Knife Crime and Sentencing Guidelines
Towns and cities experience knife crime constantly, with a new story of a person being attacked or threatened with an offensive weapon surfacing every day.
It’s becoming increasingly harder to ignore the distinct rise in knife crime and violence with a weapon across the UK over the last ten years.
The UK government released statistics that revealed a 27% increase in knife crime between 2010/11 to 2020/21 – with around 41,000 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales occurring.
As a result, possession of a bladed article sentencing guidelines and the minimum sentence for knife crime has become much stricter to deter people from committing knife crimes, and to help ease the public’s mind.
But what exactly is knife crime?
What is Knife Crime?
Whether it’s a baseball bat, a penknife or a sword, just being found in possession of an offensive weapon can land you in hot water.
Carrying these types of weapons, regardless of intent, can incite violence rather than deter it, which is why it is treated very seriously when an allegation occurs.
Knife crime has two categories under which offences can fall, possession of a weapon and threatening with a weapon.
To understand the differences between the two offences, some factors must be determined. These factors, and the verdict reached, will also have a direct impact on the sentence if the defendant is found guilty.
The main difference is whether it was an offensive weapon or a knife (often referred to as a bladed article.)
What is a Bladed Article?
When you hear the word ‘knife’, what do you think of? For many, an image of a large and very sharp kitchen knife is usually conjured up.
However, in the eyes of the law, a knife can be any type of object that has a blade or is sharply pointed. These types of objects are referred to as bladed articles and are often classified as offensive weapons, so it is illegal to carry one in public, even if you don’t plan on using it.
One of the few objects that escape the label of bladed articles are folding pocket knives which have a blade of fewer than three inches in length.
What is An Offensive Weapon?
Less specific than a bladed article, an offensive weapon is categorised as anything that has been manufactured, manipulated or intended to cause injury to another person.
This can include things such as a baseball bat, a hammer or even a sharpened door key. Less obvious types include corrosive substances such as acid and bleach can be seen as offensive weapons if they were intended by the person to use them as one.
Which Knives are Illegal to Possess?
As a general rule, it’s best not to carry around any type of object that could be perceived as a weapon. However, there are a specific number of knives that are deemed illegal if they’re found in your possession.
- throwing knives
- folding knives with more than one cutting edge
- folding knives with an overall length of more than 28 cm when deployed
- butterfly knives
- gravity knives
- disguised knives
- push daggers
What are the Sentences For Carrying A Knife And Threatening With A Knife In The UK?
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer when it comes to sentencing as there is a huge range of factors that need to be considered.
Parliament has set the maximum penalty for any offence, whether it involves carrying a knife or threatening with a knife. For the possession of a weapon, the maximum sentence is four years in custody.
Threatening another person with a weapon will land the guilty offender in custody for a minimum of six months, or a maximum of four years.
What are the Knife Crime Sentencing Guidelines?
The strict and swift action toward knife crime is seen most within the sentencing guidelines, so much so that if a person is convicted of a second offence of possession of a knife, they will face an immediate prison sentence of between 6 months and 4 years.
The variations in the time frame are often due to the sentencing guidelines focusing on an assessment of culpability and harm, along with any aggravating or mitigating factors.
Culpability described how responsible the accused was for the knife crime offence, along with the type of offensive weapon or bladed article they had in their possession.
Harm is used to measure the type and amount of damage that was risked or caused against the victim/s. Harm also looks into where the offence allegedly took place, as if it was in a location where vulnerable people are, it would indicate more harm was caused (such as a school or elderly home.)
When deciding the sentence, any aggravating factors will have a big impact on the severity of it. Sentences are often more severe if the offence was committed as part of a group, under the influence or motivated by hostility towards race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or identity.
Meanwhile, mitigating factors may have the opposite effect, decreasing the severity of the sentence. This can include:
- has a mental disorder or learning disability
- is the sole or primary carer for dependent relatives
- has cooperated with the police
- lacks any previous or relevant convictions
- is of good character
- has a serious medical condition requiring urgent, intensive or long-term treatment
- is young or lacks maturity
Use DPP Law’s expertise to guide you through any legal process…
DPP Law’s team of experts have over three decades of experience handling knife crime offence cases, working to get the best result possible.
Facing knife crime offence charges can be distressing and facing a court can be daunting and cause a lot of worries. There are many terms, situations and clauses to understand, so having an expert help you navigate the situation will remove any confusion and lessen your worry.
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