When a judge decides a sentence for assault, the use of a highly dangerous weapon is considered an aggravating factor. This means it will increase the severity of the sentence.

But what, exactly, is a ‘highly dangerous weapon’? The Court of Appeal was asked to consider this very question recently, and it provides a useful insight regarding sentencing law.

Criminal defence lawyers

Remember, you are entitled to free legal representation at a police station. You are also allowed to instruct a criminal defence lawyer to represent you throughout proceedings. Contact us now for a free initial enquiry. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Four-to-six-inch blades

In the case that went before the Court of Appeal, the court was asked whether a kitchen knife with a four to six-inch blade fell within the definition of a ‘highly dangerous weapon’.

The Sentencing Guidelines state that: “a highly dangerous weapon can include weapons such as knives and firearms … the court must determine whether the weapon or weapon equivalent is highly dangerous on the facts and circumstances of the case.”

The Court of Appeal decided that “the use of a knife with a blade of any significant length in order to attack the neck of another is to use it as a highly dangerous weapon”.

It depends on the ‘facts and circumstances of the case’

This judgment shows that it is the circumstances of the case that really matter. Here, a kitchen knife is being used on the neck – making it capable of being a ‘highly dangerous weapon’.

The Court of Appeal went on to say that: “The neck is comprised of a series of arteries surrounded by soft tissue which is easily penetrated by a blade. In the facts and circumstances of this case we are left in no doubt that a kitchen knife with a blade between four and six inches can fall within the definition of a highly dangerous weapon, subject to the facts and circumstances of the case.”

Therefore, a weapon that might otherwise be fairly innocent could be considered a highly dangerous weapon, where it is used to inflict harm on a sensitive body site – be it the neck, the eye or other major arteries.

Charged with assault?

If you have been charged with assault, it is important to have a legal expert on your side. Our criminal defence solicitors can represent you throughout proceedings. This is particularly important in cases of aggravated assault, especially where a weapon was involved. The legal guidelines require the courts to pass harsher sentences where a weapon is used to facilitate an assault. You need to put a strong defence forward, including any mitigating circumstances.

Contact our criminal defence lawyers

If you have been accused of a criminal offence, contact us now for free legal advice.

Call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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