If you or somebody close to you has been arrested or charged in connection with possessing or using firearms, you will most likely feel stressed, worried and concerned about what is going to happen.
There are other items, if found in your possession, for which you may be charged with firearms offences. These include component parts of a weapon or anything that could be adapted to reduce the noise of a weapon being fired.
We understand that this is a very difficult time for you, so have put together some common questions with their answers. We aim to give you some peace of mind along with the emotional support and guidance that you need.
If you have any questions that you cannot find an answer to here, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can contact us with your concerns or questions at any time for no charge.
What are Firearm Offences?
Here are some examples of firearms offences that may have led to the situation at hand.
Illegal possession of a firearm – including possession of any gun or ammunition or prohibited weapon without a certificate.
Possession of an imitation firearm – this charge can be applied if you possess anything that has the appearance of a gun.
Criminal use of a firearm – this charge includes carrying a gun to endanger life, cause fear or to resist arrest or prevent the capture or arrest of another.
Illegal conversion of weapons – including the shortening of a shotgun barrel below a certain length and converting something into a weapon.
Illegal importation of weapons – this charge includes receiving goods that have been removed from a warehouse or Queen’s warehouse unlawfully, receiving products that have not had duty paid on them and receiving products that are prohibited or restricted.
Possession of a firearm With the intent to cause fear or violence – to be convicted of this offence, you don’t need to have caused harm, you just need to intend to have caused fear.
What happens in a Firearms Offence investigation?
When a firearms offence investigation takes place, it can be a very worrying time. You are likely to feel anxiety about not being able to cover your bills or have enough food for your family or dependents to eat. You feel very stressed and your entire world will feel uncertain, unstable and unsettled.
have YOUR been falsely accused of firearms offences?
You may have been falsely accused with firearms offences if you possess an antique or ornamental gun that was made before 1939.
If so, we recommend that you take the advice of a competent and experienced criminal solicitor as soon as possible. The earlier you take action to find the right solicitor, the soon you will be able to work with them on getting your name cleared, and the case dismissed.
Instruct a legal professional as soon as possible
We recommend that you do not attend any police interview without a criminal solicitor to support you. However, if you do so, you will be taken in a room at the police station and asked some probing questions that will put you on the spot. You’ll need to provide evidence of where you were at specific times, information about how you got a firearm and from whom.
The police may invite you to the station under the guise of having a ‘chat’ with you. They may tell you that they need to hear ‘your side of the story’. They may use a number of different tactics to try to get you to attend a police interview without being fully prepared for it.
Once you’re in a police interview, their training and skills of using different interviewing tactics will be applied. One of these is to make you feel relaxed and off guard so that you incriminate yourself.
It’s vital that any communication that takes place between a suspect and a police officer takes place in the presence of a legal representative. Even a telephone conversation can be used as evidence in a court of law.
Even if the police tell you that you don’t need a lawyer, or that it will take too long for one to come, you must refuse to attend a police interview without having one with you. The goal of the police is to get you charged and convicted, whereas the role of a defence solicitor is to prevent this.
Everything that you say in the police interview will be recorded and potentially used as evidence against you in the courtroom.
The most significant disadvantage of not engaging a criminal solicitor before attending the police interview is that you will have access to very little about the details of the case. Once you hire a criminal defence solicitor, they will be able to access the particulars that you need to be able to construct a strong defence.
The police interview questions may be probing, and you will be shown evidence that the law enforcement authorities have gathered to prove their case. The interview is high pressure and can be intense, gruelling and sometimes upsetting.
At the end of the police interview, a decision will be made on what will happen next. You may be required to attend a crown court.
As illustrated above, it’s crucial that you hire a criminal solicitor to support you at this time. If there is a case for dismissal or appeal, the solicitor will be able to find it for you. That one step of engaging a criminal solicitor could make the difference between a life of liberty and a life behind bars.
What should you do if you get arrested or charged with a Firearms Offence?
In every case, the police will make an arrest and interview you to document your account on an interview tape. This interview becomes vital evidence and the prosecution will rely on this to prove you to be a liar or to show inconsistencies in what you have said. It is vital that you instruct our lawyers with expertise in defending firearms offences from the very beginning of the case. We will ensure you make informed decisions and follow our expert advice to protect your best interests and preserve your position at any forthcoming trial.
Can the police search my home?
The police can search your home as they will be seeking evidence to prove you are guilty. A judge or a magistrate will have granted access to your property, and any other properties you are known to be associated with.
Your workplace, your partner’s home, your ‘hang-out’ are all places which can be searched by expert search-officers and trained sniffer dogs.
What type of sentence could you get for Firearms Offences?
The sentence you receive upon conviction of firearms offences will depend upon what you have been charged with. The minimum prison sentence for firearms offences is usually five years for an adult and three years for a 16 or 17-year-old.
