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Thursday, 13 July 2023 16:28

Possessing a Knife in a Public Place in Queensland

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Possessing a Knife in a Public Place


In Queensland, it is an offence to possess a knife in a public place unless you have a lawful excuse.

The offence is found in section 51 of the Weapons Act 1990.


What is a knife?

For the purposes of the Weapons Act, a knife is defined as " a thing with a sharpened point or blade that is reasonably capable of being held in 1 or both hands; and being used to wound or threaten to wound anyone when held in 1 or both hands.”


What does possession mean?

For the act possession can obviously mean having the knife on your person. However it is not limited to physical possession it can also apply by;

a)       Having the thing in one’s custody; or

b)      Having the thing under one’s control in any place, whether or not another has custody of the thing; or

c)       Having an ability to obtain custody of the thing at will; or

d)      Having a claim to custody of the thing which the claimant has committed to the custody of another, notwithstanding that the thing is temporarily not in the control of the person having such claim.

In R v Boyesen the judge hearing the case defined possession like this:

Possession is a deceptively simple concept. It denotes a physical control or custody of a thing plus knowledge that you have it in your custody or control. You may possess a thing without knowing or comprehending its nature: but you do not possess it unless you know you have it

Therefore things like giving the knife to another person to hold or having it in your bag, leaving it in your car or even having put the knife on the ground but intending to collect it when you leave a public place could be considered to be possession.


What is a public place?

A public place is any place to which the public is entitled to use, is open to the public, or used by the public, whether on payment or otherwise. The act also includes a school as being a public place.

Importantly a public place includes a motor vehicle that is in a public place.


What is a lawful excuse?

There are a number of lawful excuses for possessing a knife in a public place. These include:

  • To perform a lawful activity, duty or employment; or
  • To participate in a lawful entertainment, recreation or sport; or
  • For lawfully exhibiting the knife or
  • For use for a lawful purpose

Examples of lawful possession of a knife in a public place include;

  • a person who collects knives may exhibit them at a fete or another public gathering
  • A person may use a knife to prepare to cut food at a restaurant in a public place or when having a picnic in a park
  • A person may carry a pen knife or swiss army knife for use for its normal utility purposes
  • A fisher may carry a knife for use while fishing
  • To physically possess a knife for genuine religious purposes
  • Someone using a knife wile working

In deciding what is a reasonable excuse regard may be had, among other things, to whether the way the knife is held in possession, or when and where it is held in possession, would cause a reasonable person concern that he or she, or someone else in the vicinity, may be threatened or harmed.

Importantly it is not a lawful use to possess a knife in a public place for the purposes of self defence.



Penalties for possessing a knife in a public place

The penalties for possessing a knife in a public place depend on the circumstances. If you are convicted of the offence, you could face:

  • A fine of up to $6,192.
  • A term of imprisonment of up to one year.
  • Recording of a conviction that will last 5 years


What to do if you are charged with possessing a knife in a public place

If you are charged with possessing a knife in a public place, it is important to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you understand the charges against you and can advise you on how to best proceed.



Possessing a knife in a public place is a serious offence in Queensland. If you are convicted of the offence, you could face significant penalties or the recording of a conviction that might affect your future.

If you are charged with this offence, it is important to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.

Read 261 times Last modified on Friday, 11 August 2023 16:12
Steven Brough

Steven Brough is a criminal defence lawyer and founder of Clarity Law with over 22 years experience he has appeared in almost every court in Queensland representing clients charged with criminal offences and getting them the best outcome possible.