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knuckle dustersIn Australia, the possession, sale, and importation of knuckle dusters are illegal across the entire country. These devices are classified as prohibited weapons under various legislation, including the Weapons Prohibition Act of 1998, which aims to regulate and control dangerous weapons and implements.

What are Knuckle Dusters?

Knuckle dusters are small, compact weapons that are typically made of metal, hardened plastic, or other rigid materials. They feature finger holes that allow the wearer to slide their fingers inside, positioning the device across the knuckles. The primary purpose of knuckle dusters is to increase the impact and potential damage inflicted during hand-to-hand combat or physical altercations.

Possessing Prohibited Weapon Charges in NSW

In New South Wales, the possession of knuckle dusters is a criminal offence. The relevant charge is possessing a prohibited weapon. The penalties for possessing prohibited weapons, including knuckle dusters, can be severe and may result in significant fines and imprisonment. The specific charges and penalties depend on the circumstances and intent of the possession.


Possession of a Prohibited Weapon


Under Section 7 of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998, it is an offence to possess a prohibited weapon, which includes knuckle dusters, without a lawful excuse. The offence carries a maximum penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment. The legislation states:


(1) A person must not possess or use a prohibited weapon unless the person is authorised to do so by a permit.

Maximum penalty: imprisonment for 14 years.

(2) Without limiting the operation of subsection (1), a person who is the holder of a permit to possess or use a prohibited weapon is guilty of an offence under this section if the person:

(a) possesses or uses the prohibited weapon for any purpose otherwise than in connection with the purpose established by the person as being the genuine reason for possessing or using the weapon, or

(b) contravenes any condition of the permit.


The offence encompasses the possession or use of a prohibited weapon by a permit holder for any purpose other than the “genuine reason” stated when obtaining the permit.


Schedule 1 of the Act includes an extensive list of prohibited weapons, which consists of:


  • Flick knives, ballistic knives, and sheath knives
  • Star knives, butterfly knives, trench knives, and push daggers
  • Bombs, grenades, rockets, missiles, and any device that propels or launches a weapon
  • Items that contain or expel explosives, incendiary substances, irritants, gases, or smoke
  • Spear guns shorter than 45cm in length
  • Crossbows and slingshots (excluding those designed as children’s toys)
  • Blow-guns, blow-pipes, and darts that can be projected from them
  • Maces (except ceremonial), and flails
  • Whips that incorporate metal parts and cat-o’-nine tails
  • Nunchakus (excluding those designed as children’s toys)
  • Side-handle batons (excluding those designed as children’s toys), extended and telescopic batons
  • Tasers and handheld devices that administer electric shocks
  • Knuckle-dusters, sap gloves, and studded gloves
  • Pepper spray and other devices capable of discharging irritants
  • Body armour vests, including “bulletproof” vests
  • Acoustic or light-emitting devices intended to disorient or incapacitate
  • Handcuffs (excluding those designed as children’s toys and those that can be released by the wearer)
  • Laser pointers with an output exceeding 1 milliwatt
  • Portable tire deflation devices and silencers

Please note that this list is comprehensive but not exhaustive, as it includes various items classified as prohibited weapons under the Act.


Supplying or Acquiring a Prohibited Weapon


Engaging in activities related to supplying or acquiring prohibited weapons, including knuckle dusters, is also a serious offence. If found guilty, individuals may face significant fines and imprisonment, with penalties increasing for subsequent offences.

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What the Police must Prove Against You

In order to secure a conviction for a charge of possessing a prohibited weapon, the NSW Police must establish, beyond reasonable doubt:


  1. That you had actual possession or usage of a weapon classified as prohibited according to the definitions outlined in Schedule 1 of the Weapons Prohibition Act;
  2. That the possession or usage occurred without a valid permit; and/or
  3. Alternatively, if you possessed or used the weapon under a permit, it was in violation of the terms and conditions specified in the permit or not related to the legitimate purpose for which the permit was granted.

In essence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you unlawfully possessed or used a prohibited weapon, either without any permit or in contravention of the permit’s terms or genuine purpose.

Legal Defences Available to You

There are several potential defences available for a charge of possessing a prohibited weapon. These defences include, but are not limited to:




You can argue that possessing the prohibited weapon was necessary to prevent a greater harm or danger.




You can claim that you possessed the weapon under the threat or coercion of another person.




You can assert that you possessed the weapon for the purpose of protecting yourself or others from imminent harm or danger.


Lawful authorisation


You can present evidence that you were lawfully authorised to possess the weapon, such as having a valid permit or license.




You can argue that you are exempt from the requirement to hold a permit based on specific circumstances or a particular legal provision.

Penalty in NSW for Possession of a Prohibited Weapon

In New South Wales (NSW), the offence of possessing a prohibited weapon carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.


The Weapons Prohibition Act of 1998 outlines the requirements for individuals to obtain permits for weapons, and it also specifies situations where individuals may be exempt from holding a permit.


In NSW, the court has the discretion to impose any of the following penalties for this charge:


  • Prison Sentence
  • Intensive Corrections Order (ICO)
  • Community Corrections Orders (CCO)
  • Fine
  • Section 10A
  • Conditional Release Order (CRO)
  • Section 10

If you acknowledge that you have committed the offence and the police can substantiate it, it is advisable to enter a guilty plea. By doing so, you are likely to receive a sentence reduction of 25%, demonstrating remorse and contrition. Our team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can negotiate on your behalf with the prosecutors to plead guilty to less severe circumstances or even a lesser charge.


In the Local Court of NSW, charges of possessing a prohibited firearm carry a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment, while in the District Court of NSW, the maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment. These penalties are typically reserve for the most serious offenders.


Our Parramatta criminal lawyers have a reputation for securing non-convictions, which means avoiding a criminal record, even in cases where a guilty plea is entered.


Accordingly, knuckle dusters are illegal to possess, sell, or import in Australia, including in New South Wales. They are classified as prohibited weapons under the relevant legislation, and charges related to possessing prohibited weapons can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment. It is essential to understand and abide by the laws regarding weapons and implements to avoid legal consequences and to prioritise personal safety within the boundaries of the law.


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