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In Victoria, a large number of drugs and plants, including artificially manufactured drugs (such as ecstasy, ice, and amphetamines), and naturally cultivated substances (such as heroin, cocaine, and cannabis), are against the law.
Drug offences constitute a large percentage of prosecuted matters in the Magistrates’, County, and Supreme Courts in Victoria. Drug offences range from small quantity possession charges to large commercial quantity trafficking charges. Pursuant to Schedule 11 of the Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Act, prosecuted drugs all carry different amounts in terms of what is determined to be small quantity, traffickable quantity, or large quantity. The Schedule can be found by clicking here.
The amount of drugs involved in a particular offence will determine which Court your matter will be heard in.
With our extensive experience in criminal law, we regularly represent clients that have been charged with the following offences:
The most common drug offences are possession and use of a drug of dependence. Possession means physically having the drug on the person, or in their place of residence or motor vehicle. The case becomes far more serious if the accused is caught with a traffickable quantity, or the circumstance in which the accused is caught leads the police to conclude that the person is trafficking. This is most commonly observed in matters involving the accused being caught with bags, scales, cash, or text messages proving transactions have taken place.
Drug possession can be punishable by imprisonment. In cases involving large quantities of drugs in relation to a trafficking operation, a Court may impose a life imprisonment sentence.
For first time offenders, police have the discretion to issue a caution, meaning that no charges will be laid on the condition that the person attends a session of drug-related counselling. If this occurs in your circumstances, then a first-time offender will usually avoid a criminal record.
Additionally, first-time drug offenders who have their cases heard in the Magistrates’ Court ordinarily do not go to jail due to:
In contrast, the penalty for trafficking drugs can vary significantly, which depends on the seriousness of the offence. The maximum penalty in some cases may involve life imprisonment, and in most cases, the accused will receive a criminal record.
It is important to note that the quantity of drugs the accused is caught with in the offence is not always the determinative factor in assessing the seriousness of a trafficking offence. In complex matters or offences involving large quantities, sentences of imprisonment can still be significant, even if little or no drugs are seized by the police. This is due to police laying additional or alternative charges if they were to seize large sums of cash or high value assets, as the police will allege that the cash and/or assets seized were proceeds of crime.
An experienced Criminal Lawyer will assist in strongly defending the accused. This may result in either the prosecution withdrawing the charge, or the Court reducing the severity of a sentence.
Whatever the charge, a finding of guilt in relation to drug charges is highly undesirable. It is important that you speak to an experienced Criminal Lawyer prior to making any formal record of interview.
It is crucial to note that often accused individuals are not properly advised of the full impact and risks of a charge, and importantly the consequences associated with pleading guilty to a charge, including that in series offences such as commercial quantity trafficking, or cultivation charge, their assets may be able to be confiscated. An experienced Criminal Lawyer can assist in advising an accused individual of these impacts, risks, and consequences.
Our Criminal Defence Lawyers are experienced in dealing with cases involving drugs, from possession of a small amount to trafficking or importing commercial and large commercial quantities.
If you have been charged with any of the above offences, it is important to discuss your matter as early as possible with one of our Criminal Defence Lawyers at the first instance. Contact the team at Executive Lawyers today on (03) 8376 6209.
We suggest that you engaged legal representation to assist you and guide you through the process, and that such representation be sought prior to any interview with the Police. You may also wish to consider exercising your right to silence in any such interview.
The seriousness of drug related charges depends on a number of matters including
All of these issues need to be thoroughly considered to achieve the most appropriate result in your circumstances.
It is also important to be aware of the seriousness of the charges laid against you and the potential sentence attributed to that offence. Generally, the type of charge determines the seriousness of the potential sentence. For example, some drug offences relating to commercial and large commercial quantities of drugs carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.