Drug offences can come with serious penalties, including long-term prison sentences.
If you have been charged with a drug offence, the maximum penalty you are likely to face will vary depending on whether you have been charged with possession or supply.
Being charged with supplying drugs generally means much more severe penalties than if you are found guilty of possessing an illegal drug for your own personal use.
What is the difference between supply and possession?
Possession of an illegal substance is generally applied when the quantities of the drug found are enough for personal consumption only, and there is no other evidence of drug dealing or manufacturing.
The charge of drug supply is usually used when drugs are found in larger quantities.
The charge of deemed drug supply can be brought simply on the basis that you possess more than the trafficable quantity of supply.
The trafficable quantity of cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and ‘speed’ is 3 grams.
The trafficable quantity of MDMA or ‘ecstacy’ is 0.75 grams.
If a charge of deemed supply is brought, it will be up to you to establish that the drugs were possessed for something other than supply.
The charge of actual drug supply is normally brought when there is evidence that you are actually supplying drugs to someone.
Drug possession charges come with a number of penalties, but they are significantly less severe than drug supply penalties.
Drug possession is a summary offence which means that it stays in the local court.
The maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment and the maximum fine is $5,500.
The maximum penalty for large commercial supply of drugs is life imprisonment and a fine of $550,000.
What does actual drug supply include?
The definition of actual drug supply can include a number of different activities such as distributing, selling, keeping, forwarding and receiving drugs, as well as permitting someone else to do those acts on your premises or attempt to do them.
Drug supply can include supplying drugs to friends without payment, sending drugs in the post, and being part of a group of people buying drugs with combined funds, selling them and splitting the proceeds.
Even if a drug that you supply doesn’t contain an illicit substance, if you have represented it as an illegal drug you can still be charged and convicted of drug supply.
Drug supply doesn’t include holding drugs for someone else or giving them to someone to hold, or asking someone to buy a drug from you so that they can supply it back to you in the future.
For a conviction of actual drug supply to be successful, there are a number of different factors that must be in place.
The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Gave or provided a substance to another person.
- That the substance was a prohibited drug. Even if just a portion of the drug was an illicit substance, it is still classified as an illegal drug.
- That you did this knowingly or believed at the time that you were supplying an illegal drug.
The severity of the offence and the likely penalty for drug supply will depend on the quantities of drugs involved.
There are predetermined quantities that have different penalties, ranging from a maximum of two years’ imprisonment up to life imprisonment for large commercial quantities.
Charges for smaller quantities of supply can be heard in the local court, which has a less severe maximum penalty than the district court.
Larger quantities can only be dealt with in the district court, which means that the maximum penalty is harsher.
Drug supply charges come with severe penalties so it is important to seek experienced legal representation if you have been charged with drug supply.
A criminal lawyer with a proven track record of successfully defending drug supply charges can help you receive a less serious penalty, or possibly avoid a criminal conviction entirely.