Drug Supply is an offence under Section 25 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985. The maximum penalty depends on the type of prohibited drug involved and the weight of that drug.
To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you supplied, or took part in the supply of, a substance
- That substance was a prohibited drug, and
- You knew, or believed at the time, that the substance was a prohibited drug
You must be acquitted if the prosecution is unable to prove each of these ‘elements’.
Supply includes selling, giving away for free and participating in any stage of the supply process.
Some of the most common prohibited drugs are:
- MDMA (or ‘ecstasy’)
- Cocaine, and
The relevant weight is the ‘admixture’ which means the total weight of the substance, not just the weight of the prohibited drug within it.
A defence to the charge is that you temporarily had possession of the drug with the intention of returning it to the owner.
If you would like an experienced drug defence lawyer to provide accurate advice and outstanding representation for your Drug Supply case, call Sydney Criminal Lawyers® today on (02) 9261 8881 for a free first appointment.
Our criminal lawyers are experts in defending drug charges and have a proven track record in obtaining superior results in all types of drug cases.
25 Supply of prohibited drugs
(1) A person who supplies, or who knowingly takes part in the supply of, a prohibited drug is guilty of an offence.
(1A) A person of or above the age of 18 years who supplies, or who knowingly takes part in the supply of, a prohibited drug (other than cannabis leaf) to a person under the age of 16 years is guilty of an offence.
(2) A person who supplies, or who knowingly takes part in the supply of, an amount of a prohibited drug which is not less than the commercial quantity applicable to the prohibited drug is guilty of an offence.
(2A) A person of or above the age of 18 years who supplies, or who knowingly takes part in the supply of, an amount of a prohibited drug (other than cannabis leaf) which is not less than the commercial quantity applicable to the prohibited drug to a person under the age of 16 years is guilty of an offence.
(2B) Where, on the trial of a person for an offence under subsection (1A) or (2A), the jury are satisfied that the person charged had, at the time the offence is alleged to have been committed, reasonable cause to believe, and did in fact believe, that the person to whom the prohibited drug was supplied was of or above the age of 16 years, they may acquit the person of the offence charged and find the person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) or (2), respectively, and the person is liable to punishment accordingly.
(2C) A person of or above the age of 18 years who procures a person under the age of 16 years to supply, or take part in the supply of, a prohibited drug (other than cannabis leaf) to another person is guilty of an offence.
(2D) A person of or above the age of 18 years who procures a person under the age of 16 years to supply, or take part in the supply of, an amount of a prohibited drug (other than cannabis leaf) which is not less than the commercial quantity applicable to the prohibited drug is guilty of an offence.
(2E) It is a defence to a prosecution for an offence under subsection (2C) or (2D) if the defendant establishes that the defendant had, at the time the offence is alleged to have been committed, reasonable cause to believe, and did in fact believe, that the person who was procured to supply, or take part in the supply of, the prohibited drug was of or above the age of 16 years.
(3) Where, on the trial of a person for an offence under subsection (2) or (2D), the jury are not satisfied that the amount of prohibited drug involved is equal to or more than the commercial quantity applicable to the prohibited drug, they may acquit the person of the offence charged and find the person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) or (2C), respectively, and the person shall be liable to punishment accordingly.
(4) Nothing in this section renders unlawful the supply of a prohibited drug by:
(a) a person licensed or authorised to do so under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966, or
(b) a person acting in accordance with an authority granted by the Secretary of the Department of Health where the Secretary is satisfied that the supply of the prohibited drug is for the purpose of scientific research, instruction, analysis or study, or
(c) a person acting in accordance with a direction given by the Commissioner of Police under section 39RA,
or renders unlawful the taking part by any other person in the supply of a prohibited drug by a person to whom paragraph (a), (b) or (c) applies.
(5) Nothing in this section renders unlawful the administration of a prohibited drug to a person being cared for by another person in the circumstances described in section 10 (2) (d).
Penalties for Drug Supply
The maximum penalties for ‘drug supply’ depend on:
1. Drug type,
2. Drug quantity, and
3. Whether the case is dealt with in the Local or District court.
Here are the maximum penalties for the most commonly prosecuted types of drugs:
Client Granted Bail for Commercial Drug Supply, While All Co-accused Refused
Our client is a 24-year old overseas student.
Police alleged that he and 7 others were involved in Supplying a Commercial Quantity of a Prohibited Drug and Participating in a Joint Criminal Enterprise.
The suspects were alleged to have communicated through coded messages on their mobile telephones.
All were charged and brought before Manly Local Court.
For the purposes of bail, the offences are ‘show cause’ offences, which means the defence bears the onus of establishing the defendant does not pose an ‘unacceptable risk’ to the community, and that imprisonment would therefore be unjustified.
The prosecution strenuously opposed bail for all 7 defendants on the basis of the alleged strength of the prosecution case and likelihood of a full-time custodial sentence in the event of a conviction.