However there is so much a good criminal solicitor can do in order to have your sentence reduced. In some instances, if you plead guilty, you will be entitled to a one-third reduction in your sentence for example. In other instances we can engage firearms experts to show the unlikelihood of the firearm ever being able to discharge a round of ammunition. Read more information about sentencing for Firearms Offences
What mitigating factors may be considered in sentencing?
The extent of the term of imprisonment and other penalties in firearms offences will depend on your involvement, how serious the crime is and whether it was carried through or not.
Your mitigation will be crafted by your expert criminal solicitor. Mitigation for these serious offences requires an advanced level of planning and research and usually, we will for example:
consider sentences imposed in past similar cases, to find an argument for the most lenient sentence
consider the sentencing guidelines and find reason to persuade the judge to issue a sentence lower than the guidelines
find facts which distinguish your case from other cases of a similar nature, where lengthy sentences were imposed
collect evidence your previous criminal history (hopefully, the lack of) and show the judge that this was a one-off and isolated incident
find evidence of your standing in the community, your good character and nature, your good deeds, your responsibilities and information on the number of people who are likely to be affected by your absence
there are many others points of mitigation we will consider, as each case depends on its own individual characteristics, the court itself, the nature of the judge, the type of prosecutor, the involvement of the police officer, the interest of the media, the attention of the public and so on.
Could you be imprisoned for a Firearms Offence?
Firearms offences are considered to be very serious, but they may not result in a prison sentence every time. If you take the right steps, we may even get your case dismissed before it progresses to court.
For instance, if the main issue is possession of a firearm and the place of the find is not usually related to you, there are no fingerprints and no other evidence linking you to the firearm; there is strong likelihood the prosecution cannot prove that you knew about the firearm and it was in your possession. In this case for example, the court would usually need to dismiss the case.
The minimum sentence for firearms offences is five years.
We handle firearms offences cases regularly and have deep expertise in this field. We can help you by recommending the best course of action to take to mitigate the outcome. No matter what size your case, get in touch.
Does a conviction for a Firearms Offence go on your criminal record?
If you are convicted of a firearms offence, your conviction will be noted on your CRB / police record. The period of the endorsement will depend on the type and the length of the sentence.
If your sentence is more than 4 years’ imprisonment, then the endorsement will usually be on your record for life.
How Can Stuart Miller Solicitors Help?
As one of the largest criminal defence solicitors’ firms in the UK, our solicitors have a long history of defending those accused of trading, converting, possessing, using or importing firearms and imitation firearms. We stand proud of our proactive approach to criminal defence. We seek to show passion, hard work and real commitment in protecting the best interests of our clients.
It’s crucial that you are correctly legally represented when you first receive the letter inviting you to the interview under caution. By doing so, we will typically get you a good result. In some cases, a client will come to us after the interview. Although it can often be more difficult, but not impossible, for us to get that good result in these cases.
Our solicitors will focus on developing the defences available in allegations of firearms offences. Was the firearm lethal as defined by the law ? We will instruct renowned firearms experts to analyse the firearm and ensure the prosecution is brought within the confines of the law. If it is not, we will challenge the charges to have them dismissed.
We are knowledgeable and skilled in defending allegations of possession of a firearm or ammunition without a lawful certificate, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, possession of a firearm or imitation with intent to cause fear or violence. Firearms offences involving the holding or transporting or keeping of firearms and making them available for someone else to use in criminal activity are also defended by us and our firearms lawyers can provide advice on defences available for each type of offence.
Furthermore, we encounter firearms offences allegations involving young persons. Charges are often possession of an imitation firearm in a public place without lawful authority and acquisition or hire of firearms which is unlawful for those under the age of 18 in any event.
What will happen when I instruct a fraud lawyer?
Our firearms lawyers will establish whether the firearm was registered, was traded by a licensed trader, was involved in previous crimes and then ensure these crimes are detached from you. We will look into the capacity of the firearm and instruct ballistics experts to establish whether the firearm was even capable of firing.
In this complex area of law which attracts very serious and lengthy terms of imprisonment, we will do everything in our power to achieve the best outcome for you. We will engage specialist barristers or QC’s with a track record and experience of defending firearms offences.
Would you like to discuss your case before instructing us?
If you are accused of firearms offences and need urgent advice, our firearms solicitors are available to assist 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Please contact us and we will arrange a meeting with you in person, online or by telephone. If you prefer, you can WhatsApp us from the link you will find on this page.
If you’d like to have a no obligation chat with us before you instruct us to take your case, then call us today.
In addition to giving you a free consultation, we can also represent you at the police station if you’ve been arrested. We can look at securing your legal aid.
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