Criminal Offences

Drug Manufacture

Under section 24(1) of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act, 1985 (NSW) Manufacture Prohibited Drug is a criminal offence and is defined as a person who manufactures or produces, or knowingly takes part in the manufacture or production of a substance listed under Schedule 1 of the same act. From a legal standpoint, manufacture has been defined in the act as the process and extracting or refining a prohibited substance, and therefore may reflect numerous activities. For example, an individual who provides or arranges finances to cover the costs associated with the manufacturing process could face drug manufacturing charges.

In order to be found guilty in relation to drug manufacture or production, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was manufacturing or producing prohibited substances or was aware of and took part in the manufacturing or production process. It also must be proven by the prosecution that the substance that the accused produced, or assisted in the production of, is a prohibited substance as per schedule 1 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act, 1985 (NSW).

As a result of the rising prevalence of makeshift drug laboratories, Courts in NSW deem drug manufacturing as a serious criminal offence. It is also important to understand that the quantity of drugs that are manufactured or produced plays a significant role in sentencing. For example, small quantities of prohibited drugs (i.e.: 1 gram of cocaine, 0.25 grams of Ecstasy or 1 gram of Heroin) attract a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,500. Meanwhile, large commercial quantities (i.e.: 1kg of cocaine, 500 grams of Ecstasy or 1kg of Heroin) attract more substantial consequences of life imprisonment and/or a fine of $550,000.


There is a range of penalties that may be imposed on guilty offenders, largely dependant on the quantity of prohibited substance found by Police. In order to determine the most appropriate sentence, the Court will take into consideration the circumstances surrounding the offence and past criminal history, which can greatly impact outcomes. Typically, the Court will consider the quantity of the drug, method of manufacture, financial gains, and if there was more than one person involved, and the accused’s role in the process. For drug manufacturing charges, the most serious penalty imposed is a maximum fine of $550,000, forfeiture of assets and/or life imprisonment, however, this is typically reserved for those found with large commercial quantities as can be seen below.

Small Quantity: The maximum penalty associated with drug manufacture of small quantities is a fine of $5,500 and/or 2 years imprisonment.

Indictable Quantity: If found guilty of drug manufacture with indictable quantities, the Court can impose a maximum penalty of $220,000 and/or 15 years in gaol.

Commercial Quantity: Commercial quantities of prohibited substances attracts a maximum penalty of $385,00 and/or 20 years imprisonment. A non-parole period of 10 years also applies if found guilty of producing commercial quantities of prohibited substances.

Large Commercial Quantity: Most seriously, large commercial quantities of illegal drugs attract 5,500 penalty points (equating to $550,000) and/or life in prison. A non-parole period of 15 years also applies if found guilty of producing large commercial quantities of prohibited substances.

The court may also impose penalties such as good behaviour bonds, community service orders, suspended sentences, intensive correction orders and home detention. There are also additional charges that individuals may face if it found a child has been exposed to the manufacturing process, which incurs a maximum penalty of 18 years imprisonment. Should you be facing such a charge, our Sydney and Parramatta based criminal defence lawyers can assess your circumstances and advise on the penalties that you may face if found guilty.

To schedule a consultation, call (02) 9283 3033.


If you tend to agree with the charges of drug manufacturing and production, and the prosecution to prove this charge beyond a reasonable doubt, you have the option to plead guilty. This will result in criminal conviction and can attract the penalties listed above.

However, it is also important to consider that a guilty plea is looked at favourably in the judicial system as it demonstrates remorse by the offender. As a result of this, the Court may award reduced sentences depending on the circumstances.

For the best advice, please contact our dedicated criminal defence lawyers to schedule a confidential consultation.


Should you plead not guilty to the charges of drug manufacture, the prosecution will need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you are guilty of manufacturing or have participated in the manufacture of prohibited substances as per the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act. If this cannot be proven, a conviction will not be recorded.

However, if the prosecution is able to successfully prove that you were manufacturing or involved in the manufacturing process of drugs in any way, you are likely to be convicted of drug manufacturing charges. This is unless the claims can be dismissed by the following defences.

Due to the very serious nature of such charges, it is recommended that individuals seek the expertise of dedicated and knowledgeable criminal defence lawyers. As Sydney based drug lawyers, Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders have a wealth of experience defending various drug charges and are dedicated to achieving the best outcome possible.

Call now for a confidential consultation.


At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we are Sydney based drug lawyers with years of experience defending clients in relation to various drug charges. Some of the criminal defences that may be used to dismiss a guilty verdict include:

Duress: Involves the use of harmful threats that depict death or grievous bodily harm which may coerce the accused to partake in illegal activities that they would not have if the threats had not been made.

Necessity: Often confused with duress, necessity is concerned with situations in which imminent danger by human or natural forces may justify criminal behaviour. For this defence to be used either by yourself or a criminal defence lawyer, it must be proven that the criminal act 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.


Depending on the quantity manufactured, matters will be heard at various Courts in NSW. Small or traffickable quantities of prohibited substances will generally be heard at a Local Court  if dealt with summarily. However, if the circumstances surrounding the case are more serious in nature, it may be heard at a District Court.

Meanwhile, indictable or commercial quantities are perceived to be more serious in nature and will typically be heard at a District Court. Again, some situations may warrant the case to be heard at the Supreme Court. Your criminal defence lawyer will be able to advise you on the Court location during your case.