When is it legal to carry a knife?
The Summary Offences Act 1998 makes it an offence for a person to have custody of a knife in a public place without reasonable excuse.
Section 11C of the Act states:
In other words, it is not legal to carry a knife in a public place or school, unless you have a “reasonable excuse” for having it.
What are examples of a “reasonable excuse” to carry a knife?
Section 11C of the Act also lists out some examples of a “reasonable excuse” for having a knife in public place or school:
It is a reasonable excuse for the purposes of this section for a person to have custody of a knife, if:
(a) the custody is reasonably necessary in all the circumstances for any of the following:
(i) the lawful pursuit of the person’s occupation, education or training,
(ii) the preparation or consumption of food or drink,
(iii) participation in a lawful entertainment, recreation or sport,
(iv) the exhibition of knives for retail or other trade purposes,
(v) an organised exhibition by knife collectors,
(vi) the wearing of an official uniform,
(vii) genuine religious purposes, or
(b) the custody is reasonably necessary in all the circumstances during travel to or from or incidental to an activity referred to in paragraph (a), or
(c) the custody is of a kind prescribed by the regulations.
(3) However, it is not a reasonable excuse for the purposes of this section for a person to have custody of a knife solely for the purpose of self defence or the defence of another person.
The definition is not ‘exhaustive’ which means that other activities may also constitute a ‘reasonable excuse’. However the person in possession would be required to prove that the possession was ‘reasonable’.
What is the penalty for having Custody of a Knife in a Public Place or School?
Section 11(c) of The Summary Offences Act 1998 imposes a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $2,200 upon anyone who, without ‘reasonable excuse’, has a knife in their possession in a public place or in a school.
If it is your first offence, quite often a Magistrate will consider not recording a conviction on your record, pursuant to Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing and Procedure) Act 1999. This means that you will not have a criminal conviction against your name.
For more information on Section 10, and to see case studies where we have represented others achieving a Section 10, go to:
How can I defend a charge of having Custody of a Knife in a Public Place or School?
Very often, the Police find a knife in the vehicle in which the defendant was in at the time. It is important to know that the police must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you actually had “custody” of the knife, and that you were not just present in the car, or just driving it. It is not unusual for a passenger or driver of a car not to know about the exact items that a car contains.
If you have been charged with carrying a knife, it is advisable to contact a criminal defence lawyer to seek legal advice. You can contact LY Lawyers 24 hours on 1300 LYLAWYERS or 1300 595 299.