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Cocaine offences

This brief article discusses cocaine offences, including administration, possession, supply and importation.

Cocaine is considered a prohibited drug under Schedule 1 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW).  The quantity of cocaine determines which category of supply charge is laid and the associated penalties, s25 Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW)

Self Administration of Cocaine

It is an offence to use cocaine according to s12 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW), which states ‘a person who administers or attempts to administer a prohibited drug to him or herself is guilty of an offence’. To administer means the introduction of the prohibited drug into the body through any means. This cocaine offence is typically dealt with in Local Court and is a summary matter.  For a conviction to occur, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance is cocaine and that the person administered or attempted to administer cocaine to themselves.  The maximum penalty is a fine of 20 penalty units, where 1 penalty unit currently equals $110 and/or two years imprisonment. Penalty units are used instead of dollars as the units are indexed for inflation. The dollar amount of one penalty unit is in s17 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW).

Administration of Cocaine to Others

It is an offence to administer or attempt to administer cocaine to another person according to s13 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW). To administer means the introduction of the prohibited drug into a person’s body by any means.  This cocaine offence is typically dealt with in Local Court and is a summary matter. For a conviction to occur, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance is cocaine and that the person administered or attempted to administer cocaine to another person. The maximum penalty is a fine of 20 penalty units, which is currently $2,200.00 and/or two years imprisonment.

Possession of Cocaine

The possession of cocaine is dealt with under s10 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW) which states ‘a person who has a prohibited drug in his or her possession is guilty of an offence’.  For a conviction to occur the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the drug was in the possession of a person and that the person knew it was in their possession or knew of it’s likely existence and nature or believed that it was cocaine.  If the quantity is less than 3.0g the charge is usually dealt with in the Local Court and is a summary matter. The maximum penalty is a fine of 20 penalty units and/or two years imprisonment.  If found with a trafficable quantity, considered to be 3.0 to 5.0,g the charge can be deemed drug supply. If charged with deemed supply, the accused needs to establish on the ‘balance of probabilities’ that the cocaine was for personal use rather than for intent to supply.

The Quantity of Cocaine and Penalties for Supply

It is an offence to supply Cocaine, pursuant to s25 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW). The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person supplied cocaine to another person or persons. The offence depends on the quantity of cocaine supplied.

  1. Small Quantity, 0.0g-3.0g. The matter is conducted in the Local Court and is typically charged as possession, rather than supply. The max penalty is $2,200.00 and/or 2 years imprisonment.
  2. Traffickable Quantity, 3.0g-5.0g. In this case the charge can be deemed  supply (as noted above) or supply of a traffickable quantity of cocaine. The maximum penalty is $220,000 and/or 15 years imprisonment.
  3. Indictable Quantity, 5.0g-250.0g. The matter is generally heard in the District Court. The maximum penalty is $220,000 and/0r 15 years imprisonment for supply of an indictable quantity of cocaine.
  4. Commercial Quantity, 250.0g-1.0kg. The maximum penalty is $385,000 and/or 20 years imprisonment for supply of a commercial quantity of cocaine. The matter is strictly indictable and can not be finalised in the Local Court.
  5. Large Commercial Quantity, over 1.0kg. The maximum penalty is $550,000 and/or life imprisonment for supply of a large commercial quantity of cocaine.

Supply of Cocaine on an Ongoing Basis

This cocaine offence is dealt with in s25A of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW). It is a strictly indictable matter, generally heard in the District Court with a maximum penalty of a fine of 3,500 penalty units and/or 20 years imprisonment.  For a conviction to occur, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a prohibited drug was supplied on three or more occasions during any period of 30 consecutive days and the supply was for financial or material reward. The prohibited drug is not required to be the same drug on any of the occasions relied upon.

Importing and Exporting Cocaine

This offence is dealt with under Division 3o7 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). There are three different quantity ranges.

  1. Importing or exporting which has a maximum penalty of 2,000 penalty units and/or 10 years imprisonment, (s307.3).
  2. Importing or exporting a marketable quantity, which is considered to be 2.0g, which has a maximum penalty of 5,000 penalty units and/or 25 years imprisonment, (s307.2).
  3. Importing or exporting a commercial quantity, which is considered to be 250.00g, which has a maximum penalty of 7,500 penalty units and/or life imprisonment, (s307.1).

Why BSM Lawyers?

The criminal lawyers at Brander Smith McKnight have extensive experience in all drug matters, including cocaine.  We will strongly advocate for you and achieve the best possible results for you.  We will represent you in court and fight for your results.  Our lawyers regularly appear in Local and District Courts and consistently achieve excellent results.

Brander Smith McKnight Lawyers are conveniently located in Sutherland, Parramatta, Wollongong and Sydney CBD.

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