The possession, sale, supply or manufacture of illegal drugs is deemed a criminal offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1981. A prohibited drug covers a wide range of drugs and is set out in section 4 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1981, which includes but is not limited to:
- Ecstasy (MDMA, MDA)
- Performance enhancing drugs, and many more.
A term of imprisonment could result from serious drug offences. This can have damaging effects to your everyday life such as hindering your ability to get a job, apply for credit or even apply for visas for international travel. The seriousness of drug charges depends on a variety of factors. For example, drug possession for personal use carries a significantly lesser penalty than, for example, possession of drugs with intent to sell or supply, which carries a much higher penalty. The penalties in relation to drug offences are also influenced by the type and quantity of drugs. The Misuse of Drugs Act (WA) contains specific thresholds with respect to quantities of particular drugs which raise an inference as to whether or not a person is possessing drugs for the purposes of simple possession (personal use) or for the purposes of sale or supply and trafficking.
THE PROCESS FOR DRUG CHARGE DEFENCE
If you have been charged with a drug related offence, unlike other drug lawyers, we do not simply insist that you spend your money and time running your matter to trial. We will explore a number of different options with you to ensure a resolution of your matter is reached that is the most advantageous to you. For example, if you are charged in relation to possession of illicit drugs with intent to sell or supply, we will consider the particular circumstances of your matter and the evidence the prosecution have against you to determine whether or not the prosecution do in fact have evidence which establishes an intention to sell or supply. If you were in possession of the drugs but there is no evidence of sale and supply, we can prepare a formal submission to the police/the State seeking that your drug charges be downgraded to simple possession, which may be the difference between what was looking like a jail term to what would become only a fine.
There are also a number of diversionary options we can assist you to engage in if you are eligible, which may assist you at sentencing in the event you are eligible and are likely to enter pleas of guilty to all charges. For example, if your matters are remaining in the Magistrates Court, our drug charge lawyers can provide you with advice and arrange for you to attend the Pre-Sentence Opportunity Program. Or if your matters are proceeding in the District Court, we will give you advice, make an application for you and guide you through the Drug Court program. Upon successful completion of either program, this will significantly assist with the sentence that will be imposed which could open up the best possibility to suspend what would have otherwise been an immediate term of imprisonment imposed on you at sentencing of serious offences, ranging to the possibility of a spent conviction being imposed on you with respect to less serious offences.
It is important to obtain legal advice from a highly qualified drug lawyer in order to ensure you have the best possible outcomes. Please contact us so we can not only assess your situation but also guide you through it. We have experience advising and representing clients ranging from low level drug offences, such as possessing small quantities of drugs for personal use, to high level importations involving large quantities of drugs for commercial dealing. We are dedicated to achieving the best results for our clients no matter the circumstances.
PENALTIES FOR DRUG CHARGES
Drug charges are serious offences and the gravity of such offences are evident in their penalties. Outlined below are the maximum penalties for some of the different types of drug offences.
- Drug Paraphernalia: Maximum penalty = $36,000 fine and/or 3 years in prison
- Drug offence involving possession: Maximum penalty = $2000 fine and/or 2 years imprisonment.
- Drug Manufacture: Maximum penalty = $100,000 fine and/or 25 years in prison.
- Drug Supply and Trafficking: Maximum penalty for Cannabis = $20,000 fine and/or 10 years in prison
Maximum penalty for other drugs = $100,000 fine and/or 25 years in prison
DRUG OFFENCES FAQ
I bought drugs to use at a music festival and I gave some to my friend to use. Did I only possess the drugs or am I guilty of supplying drugs?
The law considers that any supply of illicit drugs, even if only to a friend, and for the purposes of their personal use and without you gaining a financial benefit (i.e. you did not sell the drugs to them), is in fact a supply and is considered to be a serious offence; it is not simple possession.
Can I be charged with possession or possession with intent to sell or supply illicit drugs even though the drugs were not physically in my possession?
Yes, according to the law it is possible to possess drugs or possess drugs with the intent to sell or supply, even if drugs are not physically in your possession, if you exercise dominion/control over the drugs. For example, if the drugs are buried in the backyard, concealed in the roof of your house etc.
The police have charged both myself and my partner with criminal offences in relation to the same quantity of drugs. Is this possible?
Yes, it is possible for 2 people to be able to exercise “dominion” and “control” over the same quantity of drugs and in certain circumstances, it is possible for 2 (or more people) to possess the same quantity of drugs at the same time.
My partner and I have both been charged with the same offences in relation to the same quantity of drugs. Is there any possibility that the charges against one of us can be discontinued?
Submissions have been made to the prosecution which result in one accused entering a plea of guilty to the charges, in exchange for the prosecution agreeing to discontinue the charges against the other accused.
I have a drug problem and have been charged with a criminal offence. I genuinely want to stop using drugs. Are there any court programs that can help me?
If your matter is proceeding in the Magistrates Court, and you indicate pleas of guilty to all charges, you may be eligible to engage in the Pre-Sentence Opportunity Program. If your matter is proceeding in the District Court and you indicate pleas of guilty to all charges, you may be eligible to engage in a Drug Court program. Both programs may require you to: engage in urinalysis, attend drug counselling and more, and can assist in your rehabilitation and lessen the penalty imposed upon you at sentence.
Does Sharleena Ramdhas Barrister & Solicitor accept grants of Legal Aid in relation to drug offences?
What are some of the factors the prosecution considers indicates an intent to sell or supply drugs?
If you are found in possession of drugs together with items such as, a tick list, scales, clip seal bags, the prosecution will likely suggest that those items are possessed for the intention of selling or supplying the illicit drugs. The prosecution may also download the contents of electronic items such as mobile phone to look for evidence, including text messages, photographs or access to websites, which may indicate the sale or supply of drugs from that phone. If none of these factors exist, it is possible for a submission to be made to the police/the State requesting that the consider downgrading your charge to simple possession.
I was only holding illicit drugs for my friend, but they didn’t belong to me. Am I still guilty of possessing the drugs?
Yes, it is possible that you were in possession of the drugs. Further, if the prosecution can establish that you were intending to provide the drugs back to your friend, you may be guilty of an offence of possession of illicit drugs with intent to sell or supply.
Will I be declared a drug trafficker as a result of my drug convictions?
Whether or not you will be declared a drug trafficker upon a conviction being entered with respect to a drugs charge will depend on:
- the number of prior drug convictions you have
- the quantities of drugs involved with respect to prior convictions
- the quantity of illicit drugs involved with respect to the current charge
A significant quantity of drugs involved in a charge can result in you being declared a drug trafficker even for a first offence.
Does being on drugs at the time of committing an offence provide a defence for me to a criminal charge?
If you voluntarily consumed the illicit drugs, it is unlikely there will be a defence available to you at law.
When the police charged me with drug offences, they confiscated my drugs. Will I get them back?
No. An order will be made by the court for any illicit drugs or drug paraphernalia (i.e. such as smoking implements – bong, pipe) to be destroyed at the conclusion of your matter (even if you are found not guilty).
The police have charged me in relation to drug offences and have also seized cash I had saying that it was unlawfully obtained. Can I get my money back?
Yes. It is possible for you to get your money back. You will need to be able to demonstrate that the money was not derived from a criminal offence (i.e. bank statements showing the money was earned from employment, selling an asset such as a car etc.).