6. Questions and answers
What are the differences between the offences of possession of offensive weapons at public meetings and processions (s.33 Public Order Ordinance) and possession of offensive weapon with intent (s.17 Summary Offences Ordinance)?
The scope of prohibited items under s.17 of the Summary Offences Ordinance is wider than that under s.33 of the Public Order Ordinance. S.17 of the Summary Offences Ordinance also prohibits items that are strictly speaking not offensive weapons but instead items used to restrain another person (e.g. handcuffs), items that can be used to cause property damage (e.g. crowbar), and items that can be used to gain unlawful access (e.g. skeleton-key).
Both sections provide for the similar prohibition to carry offensive weapons in public, with s.17 of the Summary Offences Ordinance carrying a lesser sentence. However, it is within the discretion of the prosecutorial authority to choose which section under which a charge will be laid.
Also, the s.33 of the Public Order Ordinance offence is an excepted offence, which means the Courts are not allowed to pass a suspended sentence on a convicted defendant while the s.17 of the Summary Offences Ordinance is not an excepted offence.