From 17 July 2015 the law has been changed to create a minimum custodial sentence for those aged 16 or over who are convicted of a second offence of possession of a knife or offensive weapon.

The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 creates  a 6 month minimum custodial sentence for an offender aged 18 or over when they are convicted of a second offence of possessing a knife or offensive weapon. If the offender is aged 16 or 17 when the offence is committed the minimum sentence is a 4 month Detention and Training Order.

For an offence to be a first strike it has to be for possession of a knife or offensive weapon or can also be a conviction for threatening with a knife or offensive weapon. It does not matter when this offence has occurred but the second strike must have occurred on or after 17 July 2015 for the minimum sentence to apply.

This means that when a Judge is sentencing an offender for a second strike of this nature they must impose the minimum sentence unless the Court is aware of circumstances relating to this offence, the previous offence or the offender which would make it unjust in all circumstances.

The new legislation also creates a minimum sentence for a conviction for threatening with a knife or offensive weapon. This type of offence would count as a first strike under the two strike provisions but in itself would also attract the minimum sentences as already described.

Peter Hampson, Head of the Criminal Department observes “These changes are a reaction to the recent spate of knife crime in London, and are a harsh one at that. It will be interesting to see how often Solicitors/Barristers are able to persuade Tribunals that it would be unjust to impose the minimum sentence.”

You can email us any queries you may have regarding this change.

Click here to see further information from the Criminal Team.


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