Each of the defendants had similar evidence against them and were alleged to be at similar levels in the hierarchy of the enterprise.
However, our client (and two others) were at a significant disadvantage because they were from overseas and had limited links to the local community – which makes it more difficult to achieve bail.
Our defence team got to work and quickly prepared material addressing a number of the bail concerns, including the risk of flight. We took detailed instructions with a view to disputing the prosecution’s submissions regarding the strength of the prosecution case.
By the time we were ready to run our client’s bail application, all 7 co-accused had been refused bail.
We presented material and made detailed verbal submissions regarding the law.
The submissions included reference to the pivotal NSW Supreme Court cases of R v Melmeth  and the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal case of DPP v Mawad , which made a number of findings in respect of the meaning of ‘show cause’, including the applicable test.
Among other things, the cases establish that ‘exceptional circumstances’ do not necessarily need to be shown to overcome the ‘show cause’ hurdle – which is a common but incorrect assumption amongst practitioners. Rather, a combination of factors including proposed bail conditions can meet the test, and alleviate any bail concerns.
The presiding magistrate was convinced and saw fit to grant bail on strict conditions, including daily reporting, surrender or passport and non-association with co-accused and witnesses in the case.
The outcome demonstrates that with the right knowledge, meticulous preparation and persuasive presentation, bail can be achieved in ‘show cause’ cases regardless of the seriousness of the allegations and the findings against co-accused.
The merits of each case must be assessed independently, and it is important to engage specialist criminal defence lawyers who are knowledgeable, thorough and persuasive.
Not Guilty of Drug Supply and Proceeds of Crime
Our client is a 30 year old Truck Driver from the South Coast of NSW.
Police observed a car that was double parked in the middle of street in the Sydney CBD, which they claimed is ‘well known for drug use and supply’
They conducted a vehicle enquiry through their Mobipol system to obtain the registration particulars of the car.
The enquiry suggested the vehicle was registered to a family member of an organised crime group, and that the member was previously convicted of drug supply.
Police approached the vehicle and saw four individuals inside. The owner and his associate were in the front seats, and our client and a television presenter in the back.
Police questioned each of the occupants, and our client disclosed that he was in possession of a quantity of cocaine. They searched our client and located a large resealable bag of cocaine down the front of his pants, two small bags of cocaine in his wallet, nearly $5,000 in cash and two mobile telephones.
They arrested and conveyed our client to the police station, where he participated in an interview and made certain admissions.
One of the phones in our client’s possession contained messages indicative of drug supply. Our client told police that this phone did not belong to him, but to one of the other occupants.
Our client was charged with drug supply due to the quantity of drugs in the large resealable bag and contents of the phone messages, and with proceeds of crime for the cash found on him.
Our defence team undertook a considerable amount of work establishing there was insufficient evidence to prove ownership of the phone and gathering evidence regarding duress.
Duress is when a person commits an offence because threats are made against them to such an extent that a reasonable person in their position would comply.
The case ultimately proceeded to a jury trial in Downing Centre District Court.
Once evidence of duress was raised, the prosecution made submissions that a serious threat of violence could not be established as our client was aware of the presence of police nearby. It was further submitted that the text messages suggesting supply were from our client, as other evidence suggested he was indeed the sender of those transmissions.
Our cross examination of the prosecution witnesses, including expert witnesses, supported by documents gathered by the defence completely defeated the prosecution’s ability to negative the defence of duress. It was a systematic and complete dismantling of the prosecution case which meant we did not need to put our client on the witness stand to testify and face cross examination.
In the result, the jury returned verdicts of not guilty for both charges, and the alleged proceeds of crime was refunded to our client.
No Criminal Record for 18 ‘Ecstacy’ Tablets
Our client is a 27 year old man who is on a student visa.
Police were conducting a drug dog operation within the Kings Cross Entertainment precinct.
They were walking along the footpath when they observed our client see them and immediately cross the road.
Police followed our client and say they observed him cross back, in what they viewed to be an active attempt to avoid the sniffer dog.
They approached our client and activated their Body Worn Video camera. They asked if our client would consent to a search, and he did.
During the search, police located 2 resealable plastic bags containing a total of 18 capsules of MDMA (‘ecstacy’).
They arrested our client and conveyed him to the police station, where our client participated in an interview and admitted owning the tablets.
The law in NSW is that where the weight of a substance containing MDMA is above 0.75 grams, police are able to charge the person with ‘drug supply’ as it is deemed the drugs were in the person’s possession for the purpose of supply.
In that case, police do not need to prove that the person intended to supply the drug; rather the onus of proof shifts to the defendant to prove on the balance of probabilities that he or she possessed the drugs for something other than supply, most commonly for personal use only.
