Is It Legal to Carry a Knife in New South Wales?

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The NSW Police Force has reported charging 91 people with criminal offences during a two-day operation on 18 and 19 June 2020 which targeted ‘knife crime’ in Sydney’s south-western suburbs.

Operation Saber II involved all nine South West Metropolitan Region commands as well as the Operations Support Group, Traffic and Highway Patrol, Police Transport Command and High Visibility Policing Units who conducted 413 personal searches and 40 bail compliance on individuals in the region.

Police say the operation led to the seizure of 20 knives and criminal charges brought against 91 people for alleged offences ranging from possessing a knife in a public place, to breaching bail, to possessing a prohibited drug.

Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Adam Whyte told the media:

“Operation Saber was initiated by the South West Metropolitan Region in response to a rise in people possessing knives and bladed weapons in public places and committing violent offences”.

“We are targeting known violent people within the South West Metropolitan Region.”

“We won’t tolerate violent or predatory behaviour in the community and police will actively engage and arrest people who possess weapons in public places.”

The operation follows Saber I on 6 and 7 February 2020, during which 426 people were subjected to personal searches, 59 were charged with criminal offences, and 16 knives were seized.

The offence of possessing a knife in a public place or school

Under section 93IB of the Crimes Act 1900  it is an offence to be in custody of a knife in a public place or a school. This offence carries a maximum penalty of  a fine of $4,400, imprisonment for 4 years, or both.

A further offence is outlined under section 93IC of the Act which applies if a person uses or carries a knife that is visible, if the use or carrying occurs:

  • In the presence of a person; and
  • In a public place or a school; and
  • In a way that is likely to cause a reasonable person to reasonably fear for the person’s safety.

This offence carries a maximum penalty up to $11,000, imprisonment for 4 years, or both.

A ‘knife’ is includes a knife blade and a razor blade.

A ‘public place’ includes any place or 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.

A statutory defence (which is an offence relating specifically to the offence) exists for both offences if  the accused person establishes ‘on the balance of probabilities’ (in other words, more likely than not) that he or she had a reasonable excuse for carrying the knife.

Under the Act, a reasonable excuse is where it was necessary to carry or use the knife for:

  •  The lawful pursuit of the person’s occupation, education or training, or
  • The preparation or consumption of food or drink, or
  • Participation in a lawful entertainment, recreation or sport, or
  • The exhibition of knives for retail or other trade purposes, or
  • An organised exhibition by knife collectors, or
  • The wearing of an official uniform, or
  • Genuine religious purposes, or
  • During travel to or from or incidental to any of these activities.

Carrying a knife for the purposes of self-defence or defence of another is not a reasonable excuse.

Going to court?

If you are going to court for a criminal offence, call Sydney Criminal Lawyers anytime on (02) 9261 8881 to arrange a free first conference with an experienced defence lawyer who will advise you of your options and the best way forward.

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Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with 25 years of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

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