Queensland is facing its newest crime epidemic. There has been a 21% increase in the last year of knife crimes being committed by people between the ages of 10 to 21.

This topic has sparked a heated discussion throughout Queensland with many advocating for mandatory sentencing laws for knife crimes to deter offenders.

What is mandatory sentencing?

Mandatory sentencing is when a judge or magistrate must sentence someone to a certain penalty for a particular offence. An example of mandatory sentencing in the Queensland Legislation is the penalty that must be imposed for some gun related crimes.

The current legislation, in relation to the possession of a knife, does not have a section setting out mandatory sentencing- meaning even repeat offenders can walk away from Court with a small fine.

Currently, it is illegal to possess a knife in a public place or a school unless you have a reasonable excuse pursuant to section 51 of the Weapons Act 1990:

51 Possession of a knife in a public place or a school

(1) A person must not physically possess a knife in a public place or a school, unless the person has a reasonable excuse.

Maximum penalty—40 penalty units or 1 year’s imprisonment.

(2) It is a reasonable excuse for subsection (1) to physically possess a knife—

(a) to perform a lawful activity, duty or employment; or

  1. b) to participate in a lawful entertainment, recreation or sport; or

(c) for lawfully exhibiting the knife; or

(d) for use for a lawful purpose.

The current legislation allows people to carry a knife if they have a reasonable excuse. Reasonable excuses include for the purpose of performing a lawful activity, exhibiting the knife or for another lawful purpose, some relevant examples of when a knife is permissible to be possessed in public include the following.

  • While working in primary production, such as the farmer industry where it is essential.
  • A fisherman, carrying a knife whilst fishing (not permitted out in the community only when fishing).
  • A knife may be used to prepare or cut food at a public restaurant, at a picnic in a park, or other public goof preparation events.

An amendment to the legislation has been proposed that would add a mandatory sentencing provision for knife related crimes to primarily act as a strong deterrence to curve the rise of knife crimes and secondly to alleviate the community fears and increase their safety. The provision could emulate the gun provision and implement the same minimum penalty of actual imprisonment.

Our team specialise in criminal law. Our role is to sit down with you and work out the strategy that will get you the best possible result. If you have any questions about this article or any other topic of law, please call our team of experts on 1300 066 669.