Possession of Offensive Weapons

If you are accused of possession of offensive weapons, then you must contact our specialist team of offensive weapon lawyers without delay. If you are charged with using these weapons against another person then our crimes of violence lawyers can help.

Possession of an Offensive Weapon FAQ

A: An offensive weapon is any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to a person. This can include objects that are not primarily an injury-causing item. If adapted to cause harm, it can be classed as an offensive weapon.
A: Offensive weapon legislation was partly brought in to stop people taking the law into their own hands. If you are in possession of an object that can cause harm it is not a reasonable excuse to say it is for fear of being attacked.

Our team of lawyers have a wealth of experience in handling such charges and successfully defending clients who have been charged with possessing offensive weapons.

Carrying an offensive weapon is a criminal offence under section 47 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 

The prosecution does not show that you knew about the presence of the object to prove the charge. Just that you actually have it in your possession. 

The defence would require to establish a reasonable excuse for a person having such an item.

The item in question need not be on the actual person but merely readily available or to hand.

Does the weapon have to be in a public place?

In short, s47(4) defines “public place” as anywhere that is not “domestic premises” (meaning a private dwelling, including its immediate surroundings such as its garden, garage or outhouse).

Places used by more than one dwelling (e.g. the stair of a block of flats, or a shared garden) are classed as public places according to this definition.

Schools and prisons are not included in the definition of “public place” for this offence, because there are distinct offences for having offensive weapons in schools (s49A of the 1995 Act) and prisons (s49C).

The definition of “public place” in s47(4) seems to be extremely wide, but the wording of the definition is clear.

Even in cases where the accused has been found with a weapon in a place that any ordinary person would regard as non-public, the courts have taken the view that the accused will inevitably have carried the weapon through a public place to reach the non-public place. Provided the locus is defined to include the public place, then a conviction will likely stand.

What makes an object an offensive weapon?

Any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to a person.

An article adapted for use for causing injury could include any number of ordinary objects modified to cause injury to a person. An example could be deliberately breaking a bottle during a  fight to adapt it into an object capable of inflicting injury or sticking nails in a piece of wood.

Any article that is possessed to cause injury. This shows how possession of offensive weapons can relate to almost any object.

This second definition can encapsulate almost any imaginable object. It all depends on the intention of the person and the surrounding circumstances.

In a recent case, a screwdriver found in the accused’s pocket was held to be an offensive weapon in circumstances where the accused had acted aggressively towards police officers and told one of them that he would stab them.

What are any defences to possession of offensive weapons?

The s47(1A) defence is for the accused to establish, on the balance of probabilities (more likely than not).

“lawful authority” is included to protect (e.g.) police officers from prosecution for carrying weapons.

Whether an excuse is a reasonable excuse will depend on the particular facts and circumstances of the case.

In a recent case, it was held that a taxi driver carrying a weapon (a piece of rubber hose tipped with metal) out of a general fear of attack by customers is not a reasonable excuse, since the purpose of the applicable legislation was to ensure that the public does not take the law into their own hands.

Possession of an offensive weapon lawyer

If you have been accused of carrying an offensive weapon, then you must contact our specialist team of offensive weapon lawyers without delay.

Legal aid Scotland

You may be entitled to legal aid for these charges. Our possession of offensive weapons lawyers will help you to understand your options as we advance.