifically includes that a person cannot possess a knife in a school.

Defences

The legislation mandates that if you have a “reasonable excuse” of having possession of a knife in a public place or school, then you are not guilty of the offence.

Without limiting the possibilities as to what could amount to a “reasonable excuse”, the legislation prescribes in s11C(2) that a reasonable excuse of a person having possession of a knife could be:

  1. If it is your lawful occupation;
  2. If you are using the knife for the preparation or consumption of food;
  3. If you are using the knife to participate in lawful entertainment, recreation or sport;
  4. If the knife is being used for retail or other trade purpose;
  5. If there is an exhibition organised by knife collectors;
  6. If the knife is in your possession as a result of wearing an official uniform;
  7. If you have possession of the knife for religious purposes.

It is also a defence to a charge of possessing a knife in a public place or school if your possession of the knife is of a prescribed kind.

It is not a defence to the charge if you say to police that your excuse for having possession of the knife for was for the sole purpose of self-defence or for the defence of another person

Will I get a criminal record and will I go to jail?

An offence in contravention of s11C of the Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW) is a summary matter and will be heard in the jurisdiction of the Local Court.

As can be seen from the maximum penalty, it is an offence that is treated seriously by the Courts, particularly if you do not have a “reasonable excuse” as to why you have possession of the knife.

If you have been charged with an offence of possessing a knife in a public place or school then you should contact one of our experienced criminal lawyers to discuss your case, including whether there are any defences available to you.

For the full range of penalties that can be imposed, see our Sentencing Options page.