The weight of the drugs in our client’s possession was 4.27 grams, well in excess of the ‘deemed’ quantity.
He was subsequently charged with supplying a prohibited drug.
As the weight was more than 1.25 grams, the supply charge became ‘strictly indictable’ which means it must be finalised in the District Court rather than the Local Court.
This also meant the matter was taken over by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
We wrote detailed ‘representations’ to the DPP regarding the fact the drugs were in our client’s possession for personal use only, requesting the downgrading of the supply charge to drug possession – which is far less serious and would allow the case to remain in the Local Court.
After intense negotiations, the DPP ultimately agreed to our request.
Our client then pleaded guilty to drug possession-only in the Local Court.
In preparation for our client’s sentencing proceedings, we assisted him to prepare a Letter of Apology, Character References and also guided him to attend the SMART Recovery Program.
As he is an Italian national, we obtained his Italian criminal record (which was clean) and had it translated.
We made detailed submissions in regarding his remorse, steps to taking control of his substance use and the impact of a conviction on his desire to work in the future as a professional.
We also compiled relevant case-law which makes it clear a magistrate can impose a ‘non-conviction’ despite the number of pills.
The Crown opposed our request and made submissions for a criminal conviction and significant penalty.
We ultimately persuaded the Magistrate not to impose a criminal record on our client, and released him on a two-year good behaviour bond without conviction.
Our client was ecstatic and looks forward to pursuing his career.
No Criminal Record for 14 Ecstacy Tablets
Our client is a foreign national on a working holiday visa.
A few months into her stay in Australia, she decided to attend a music festival with a group of friends.
On the day of the festival, she was pressured to carry 14 MDMA (‘ecstacy’) tablets into the festival grounds.
The male members of the group, including her boyfriend at the time, felt that as a female she would come under the least suspicion from security and police, who were checking for illegal drugs at the festival entry.
A sniffer dog gave a positive indication and our client quickly admitted to possessing the tablets.
She was then arrested and charged with ‘drug supply’ due to the number of tablets found. In that regard, the law provides that a person found with more than the ‘trafficable quantity’ of drugs can be charged with supply. This is known as ‘deemed supply’. The trafficable quantity of MDMA is just 0.75 grams.
If a person is charged with deemed supply, the onus of proof then shifts to them to prove ‘on the balance of probabilities’ that they were in possession of the drugs for the purpose of something other than supply.
The law also provides that a person who holds drugs momentarily for the owner with a view to returning it is not guilty of supply.
An issue for our client was that there were a number of people to whom the drugs were to be distributed upon entry to the festival, and she made admissions to police that she intended to supply the tablets to these people.
Despite the issues, our defence team wrote a detailed letter – known as ‘representations’ formally requesting withdrawal of the supply charge provided that our client pleaded guilty to drug possession.
She pleaded guilty to that lesser charge and we assisted her in gathering a range of subjective materials, including documents in relation to the impact of a criminal conviction.
After extensive verbal submissions in the local court, and despite submissions against a ‘non conviction’ by the prosecution, Her Honour was persuaded to impose a two-year good behaviour bond without a criminal conviction.
This is an excellent result given the number of tablets involved.
No Criminal Record for ‘Deemed Supply’ of 15 Ecstacy Tablets
Our client is a 24 year old student who was found to be in possession of 15 ecstasy tablets.
During the police interview, he admitted intending to supply the tablets to his friends once they were all together inside the hotel they were intending to meet.
Police charged our client with ‘deemed supply,’ alleging that he was in possession for the purpose of supply, as the current definition of supply extends to an intention to supply. The offence carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $220,000.
Despite our client’s admissions, we successfully persuaded police to withdraw the supply charge on condition he pleads guilty to the lesser charge of drug possession; which carries a maximum penalty of two years.
Our client entered a plea of guilty to that charge and we assisted him to prepare a range of subjective materials, including a letter of apology, character references and a letter from a psychologist.
Due to the number of tablets, the Local Court magistrate imposed an 18 month good behaviour bond on our client under ‘section 9’ of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act – which comes with a criminal record.
We appealed the severity of the penalty to the District Court, where we ultimately persuaded the judge to deal with our client ‘without conviction’. He is now free to pursue his future career in accounting without the obstacle of a criminal record.
Bail Granted for Large Commercial Drug Supply
Our 23 year old client has been granted conditional bail in Central Local Court after being charged with 'supplying a large commercial quantity of prohibited drug' and 'knowingly participate in criminal group'.
Police conducted a controlled operation into the alleged production and supply of methylamphetamine originating out of a clandestine laboratory in Ryde, NSW.
Police used surveillance devices and physical monitoring to track the movement of substances from that location to other parts of Sydney.
Our client was arrested together with four other young men who were allegedly in possession of 2.4 kilograms of methylamphetamine.
It is additionally alleged that our client is captured on surveillance footage handling the packages within which the drugs were found.
