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Criminal Defence Blog

Possession of a Knife or Offensive Weapon

Possession of a Knife or Offensive Weapon


Possession of a knife or offensive weapon is a serious offence.  The Criminal Justice System dealt with almost 4,000 of these cases in the fourth quarter of 2014 (from October to December).


While the incidences of this offence peaked in 2008 at over 7,000 cases, the reduction in the incidences now appears to have leveled off, and the figures for the October to December period have tended to be lower than the previous months.


These crimes are mainly committed by adults (81%) and in just under a third of cases, an immediate custodial sentence was imposed, with one in five cases resulting in a suspended sentence.


Worrying statistics for defendants are the facts that the number of offenders given cautions is reducing over time, and juvenile offenders are now more likely to receive an immediate custodial sentence, with 1 in every 10 now being sent to prison for possession of a knife or offensive weapon offences.


Defendants convicted of offences that involve the possession of an item that has a blade or point are more likely to be given an immediate custodial sentence than those convicted of offences involving other offensive weapons, with the average custodial offence being for 224 days.


The length of custodial sentences imposed is increasing over time, with the average custodial sentence in October-December 2007 standing at 71% shorter, at 131 days.


Unsurprisingly, defendants convicted who have previous convictions or cautions for possession offences are dealt with more harshly by the courts and are more likely to receive custodial sentences.  For defendants with at least one previous possession offence on their record, 45% were sentenced to immediate custody in the 12 months to December 2014.


The relatively new offence of aggravated knife possession came into force on 3 December 2012, and in the 12 months to December 2014, there had been a total of 426 incidences of this, with 330 incidences by adults and 96 by juveniles.  For offenders aged 16 or over, 60% received immediate custodial sentences.


In total, as at 26 December 2014, there were 404 people serving custodial sentences for possession of an offensive weapon.


These statistics highlight how important it is that you receive expert legal advice if you are charged with possession of a knife or offensive weapon.  Call our dedicated team now on 01623 397200 and get the experts on your side.

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