What happens if you are charged with a drug offence in Australia?
The laws in Australia relating to the trafficking, sale, and possession of illicit drugs are strict, they threaten harsh fines and even jail time for the individuals involved. If you are charged with a drug offence you will need to consult or appoint a criminal defence lawyer to help you in presenting an effective defence. This is important as drug offences range in their severity but, like most criminal activities, are highly scrutinised by the legal system.
What is considered a drug offence?
There are a wide range of drug related offences which individuals can be charged with if suspected of or caught by law enforcement. In Australia, various drug offences can be issued to persons who break drug laws. Penalties for drug offences, from possessing small amounts of drugs for personal use, to large scale illicit drug manufacturing and distribution operations, carry penalties including large fines and even prison time.
Examples of drug related offences that are common for individuals to face include:
- Personal Possession
- Assisting Others
- Supply or Manufacturer
- Drug Driving
If you are suspected of committing a drug offence, then it is vital that you acquire the services of an experienced drug offence lawyer immediately. Appointing an experienced criminal defence lawyer, who has been successful in defending drug charges in Sydney, will give you the best chance at a favourable outcome when defending a drug charge.
In order to get a conviction for a personal possession drug charge in Australia, the following will need to be proven by the police:
- Knowledge: You must have prior knowledge that the substance/s in your possession are illegal drugs.
- Custody: Custody refers to someone holding illicit drugs on their person or otherwise in their possession. For example, in a pocket, bag, car, or home.
- Control: Meaning that you are in control of what happens to the drugs while they are in your possession. Such as having the option to consume, sell or move the drugs.
If you are an individual user and purchase drugs for your personal use only, then it is likely that you will only be charge with drug possession. However, depending on the amount of drugs you have in your possession, you could be charged with drug trafficking.
A drug trafficking charge refers directly to the quantity of illegal drugs being held. If the total weight measured exceeds the maximum personal amount, then you could be charged with trafficking, even if trafficking wasn’t your intention.
If you provide assistance to someone else in planning or carrying out a drug offence you may be charged for your involvement. For example if your actions saw you:
- Taking part: Even if you are not profiting from the drug offence. If you take part, you will face drug charges. ‘Taking part’ includes providing financial assistance, providing transportation, etc.
- Being an accessory: Persons who do not directly handle the drugs can still be charged as an accessory to the offence. For example; if you were to keep watch whilst the drug offence is taking place.
- Aiding and abetting or inciting: Anyone who encourages someone else to commit a drug offence or offers them an incentive to do so, will be charged with aiding, abetting or inciting a drug offence.
- Involved in a conspiracy to commit, or attempting to commit an offence: Even if the drug offence hasn’t yet been committed you can still be charged for intending, planning, and attempting to commit a drug offence.
Supply and Manufacture
You could be charged with supplying drugs if you are found in possession of a quantity of drugs with the intent of supply. You can also be charged with supplying drugs if you were to take part in a drug supply operation. This may include introducing someone to a drug dealer, even if a drug deal does not take place.
Additionally, if any materials or components that are used to create drugs; including evidence that drugs are being made or have been made by you or on your property, you can be issued with charges related to drug manufacturing. For example, if you were found to be in possession of a number of Marijuana plants or had the equipment/ingredients required to assemble illicit pills.
If you were to be caught operating a motor vehicle on the road, whilst under the influence of a prohibited drug you will be charged with a drug driving offence.
Police are able to carry out roadside drug testing, just as they do with alcohol testing. An oral drug test requires the driver to lick a testing device in order to determine if the driver has consumed illegal drugs. These saliva tests can positively identify traces of Cannabis, Methylamphetamine or MDMA.
What are the penalties for drug crimes in Australia?
If you have been charged with a drug related offence it is important to seek advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer immediately. A criminal defence lawyer will be able to explain the processes involved and clearly outline what to expect. The penalties for drug offences in Sydney can be harsh, so understanding everything about the charge/s you are facing will give you the confidence and clarity you may need to establish an effective defence.
The penalties for drug offences in Australia are serious but do range from lower end fines and jail time to huge fines and significant imprisonment. For example, a personal possession drug charge could mean a penalty of a few thousand dollars and 2 years imprisonment, whereas supplying drugs or manufacturing drugs can involve much harsher fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and up to life in prison.
Drug offences are very serious and can be a highly stressful and anxious time for you and your family. If you find yourself in need of a lawful defence of a drug charge, only a reputable and experienced drug offence lawyer will be able to provide you with a good chance at achieving a favourable outcome.
Benjamin Leonardo are drug offence lawyers in Sydney and are conveniently located near the district courts. They understand the strain that drug offence cases have on their clients and families alike and provide sympathetic, non-judgemental advice and support to their clients. Having defended more than 3,800 cases and with a success rate of over 90%, Benjamin Leonardo offers drug charge defence services in Sydney and provides their clients with informed legal advice and flexible payment terms. If you have been charged with a drug offence, please contact Benjamin Leonardo on (02) 9283 3033, for your first FREE Consultation.