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What are drug offences?

In NSW there are several legally prohibited drugs and there are a variety of offences which relate to these prohibited drugs. Prohibited drug offences typically relate to:

  • the possession of prohibited drugs,
  • the cultivation of prohibited plants,
  • the manufacture of prohibited drugs, and
  • the supply of prohibited drugs.

Brander Smith McKnight’s team of criminal defence lawyers have handled drug offences at all levels of seriousness.

Our criminal defence lawyers have extensive experience in the area of drug offences and have represented clients in hundreds of drug offence matters and have achieved excellent results.

What are the penalties associated with drug offences?

There is a wide variety of penalties associated with drug offences that include terms of imprisonment and monetary fines. The seriousness of the potential penalty for an offence will depend on the context of the offence and factors such as the type of drug in question and the quantity of the prohibited drug.

For example, minor offences such as possession may be dealt with in the local and carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine. On the other hand, more serious offences such as drug supply, the manufacturing of a prohibited drug and the cultivation of a prohibited plant carry with them penalties as high as life imprisonment and/or enormous fines.

Brander Smith McKnight’s criminal defence lawyers are experts when it comes to penalties associated with drug offences.

The Seriousness of a Drug Offence

The objective seriousness of a drug offence can be impacted by several factors. The following are factors that will contribute to the Court’s assessment of the seriousness of an offence:

a) The purity of a drug

Where a drug’s purity is low it may impact a judge’s consideration of an offence’s seriousness. If a drug’s level of purity is unusually high, it could potentially present an aggravating factor in the sentencing of an offender.

b) The quantity of the drug

NSW penalises drug offences on a basis of quantity where the larger the amount of drugs in the circumstances of the offence, the more serious the offence. There are five weight categories associated with prohibited drug offences, they are:

  • Small quantity
  • Traffickable quantity
  • Indictable quantity
  • Commercial quantity
  • Large commercial quantity

c) The offender’s role and level of participation

The degree to which an offender participates in a drug offence and the nature of their role in that offence will influence the Court’s determination of the seriousness of a drug offence.

The Court will assess the offender’s role and their level of participation in an offence through explicit consideration of what the involvement of the offender was in the offence. For example, the leader of a supply network of prohibited drugs involvement in a drug offence is likely to attach a great degree of seriousness to that offence.

Why BSM Lawyers?

Being charged with a drug offence is very serious, not only can these offences expose you to lengthy prison terms and substantial fines, they also can have a disastrous effect on your future employment. In addition, there are some countries that you may not be able to travel to if you have been found guilty of a drug offence. This is why it is important that you seek expert legal advice if you find yourself charged with a drug offence.

Brander Smith McKnight’s criminal defence lawyers are here to provide you with the expert legal assistance necessary to defend yourself against a drug offence charge. We are highly experienced in this area and have assisted hundreds of clients in relation to drug offences.

If you would like to consult one of our criminal lawyers we offer a free 20 minute consultation, to contact us please call 02 8539 7475.


chevronCan I still be found guilty of drug possession if I was holding the drugs for a friend?

Yes, in NSW it is an offence to have a prohibited drug in your possession. Holding onto prohibited drugs for a friend does not exclude you from this offence.

chevronCan I still be found guilty of a drug possession offence if I did not know the drugs were in my possession?

To be found guilty of drug possession, the court must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that an offender knew or was likely to have known that a prohibited drug was in their possession.

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