Many of the most common criminal charges in Australia are related to drugs. The nature of the charge varies from case to case, as do the potential offences. Not all drug charges are the same and they’re influenced by factors such as the drug type, how much you’re in possession of, why the drugs are there, and potential mitigating factors. Understanding more about different drug charges can help bring some clarity to your case.
Using any drug that’s illegal results in you breaking the law. This includes everything from marijuana through to cocaine, as well as the incorrect use and acquisition of prescription drugs. If the police arrest you for Drug Use Charges, they need to prove that you used the drugs. In many cases, the police are able to make an arrest because the defendant has admitted to using an illegal substance.
Under Section 10 of the Drug Misuse and Possession Act, being in possession of an illegal drug means you’re guilty of a Drug Possession Charge. This rule applies to having drugs on your person as well as inside a car, and in some cases, your property. In the case of vehicles and properties, the police must prove that the drugs belong to you. Holding drugs for someone briefly is not an adequate defence.
Possessing a large enough volume of drugs could result in you being charged with Drug Supply and Trafficking. The volume must be higher than the threshold for personal use and the increments for charges are defined in the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act, Section 1. Those increments range from small quantities that aren’t being trafficked through to large commercial quantities.
Having the right defence in place may prevent prosecution or reduce the penalty you face.
Under Section 29 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act, 1985, if your drugs fall into the small quantities section, you cannot be charged with drug supply and trafficking. If the amount is larger, it’s sometimes possible to claim that you had the drug in your possession for a purpose other than personal use, but not supply. At Riviere Law, we can help you mount a strong defence, including the following examples.
The burden of proof for possession lies with the police. If they cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you possessed the drugs, you cannot be charged with possession. This is a defence we can try to apply to drugs that aren’t found on your person.
Although the defence of duress is rarely used, it is available. It can apply when you believe there was a serious threat to your life or your family’s lives if you failed to sell or possess the drugs. It’s necessary to prove that the threat was present and that it was sufficient enough for you to yield to the aggressor’s pressure.
If you’re facing drug charges, hiring a defence lawyer gives you a stronger chance of avoiding conviction.