Tasers, also known as conducted electrical weapons (CEWs), have gained popularity as non-lethal self-defence devices around the world. However, their legal status can vary from country to country.
In the state of New South Wales, possessing or utilising a taser gun is subject to a maximum punishment of 14 years imprisonment, as stipulated in section 7(1) of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW). If the case is concluded in the local court, the court is limited to imposing a maximum sentence of 2 years in jail.
Permits are typically only granted for law enforcement or governmental purposes.
Within New South Wales, tasers are authorised for use by regular police officers and specialised officers affiliated with the Riot Squad or Tactical Operations Unit. Police officers in NSW are only allowed to possess and utilise tasers in connection with their duties as law enforcement personnel.
If a law enforcement officer unlawfully deploys a taser, they will be violating the criminal offence of possessing or utilising a taser, as stated in section 7(1) mentioned earlier. This carries severe consequences, including a criminal record, and is regarded with great seriousness by the judiciary.
Since the discharge of a taser constitutes the application of force, it can only be employed by police officers in compliance with the legislation outlined in Part 18 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002.
What are the circumstances in which the police in NSW can use a Taser?
As stated in section 231 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002, a police officer is allowed to use force that is reasonably necessary to apprehend a person or prevent their escape after they have been arrested, when carrying out the power of arrest.
Section 230 of the same Act permits the police to use force that is reasonably necessary to carry out other important functions within their powers, such as issuing a move on direction.
As per the guidelines set by the NSW Police, officers have the authority to use tasers based on their own judgment, after carefully evaluating the circumstances and determining if it is reasonably necessary.
These guidelines outline the permissible reasons for employing tasers, which include safeguarding human life, defending oneself or others when faced with or expecting violent confrontation or resistance, ensuring the safety of an officer(s) who may be at risk of being overwhelmed, and providing protection from animals.
New South Wales and Victoria
In both New South Wales and Victoria, tasers are classified as prohibited weapons, and possession without the necessary permits is illegal. However, in 2018, NSW introduced a legislative amendment allowing police officers to carry tasers without a special permit.
Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia
Tasers are classified as controlled weapons in these states. This means that tasers are not considered prohibited, but they still require a valid permit or licence for possession.
In Queensland, the possession of Tasers for personal protection is generally restricted to security personnel or those with a lawful excuse.
Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Tasmania
Tasers are currently classified as prohibited weapons in these jurisdictions. The possession, use, sale, or importation of Tasers is strictly regulated and generally prohibited, except for authorised law enforcement agencies.
Considerations and Restrictions
Regardless of the legal status, tasers are typically prohibited for possession or use by individuals under a certain age. The age restrictions may vary between states, with most jurisdictions requiring individuals to be 18 years or older. For jurisdictions where tasers are legal with permits or licences, the process usually involves background checks, training requirements, and a genuine reason for possessing or using Tasers. The issuing authority may consider factors such as personal security threats, professional roles, or special circumstances.
Even when tasers are legally possessed, their use is subject to strict guidelines. Using a taser in a manner that exceeds reasonable force or in non-defensive situations may still lead to legal consequences and be criminally responsible for their actions.
Tasers are subject to specific legal regulations in Australia. The legal status of Tasers varies across different states and territories, ranging from prohibited weapons to controlled weapons requiring permits or licenses. Understanding the specific legislation within one’s jurisdiction is crucial to ensure compliance with the law and to ensure a person is not criminally liable.
In Australia, self-defence laws are primarily governed by state and territory legislation, which may have slight variations across jurisdictions. Generally, the right to self-defence is recognised under Australian law, allowing individuals to use reasonable force to protect themselves and others from harm.
However, the concept of reasonable force is central to determining the legality of using tasers for self-defence purposes.
Tasers are classified as prohibited weapons in most Australian states and territories. Prohibited weapons are generally restricted and require specific permits or licenses for possession or use. The classification of Tasers can vary, with some jurisdictions treating them as firearms, while others consider them as controlled weapons.
Accordingly, tasers cannot be used in NSW to raise the defence of self defence, or that you acted in self defence.
If you have been charged with an weapons offence in NSW and require legal advice. You should contact our parramatta criminal lawyers. We will provide you with free 15 minute consultation.