- The maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment
- It is a “summary offence”. Your matter will start and finish before a magistrate in the Local Court
- Other than the penalties, a conviction may impact your ability to travel and obtain some employment
MUSIC FESTIVALS – SNIFFER DOGS
Many people charged with drug possession were detected by a police sniffer dog. If a police officer suspects “on reasonable grounds” that you have in your possession a prohibited plant or drug, they may stop, search, and detail you. Importantly:
- Police do not require a warrant to use drug sniffer dogs if the person searched is at a sporting event, concert, dance party or parade; or a public place where entertainment is being held.
- Warrants are also not required in bars, pubs and other premises being used for the consumption of alcohol sold at the premises.
SHOULD I HAVE REFUSED TO ANSWER POLICE QUESTIONS?
There is generally no requirement that you answer questions. You will not be punished more harshly for failing to answer questions. Making an admissions can later be used against you. For example, if you admitted that you knew the substance was a prohibited drug. However, if you have co-operated with police that may be in your favour during court proceedings. If in doubt, you should seek legal advice.
THE DRUGS WERE WEIGHED IN THE BAG – IS THIS A PROBLEM?
Police may weigh the drugs in the bags they were seized in. They then refer to the total weight, including packaging, in the charge and Police Facts sheet. You should be sentenced for the weight of the prohibited drug only, not the packaging. The drugs can be analysed and weighed after you have been charged and the actual weight determined. However, this does not automatically happen and an analysis is usually only conducted if you plead not-guilty, or the police agree to obtain one. Your lawyer can advise you in more detail in this regard.
IS THERE A CHANCE I WILL BE CHARGED WITH SUPPLY?
Supplying a prohibited drug is a much more serious charge than possession, carrying maximum penalties of between 15 years and life imprisonment.
Generally, a person will be charged with possession when the quantity of the drug is below the “traffickable quantity” and where there is no evidence of supply (for example large amounts of money, satchel bags etc.). If the amount you were caught in possession of was over the traffickable quanitity, or you had incriminating text messages or satchel bags in your possession, you may be charged with supply at a later stage.
The traffickable quantity for each drug differs, but as an example, methylamphetamine has a traffickable quantity of 3 grams and ecstasy 0.75grams. When the quantity of drugs found in an individual’s possession is above the traffickable quantity, the prosecution can rely on the weight to prove the drugs were for supply. This is called deemed supply. Click here for more information on supply: SUPPLY.
SHOULD I COMPLETE THE WRITTEN NOTICE OF PLEADING AND NOT ATTEND COURT?
The police will sometimes give you with a yellow “Written Notice of Pleading” form. In certain circumstances, you can indicate on this form that you wish to plead guilty and then send the form to the court.
We do not recommend this. It is always advisable to attend court in person, preferably represented by a lawyer. Remember, this offence carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment. By attending court, you are showing the magistrate that you take the matter seriously and accept responsibility.
WILL I HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD? CAN I GO TO JAIL?
Upon conviction, you are liable to imprisonment for up to 2 years. However, the maximum penalty is for the most serious offender and usually reserved for someone who also has a past criminal history. Click here for more information on sentencing options: SENTENCING OPTIONS.
Even if you plead guilty, court can still decide not to record a conviction under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. Click here for more information on section 10: SECTION 10.
Streeton Lawyers are drug offence experts, having represented hundreds of people charged with possession and supply. For advice about your matter, including the likelihood of a criminal conviction, contact one of our lawyers for a FREE initial consultation.