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Case Study – Drug Supply: No Criminal Record at District Court Sentence

For drug offences, there is no more serious offence than supply. Maximum penalties can range from 10 years imprisonment through to life. Recently, Zoe Whetham, Associate at Streeton Lawyers,...

Janelle Tarabay

For drug offences, there is no more serious offence than supply. Maximum penalties can range from 10 years imprisonment through to life.

Recently, Zoe Whetham, Associate at Streeton Lawyers, completed a matter where her client had pleaded guilty to supplying 3.42g of MDMA.  As this quantity is above the indictable quantity of 1.25g, the matter was dealt in the District Court. The maximum penalty for this offence is 15 years imprisonment.

In an outstanding result for her client, he was sentenced without conviction.

Preparing for Sentence

Zoe worked closely with her client for many weeks to prepare for his sentence. She drafted written submissions which focused on the law relating to supply and sentencing principles. She also assisted her client with preparing appropriate personal material that was tendered to the judge at the sentence hearing.

The Sentence Hearing

In court, Zoe called her client to give sworn evidence of his remorse and personal circumstances. She then made closing submissions to the Court, focusing on why he should not be convicted of the offence. The solicitor appearing on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions strongly opposed Zoe’s submissions and instead argued our client should be convicted and placed on a good behaviour bond.

The Sentence

Ultimately, the Judge accepted Zoe’s submissions, and without recording a conviction placed our client on a good behaviour bond. This meant he avoided a criminal record.

Drug Supply Matters Generally

Only 11% of supply matters dealt with by the District Court receive a non-conviction, so our client was extremely pleased with this result.

The weight of the drug is crucial to how the matter will be dealt with, and the penalty that applies.

Schedule 1 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1995 contains a table that lists all prohibited drugs and groups them, based on weight, into the following categories:

  • Small Quantity
  • Traffickable Quantity
  • Indictable Quantity
  • Commercial Quantity
  • Large Commercial Quantity

If you are in possession of a small quantity of a prohibited drug, the matter will most likely be dealt with by a magistrate in the Local Court.

If you are charged with more than the traffickable quantity, the matter will still likely remain in the Local Court, but because of the quantity, police may charge you with “deemed supply”. In simple terms, this means that due to the quantity of the drug, unless you can prove otherwise, it is assumed you are in possession for the purposes of supply. Supplying a prohibited drug is considered much more serious than possession for personal use.

If you are charged with an indictable, commercial or large commercial quantity, your matter will most likely be dealt with by a judge in the District Court. In the District Court, the maximum penalty is no longer limited to 2 years imprisonment. Instead, the maximum penalties range between 10 years and life imprisonment.