Under section 25 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW) Supply of a Prohibited Drug is a criminal offence and is defined as a person who supplies or knowingly partakes in the supply of a substance listed under Schedule 1 of the same act. This offence can attract a variety of penalties, all dependant on the particular substance and the quantity discovered. The Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW) stipulates the penalties associated with traffickable, indictable, commercial and large commercial quantities for each specific illicit substance, however, the most serious penalty that can be applied in relation to drug supply attracts a maximum fine of $550,000 and/or life imprisonment.
In order to effectively understand the potential implications associated with drug supply charges, it is important to understand the classifications that the Police and Court will use to determine the penalty.
Small Quantity: A small quantity of illicit substances is typically the least serious drug charge. If you are found with a small quantity of prohibited drugs (i.e. 30g of Cannabis Leaf, 1g of Cocaine or 1g of Ice) a person will normally be charged with the less serious ‘drug possession‘ offence.
Traffickable Quantity: Meanwhile, according to the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985, drug possession may result in drug supply charges should an individual be found with an amount that is equal to or more than the ‘traffickable quantity’ set out in the Act. For example, 300g of cannabis leaf, 3g of cocaine or 3 g of Ice. If you are found to have prohibited drugs which weigh more than the trafficable quantity, the Police may charge you with a “deemed” supply charge. Therefore, as a result, this charge carries slightly higher penalties compared to small quantity charges.
Indictable Quantity: The Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 also specifies the quantity of illicit drugs that are considered ‘indictable’. Unlike the previous classifications, indictable quantities are deemed to be a serious crime and are usually dealt with in the District Court and there are significant penalties. For example, if an individual is found with more than 1kg of cannabis leaf, 5g of cocaine or 5g of ice, this is considered an indictable quantity.
Commercial Quantities: The most serious drug supply charges are in relation to commercial quantities of illicit substances. As per the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 quantities of 25kg of cannabis leaf, 250g of cocaine or 250g of Ice are considered to be a commercial quantity. Meanwhile, 100kg of cannabis leaf, 1kg of cocaine or 500g of ice is defined as a large commercial quantity and attracts the most significant penalty.
In order to be found guilty in relation to drug supply, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that individuals were involved in the selling and distribution of drugs, including agreeing to supply or offering to supply prohibited drugs, as well as keeping or having in possession for supply. An individual can also be charged with drug supply if it can be proved they were involved in the sending, forwarding, delivering, receiving or directing of the supply.
Depending on the quantity found, there is a broad range of penalties that can be enforced if individuals are found guilty of drug supply. The Court will also consider past criminal history and the circumstance surrounding the charge to determine the appropriate sentence. The most serious penalty for drug possession is a maximum fine of $550,000 and/or life imprisonment and is reserved for those found with large commercial quantities as can be seen below.
Traffickable Quantity: The maximum penalty associated with drug supply of traffickable quantities is $11,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment.
Indictable Quantity: If found guilty of drug supply with indictable quantities, the Court can impose a maximum penalty of $220,000 and/or 15 years imprisonment in the District Court. If the matter is dealt with the Local Court, then the maximum penalty will be $11,000 fine and /or 2 years imprisonment.
Commercial Quantity: Commercial quantities of prohibited substances attract a maximum penalty of $385,00 and/or 20 years imprisonment.
Large Commercial Quantity: Most seriously, large commercial quantities of illegal drugs carries a fine of up to $550,000 and/or life imprisonment.
If appropriate, the Court may enforce other penalties such as good behaviour bonds, community service orders, periodic detention or suspended sentences. In some instance, matters may even be dealt with by the means of a Section 10 dismissal, in which our expert criminal defence lawyers have been able to argue on your behalf that no penalty or conviction should be imposed.
A guilty plea will more than likely result in a conviction and a term of imprisonment. Although a guilty plea can attract significant penalties, it is important to get the best advice so that your sentence can be prepared properly.
Please contact our dedicated criminal defence lawyers to schedule a FREE confidential consultation.
Should you plead not guilty to the charges of drug supply, the prosecution will need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you are, in fact, guilty of supplying a prohibited drug. If this cannot be adequately proved, a drug supply conviction will not be recorded. If they are able to successfully prove this is the case, you are likely to be convicted of drug supply. In order to achieve the best possible outcome, you should seek the expertise of our professional and experienced Sydney based drug lawyers at Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders.
There are a variety of criminal law defences that a drug lawyer may raise on the accused’s behalf in relation to drug supply charges. These defences include:
Duress: Involves the use of harmful threats to coerce an individual to participate in an activity that they would be unlikely to participate in, should they have not received the threats. Typically, these threats take the form of death or grievous bodily harm in which it is firmly believed that by the accused that if they do not participate in the activity, the threat will take place.
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.
Other: Our Sydney based drug lawyers may also be able to successfully argue that an accused individual was merely holding drugs for another, with the intention of giving them back as seen in the case R v Carey (1990) 20 NSWLR 292 in which the defence has been deemed the “Carey Defence”.
Due to the variability associated with drug supply, matters may be heard in Courts. Less serious offences associated with small or traffickable quantities are typically heard at a Local Court, while the more significant cases associated with indictable and commercial quantities are generally heard at the District Court.
Although we are based in Parramatta and Sydney, our expert criminal defence law firm has a wealth of practice in various Local, District and Supreme Courts in NSW and can effectively represent clients regardless of location.