Crime blog: What are the minimum sentences for knife offences?

By Amarpal Singh, Solicitor

I remember when I was growing up, I would be out with my friends playing football, going wherever I wanted, and all my parents would ask was that I was “back before dark”. My parents may have been a little naïve about what was going on in the world, but in past decades, many parents were more relaxed about their children’s whereabouts.

Now, it seems that the days of letting children play on the streets unsupervised are gone. We live in a society where we’re more aware than ever of the dangers outside, including rising concerns around gang culture and in particular “knife culture”.

Knife offences: The consequences

Many clients that I have represented for carrying a bladed article never have any intention to use it. They simply carry it for “protection”. However, carrying a weapon for protection is not a defence. They may be more likely to receive a lesser punishment than someone who actually uses it for violence, but it is still a serious offence and one that the courts are sentencing on more harshly.

The growing problem of knife culture in society has resulted in the government imposing a mandatory minimum sentence on being caught for the second time with a bladed article. Love them or hate them, mandatory minimum sentences are not going anywhere fast. They do not take into account personal circumstances either, so if you’re caught, you’re caught.

The new law states that if a person is caught with a knife for the second time they must serve a minimum of six months in custody. In many cases, that is the maximum sentence the Magistrates Court can impose, so there is a likelihood that the case can progress to the Crown Court where the sentence could be even higher, with a maximum sentence for four years.

It is important to point out that age is a factor. A person over 18 years of age will have to serve a minimum six month custodial sentence if found guilty of carrying a bladed article for a second time. But young people don’t get off lightly. A person aged between 16 and 18 who is convicted for the second time for this offence must a serve minimum of four months in a youth detention centre with a training order. Except for murder, this is the only offence in English law with a mandatory minimum sentence for youths.

In some cases the court can deem that if it is “unjust” to do so, then mandatory minimum sentences do not have to be used. However, this argument may only apply in extreme circumstances, for example, where there is a significant number of years between the convictions of both offences.

Switalskis Criminal Defence team has a wealth of experience representing clients charged with knife-related offences. They provide advice and representation to clients from police station through to Crown Court. For expert advice on sentencing and representation please don’t hesitate to contact the team on 0800 138 0458.


Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice, and the law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice on their own particular circumstances.