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New firearms sentencing guidelines come into force

New firearms sentencing guidelines come into force

From 1st January 2021, judges and magistrates in England and Wales have dedicated guidelines for sentencing offenders who are convicted of firearms offences. This covers such matters as unlawful possession, carrying, manufacture of illegal guns and transferring of firearms.

Until now there have not been any sentencing guidelines for firearms offices in the Crown Court and only one for use in magistrates’ courts - carrying a firearm in a public place. The eight new guidelines, which fall under the 1968 Firearms act, will provide a structured framework for courts, so they can ensure a consistent approach is taken that meets the seriousness of the offence.

What is a firearm?

A firearm is any barrelled lethal weapon that can discharge a bullet, missile or shot. It can include rifles, pistols and shotguns. And it’s worth remembering that where a firearm is used to cause death or injury, other charges such as murder, attempted murder, or causing grievous bodily harm would be brought in addition to the firearms offence.

Transparency is important

Jas Thiara, Head of Criminal Litigation said. “Offences involving firearms are taken very seriously by the courts. Some offences carry life imprisonment, some carry sentences of up to 10 years, and some require minimum sentences of five years. With current legislation being very complex, these new guidelines will make the sentencing process more transparent and easier to understand for victims, witnesses and the general public.“

Jas added. “Being involved in a firearms investigation can be a very stressful experience. The most worrying part is knowing that the case could go to court and conclude with a lengthy prison sentence, which could mean separation from your family and loved ones. That’s why you need to engage the services of an experienced criminal litigation solicitor. They may be able to reduce your prison sentence or even avoid it completely depending up on the situation in question and of course the evidence.

Jas concludes. “Some of the most common offences include possession of a firearm without a valid certificate, carrying a gun with the intent to cause fear or violence, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, converting something into a weapon, possession of an imitation weapon and reducing the noise of a weapon being fired. As well as the new guidelines, a further set of guidance will be looked at next year in respect of firearm importation offences.”

Free initial meeting for support and advice

We have a vast amount of experience in criminal litigation and are very experienced in providing advice and representation to clients who are being investigated or prosecuted. And thanks to our network of offices covering Leamington, Coventry, Nuneaton and Southam we are very accessible too. For timely and quality advice, please contact Jas Thiara, Head of Criminal Litigation at Alsters Kelley Solicitors Ltd on 02477 710200 or email

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