The recent Bondi Westfield knife attack leading to 6 fatalities and multiple others injured, has cast a dark shadow of loss and mourning throughout Australia and has brought to public conversation the importance of safety from weapons such as knives.

A couple of days after the Bondi tragedy, news broke of a knife attack against a Bishop in the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church, where multiple people were injured. This event in combination with the Westfield attack, has spread fear among many Australians in regard to their safety in public due to an increased prevalence of knife attacks.

This leaves many to question, does the law protect its citizens from individuals dangerously carrying knives in public? And is there anything else the law can realistically and practically do to maximize protection?

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This blog post will discuss the offence of the actual possession of a knife in public. This offence would be held in combination with other offences such as murder or assault occasioning actual bodily harm, depending on what the accused did with the knife and the harm which they caused.

Find out more about murder by clicking here.

Find out more about assault occasioning actual bodily harm by clicking here.



Section 93IB of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) is the legislation bounding the carrying of knives in both public places and schools. Section 93IB(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 states

(1) A person must not have in the person’s custody a knife in a public place or a school.

: Maximum penalty–40 penalty units or imprisonment for 4 years, or both.

However, it is important to note that this is solely for the offence of the actual carrying of the knife. Offences carried in conjunction with this offence can impact the maximum sentence. One example is murder which has a maximum sentence of life imprisonment or 25 years imprisonment.

The law does outline some exceptions to this rule as outlined in Section 93IB(2), 93IB(3), and 93IB(4) of the Crimes Act 1900 which state.

(2) It is a defence to an offence under subsection (1) if the accused person proves the person had a reasonable excuse.

(3) A reasonable excuse includes the person having the knife in the person’s custody–

(a) because it is reasonably necessary for–

(i) the lawful pursuit of the person’s occupation, education or training, or

(ii) the preparation or consumption of food or drink, or

(iii) participation in a lawful entertainment, recreation or sport, or

(iv) the exhibition of knives for retail or other trade purposes, or

(v) an organised exhibition by knife collectors, or

(vi) the wearing of an official uniform, or

(vii) genuine religious purposes, or

(b) because it is reasonably necessary during travel to or from or incidental to an activity referred to in paragraph (a), or

(c) in circumstances prescribed by the regulations.

(4) It is not a reasonable excuse for the person to have a knife in the person’s custody–

(a) for self-defence, or

(b) for the defence of another person.


Whilst the law does establish clear exemptions, it also establishes that the need for self-defence or other protection does not justify the action of carrying the weapon.

The law is strict in regard to the limited exceptions to which a knife can be carried in public, with immense clarity so as to not allow any misunderstandings or misinterpretations.


Should The Law Change?

Whilst many individuals would place knives in the category of weapons, especially after the recent events both at the Church, and Bondi Westfield, it is important to note restrictions and bans such as those placed on guns in Australia are not practical to be placed on knives.

This is due to the mass use of knives in everyday life, from cooking, to being used in restaurants. Placing restrictions on how knives are to be stored would also be impractical due to the difficulty in its enforcement for police and law enforcement.



A recent client of National Criminal Lawyers ® had been charged with behaving in an offensive manner in/near public place/school along with the charge of the Custody of knife in public place. Our client had gotten into an altercation with an individual after attacking their dog numerous times, before threatening to stab the dog with a small knife which he was holding.

As part of his matter, our client had completed an anger management course, along with writing an apology letter and collecting numerous character references. These factors acted as mitigating circumstances in his matter to show remorse and regret before the Court.

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Our client had entered a plea of guilty to the charge of Custody of the knife in public place. Our client was sentenced to a Conditional Release Order for the period of 6 months during which they must not reoffend and must be of good behaviour and must appear before the Court if called to do so.

It is important to however note that the client never actually used the knife in any physical way other than to threaten.

It is also important to note that given the recent attacks, Courts are more likely to push harsher sentences as a form of deterrence to the community.

If you find yourself being charged with carrying a knife in public, it is critical that you seek urgent legal advice. Contact the skilled Lawyers here at National Criminal Lawyers ® by clicking here.

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