Under section 307 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995, importation of border controlled drugs is a federal offence with very serious penalties. In accordance with The Criminal Code Regulation 2002, Schedule 4 outlines the various quantities associated with each border controlled substance which greatly impact sentencing should an individual be found guilty. As a result, drug importation charges are broken down into two categories which reflect the quantities found. These categories are defined as commercial and marketable and have varied, yet still significant penalties. Importation of border controlled precursors is also a federal offence also attracting a range of penalties if found guilty.
The code defines drug importation as a person who imports or exports a substance, and the substance is a border controlled drug or border controlled plant. Therefore, in order to be found guilty of drug importation, the Police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual did import or export a substance and that this substance was a controlled plant or drug as specified in Schedule 4 of the Criminal Code Regulation 2002.
It is also important to be aware that in prominent drug importation cases, federal prosecutors rely on conspiracy provisions stipulated in section 11.5 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. This is because a crime of such a large scale is generally not committed by one individual, rather there are multiple parties working together. As a result, a person who conspires with another person to commit the offence of drug importation can also be charged. It is also not essential for prosecutors to have evidence of an actual importation; however, such confirmation will evidently strengthen their case.
Drug importation is considered one of the most serious offences in relation to all drug charges. As a result, these charges attract some of the highest penalties imposed by Australian Courts.
Australia’s Federal Prosecution Service or the CDPP (Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions) states that the maximum penalties for drug importance offences as follows:
Importing Commercial Quantity of Border Controlled Drugs: Life Imprisonment
Importing Marketable Quantity of Border Controlled Drugs: 25 years imprisonment
Importing Border Controlled Drugs: 10 years imprisonment
Meanwhile, the CDPP also stipulates that the maximum penalties in relation to importing border controlled precursors include:
Importing Commercial Quantity of Border Controlled Precursors: 25 years imprisonment
Importing Marketable Quantity of Border Controlled Precursors: 15 years imprisonment
Importing Border Controlled Precursors: 7 years imprisonment.
Furthermore, individuals who have been charged with drug importation yet have established a lack of commercial intent as described below, are still liable to hefty penalties as per section 307.4 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. This offence carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $44,000.
If you or someone you know has been charged with drug importation, it is best to seek legal advice from our criminal defence lawyers at Benjamin Leonardo to determine the most relevant penalties that may apply.
If you tend to agree with the drug importation charges made against you, and the federal prosecutors are able to prove your involvement beyond a reasonable doubt, you have the option to plead guilty. This will result in criminal conviction and can attract the penalties listed above. Drug importation is taken very seriously in the judiciary system, however, a guilty plea demonstrates your remorse and could result in a reduced sentence, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case and previous criminal history.
For the most accurate and honest advice, please contact our dedicated criminal defence lawyers to schedule a confidential consultation.
If you decide to plead not guilty to drug importation charges, federal prosecutors will need to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the importation charges set out against you as per section 307 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. If they are able to successfully prove this allegation, you are likely to be convicted in accordance with the above penalties unless the claims can be successfully dismissed by either yourself or our expert Sydney based criminal lawyers at Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders. Self-representation may not warrant the best outcomes in such a significant case and therefore seeking professional counsel and representation from drug lawyers who are experienced in this area is advised. Should you be represented by our thorough and expert criminal defence team we may aim to establish the below defences where appropriate.
Alternatively, if federal prosecutors are unable to successfully prove your involvement with drug importation as per section 307 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, you will not be awarded any penalties.
Duress: If it can be established that harmful threats such as death or grievous bodily harm were made against you, the defence of duress may be appropriate. This defence argues that as a result of the harmful threats, individuals have been coerced to participate in criminal activities that they would usually not have in order to protect themselves from the threats taking place.
Necessity: Similar to duress, the defence of necessity aims to establish that an individual participated in the illegal activity to protect themselves from danger from either a human or natural forces, which therefore can possibly justify criminal behaviour. In appropriate situations, this defence must prove that the criminal act (i.e.: importing drugs) was only undertaken in order to avoid consequences that are deemed as “irreparable evil”. The accused must also honestly believe that they were in a situation of “imminent peril” and had no other alternatives to avoid the threat.
Lack of Any Commercial Intent: The criminal code act also states that in appropriate instances, a lack of commercial intent may be a suitable defence. In order for this defence to be valuable, it must be proven on the balance of probabilities (more than likely) that the accused individual or another person did not intend to sell to imported border controlled substances.
In accordance with Commonwealth Law, drug importation is an indictable offence. As a result, and depending on the circumstances of the case, drug importation matters will be heard at either District or Supreme Courts.
As leading criminal defence lawyers based in Parramatta and Sydney, we have successfully represented numerous clients in relation to drug charges at various Local, District and Supreme Courts in NSW.