Firearms Charges Case Study Melbourne Magistrate Court
- Acquire handgun not from a firearms dealer
Maximum penalty: 1200 penalty units or 10 years imprisonment
FIREARMS ACT 1996 – SECT 124
Maximum penalty: 40 penalty units
Our client grew concerned for his safety in his home after there were local armed robberies in his area. He installed security systems with camera’s and alarms, however grew more concerned when he noticed vehicles slowly scoping out his house several times a day and night without headlights on.
He decided to seek a firearm and ammunition over the internet for safety purposes. He commenced conversations online and arranged currency transactions for their purchases. When he attended to retrieve his purchases he was arrested, having been speaking to a member of the police force the entire time.
Firearms charges are incredibly serious charges, especially in this case where our client was attempting to purchase a machine gun, which is designated as the most serious acquisition under the firearms legislation. Our client was looking at receiving a lengthy prison term.
We were able to contextualise our client’s growing fears by demonstrating his history of homelessness and building himself up from practically nothing to owning a vehicle and a property, to this concern of having all of these ripped from him. We also highlighted his lack of education which might explain his poorly demonstrated problem solving skills.
Our client also had a number of prior convictions. However, the majority of these were over a decade old, mostly consisting of the time when our client was experiencing homelessness.
We were able to demonstrate from his current working habits, that he was clean and not using drugs, that his intentions were not to turn back to a life of criminal activity, but purely for safety and peace of mind. We were able to convince the Court that his intentions were not at all sinister.
We requested our client be assessed for a Community Corrections Order, so that his concerns can be treated in a therapeutic and rehabilitative fashion, rather than through a custodial sentence.
A community corrections order is a sentencing option available to the Court upon all criminal charges where there is a maximum penalty greater than 5 penalty units or higher.
It is a community-based option that emphasises treatment, rehabilitation and possibly community work to deal with the offending.
However, the conditions are strict. If a person is sentenced to one of these orders, they must adhere to all conditions and attend all appointments asked of them. If they do not, they can be charged and re-sentenced.
The Court noted in this case that they were only going to consider a Community Corrections Order if it was coupled with a prison term, due to the seriousness of the offending.
After his assessment, we further submitted to the Court that our client has demonstrated his ability to complete community-based orders previously, and that he was able to respond well and utilise the programs on the orders to make better choices in the future.
It was submitted to the Court that whilst the offending is serious, the circumstances were drastically mitigated by his cooperation with police, his lack of recent priors’ criminal charges as well as general lack of violent criminal priors, and a lack of sinister intent in the firearms’ utilisation.
The Court ultimately accepted this and did not make an order for a term of imprisonment. Instead an order was made for an 18-month Community Corrections Order, consisting of a large amount of community work and treatment for offending behaviour.