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2. Possession of offensive weapon with intent (Section 17 Summary Offences Ordinance)

Anyone who has in his possession any wrist restraint or other instrument manufactured for the purpose of physically restraining a person, any handcuffs or thumbcuffs, any offensive weapon, or any crowbar, picklock, skeleton-key or other instrument fit for unlawful purposes, with intent to use for any unlawful purpose, is liable to a fine of $5,000 or to imprisonment for 2 years.


Offensive weapon means any article made, or adapted for use, or intended for causing injury to the person.


Even where an item is not an offensive weapon by itself, it can become an offensive weapon by reason of the intention of the possessor to use it as an offensive weapon.


The offence under this provision is not just targeted at offensive weapons but also handcuffs and other items used for restraining a person, and other items that can be used for unlawful purposes. Considering the specified items listed in this provision, e.g. crowbar, picklock etc., items that will assist in breaking into premises or vehicles will also likely be caught by this offence.


The meaning of this section vis-à-vis the type of offensive weapon should be interpreted narrowly. In stipulating ‘crowbars, picklocks skeleton keys’ and ‘other instruments fit for unlawful purposes’ in this section, the drafters of the section plainly specified a kind of instruments and envisaged offences limited to gaining unlawful access to premises, vehicles or other private property. An unrestricted construction of the section is contrary to this intention. Accordingly, 6-inch plastic cable ties fall outside the ambit of this section. (HKSAR v Chan Chun Kit (2022) 25 HKCFAR 191).


“Intent to use the same for any unlawful purpose”

The words “with intent to use the same for any unlawful purposes” must be understood to refer to an intent to use the offending article or instrument in a manner reflecting the stated use or purpose under the section and not to any unrestricted unlawful purpose. Where the intended use does not reflect the stated use or purpose, prosecution under this section would not succeed (HKSAR v. Chan Chun Kit (2022) 25 HKCFAR 191, [84]).