There can be a defence for carrying a bladed article in public
I was stopped the other day by the police and when they searched my bag they found a knife. I am homeless and therefore carry all my possessions with me. The knife is for cooking, I use it daily. I also had my sleeping bag in the bag and my clothes. I thought it was fine for me to carry my belongings with me as I have nowhere else I can store them. I was interviewed by the police and I tried to explain myself but I now have to attend Court next month. I’m really concerned as I’ve heard I could go to prison.
I am assuming you have been charged with an offence of possession of a bladed article. This is treated as a serious matter by the Court and, if convicted, the starting point is usually to consider a prison sentence.
There are a number of points the Prosecution must prove in order for you to be convicted of this offence, including that the item in your possession had a blade or was sharply pointed – a ‘bladed article’ – and that you had it in a public place, without a good reason or lawful authority.
A ‘bladed article’ is an item which has a blade or sharp point unless it is a folding pocket knife which has a blade of less than three inches in length. Even a blunt butter knife with no point and no cutting edge has a blade and is therefore considered a bladed article.
Based on the information you have provided, you may have a defence available to you in that you had a ‘good reason’ for carrying the knife, due to being homeless and carrying all of your possessions with you. Whether this would be accepted by the Court as a good reason would be an argument to advance during a trial. There are other possible defences to explore as well, including whether the knife seized from you qualifies as a ‘bladed article’ and whether you were in a public place.
Once you have explored any available defences you will need to decide whether you would like to have a trial. Your case could be sent for future hearings to the Crown Court if it is deemed to be sufficiently serious.
You should instruct a solicitor immediately to discuss your case and any defences available to you. You may be eligible for Legal Aid and a solicitor will be able to advise you in relation to this or any fees involved. To speak to a solicitor please contact Ben Hoare Bell LLP on 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected]. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.