All five defendants then came before the Presiding Magistrate in Central Local Court.
They all faced an uphill battle when it came to bail because 'large commercial drug supply' is one of the offences captured by the new "show cause" provisions of the Bail Act - which means that it is very difficult to obtain bail in such cases.
However, our senior lawyers made extensive verbal submissions which ultimately convinced the Magistrate to grant bail to our client.
All of the other four other defendants were refused bail.
It is just another example of how superior legal representation can make all the difference when it comes to your liberty.
Client Avoids Prison Despite Breaching Suspended Sentence
In May 2013, our client pleaded guilty to Supplying a Commercial Quantity of Prohibited Drug and 3 counts of Possess Prohibited Drug.
He was given a two-year 'Suspended Sentence' and 3 x three-year 'Section 9 Good Behaviour Bonds' for those charges by the Presiding Judge in Downing Centre District Court. This was an excellent result given the seriousness of the charges.
However, in November 2014, he was found in possession of MDMA ('ecstacy') tablets and a quantity of cannabis, and charged with two counts of drug possession. Those charges caused him to breach his 'Suspended Sentence' and his 'Good Behaviour Bonds'.
In the lead-up to his court proceedings, our legal team gathered material supporting the assertion that our client had taken significant steps towards rehabilitation, but had found it difficult at times and relapsed.
In the result, the Presiding Judge was persuaded that there were good reasons to excuse the breach of Suspended Sentence. The breach was therefore excused and our client was given a fresh two-year section 9 good behaviour bond.
He therefore avoids prison and can continue in his efforts towards rehabilitation.
Drug Charges Thrown Out of Court
Our 26 year old client was charged with supplying 2.4 grams of cocaine, and a 'backup' charge of drug possession, after police located drugs and drug paraphernalia including electronic scales and resealable bags in a kitchen cupboard at his one-bedroom unit in Paddington.
Our client was the sole lessee of the unit, although his girlfriend also lived there and friends also attended for social gatherings.
The prosecution case failed because they could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that our client 'exclusively possessed' the drugs, to the exclusion of all others.
In drug cases, police must prove 'exclusive possession'- in other words, police must exclude any reasonable possibility that the drugs belonged to someone else.
In this case, our lawyers ensured that ample evidence came before the court that the drugs could have belonged to our client's partner or any one of a number of people who recently attended the unit.
The Magistrate in Downing Centre Local Court therefore found our client 'not guilty' and dismissed both of the charges.
Client Avoids Criminal Conviction after Drug Supply Charges Reduced to Drug Possession
Our 21 year old client was charged with drug supply after police observed him smoking crystal methylamphetamine ('ice') through a glass pipe in the driver seat of his car.
Police searched the car and located more 'ice' in a small resealable bag, 6 tablets of MDMA ('ecstacy'), drug paraphernalia and a quantity of cash.
They charged him with drug supply due to the quantity of drugs found - this charge is also known as 'deemed drug supply'.
Once again, our defence team wrote a detailed letter to police requesting withdrawal of the drug supply charges on the basis that our client pleads guilty to the less-serious charge of 'drug possession'.
The request was successful and our client then pleaded guilty to drug possession.
Our client was represented in court by our senior lawyers who persuaded the Magistrate in Downing Centre Local Court to award our client a 'section 10' which means that he avoids a criminal conviction altogether.
Client Avoids Conviction Despite Supplying 16 Ecstacy Tablets
In Downing Centre District Court, our 24 year old client from Rydalmere was given a 'section 10 bond' despite pleading guilty to supplying 16 ecstacy tablets and possessing amphetamines.
This means that she avoids a criminal conviction altogether.
She is a Project Analyst with a Sydney-based telecommunications company that contracts to various government organisations.
She attended the Stereosonic Music Festival, Olympic Park where police allegedly saw her selling tablets to other party-goers.
Police approached and saw her holding a condom containing what appeared to be tablets and capsules.
They immediately cautioned her, seized the pills and placed her under arrest.
She then made a range of admissions and was charged with one count of 'drug supply' and two counts of 'drug possession'.
The ecstacy (or 'MDMA') tablets weighed a total of 5.44 grams. A capsule of amphetamines was also found.
The quantity of drugs made it a 'strictly indictable case' which means that it had to go to the District Court.
It was a strong case of 'actual supply'.
However, Sydney Criminal Lawyers® persuaded the prosecution to significantly amend the 'facts' and to treat the matter as a 'deemed supply' only, which meant that it was less-serious.
Our client then pleaded guilty to one charge of 'deemed supply'.
She placed herself in the best possible position before her sentencing date by attending counselling and gathering character references.
A counselling letter was obtained and our defence team successfully persuaded the District Court Judge to keep her conviction-free.
This means that the incident is unlikely to affect our client's current job or her future career prospects.
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