Facing the possibility of a drug supply conviction can be a nerve wracking experience.
Drug supply is considered a more serious offence than possession, and comes with harsher penalties.
If you have been charged with supplying prohibited drugs, you will probably be concerned about whether you will receive a harsh penalty such as community service or even a prison sentence if you are convicted.
But you may not have thought about what can happen in the future if you end up with a criminal record.
Having a criminal conviction for a serious offence like drug supply can affect your ability to find work, and to travel to certain countries.
Do I have to declare any criminal convictions when I travel?
As an Australian citizen, you are required to apply for a visa so that you can travel to, or through, certain countries.
These countries include the US, Canada, China and Indonesia, among others.
When you apply for a visa, you will be required to disclose any criminal convictions you have received, along with any matters that you have outstanding.
If you have a criminal conviction, it does not necessarily mean that you will be refused entry to a country – whether your criminal conviction affects your ability to travel largely depends on the individual country and their policies, as well as the severity of the offence.
In Canada, for example, you can be refused entry over convictions for relatively minor offences, such as a drink driving, while other countries will restrict you only for more serious criminal convictions.
What if the conviction was a long time ago?
A drug supply conviction may exclude you altogether from entering certain countries on either a tourist or a work visa.
However, whether previous convictions are considered relevant depends largely on the country.
If you are seeking entry into Canada, you may be able to get an exemption for a previous conviction that is more than five years old by stating that you are ‘rehabilitated’, while the US is generally stricter.
Whether or not a non conviction order for a drug supply charge will show up on your criminal record depends on whether it was conditional or unconditional.
If you received a non conviction order with a good behaviour bond, it will appear on your criminal record for the duration of the bond.
Once the period of time for the good behaviour bond expires, the conviction will be considered ‘spent’.
This means it is better to try and get an unconditional non conviction order, with no conviction recorded, if possible.
How can I check whether or not I have a criminal record?
If you are unsure whether you have a clean criminal record or not, you can apply for a copy from the Australian Federal Police before you travel.
AFP police checks are also often mandatory if you are applying for a work visa for a foreign country.
If you are facing a drug supply conviction and you are concerned about the effect it might have on your future travel plans, it is a good idea to speak to a lawyer.
An experienced criminal lawyer may be able to help you avoid a conviction and reduce the impact of your drug charges on your future.