Being charged with a drug premises offence can be an unfortunate blow to your life and career. But with the expertise and insight of our specialist defence team, you can rest assured that Sydney’s most experienced drug lawyers will fight hard from start to finish to ensure that you get the best possible outcome.
Your Options in Court
Pleading Not Guilty
To be found guilty of a drug premises charge, the prosecution must prove that you either:
- Owned land or buildings that you knew were being used to manufacture, grow or supply illegal drugs (known as drug premises) OR
- Assisted with the organisation or operation of drug premises (e.g. acting as a guard or lookout on the property) OR
- Entered drug premises without a lawful excuse
If you feel that the prosecution will be unable to prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you may want to consider pleading ‘not guilty.’ By pleading not guilty, you will be able to defend your matter in court, for example:
- You may argue that there is insufficient evidence to indicate that the buildings or land are ‘drug premises’
- You may present evidence to show that you were unaware that the buildings or land were being used to manufacture, grow or supply drugs (honest and reasonable mistake)
- You may present evidence to show that you had a lawful purpose for being on the property – for example, where you were visiting friends or family at that address.
If you wish to accept the charges against you, you may wish to plead guilty from the outset. Often, this can result in a more favourable outcome as it will show to the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions. By doing this, the court may be persuaded to give you a more lenient penalty.
If you are considering pleading guilty to drug premises, you should be aware of the maximum penalties that may apply. The maximum penalties depend on various factors, such as whether you have previous drug premises offences, and whether children were exposed to the drug premises:
- The maximum penalty for a drug premises offence is 12 months imprisonment and/or a $5,500 fine.
- If it is your second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment and/or a $55,000 fine
- Where a child was exposed to drugs, drug paraphernalia or the drug supply process, the maximum penalty is 14 months imprisonment and/or a $6,600 fine. If it is your second or subsequent offence the maximum penalty is 6 years imprisonment and/or a $66,000 fine.
It’s important to remember that these are maximum penalties only, and they will only apply in the most serious cases. The magistrate or judge will determine the appropriate penalty in your case after considering all the facts and circumstances.
The types of penalties that the court may impose include:
- Section 10 Dismissal
- Conditional Release Order
- Community Correction Order
- Intensive Correction Order
You can increase your chances of getting a more favourable penalty by getting a specialist drug lawyer, with in-depth knowledge of this complex area of the law. At Sydney Drug Lawyers, our specialist drug lawyers fight hard for each and every client to ensure that they get the best possible outcome.
When you’re facing charges in relation to drug premises, it’s only natural to want to equip yourself with information to help you understand how the charges can affect you.
We have compiled some detailed information below to help you better understand your drug premises charge.
What are drug premises?
‘Drug premises’ refers to any land or buildings that are used to manufacture, grow or supply illegal drugs.
In establishing whether a building or land should be classified as ‘drug premises,’ the court can look at various factors, for example:
- Whether police were obstructed when trying to get into the premises
- Whether there were large amounts of money kept on the premises
- Whether there was any drug paraphernalia on the property, such as syringes or equipment used to make drugs
- Whether there was anyone acting as a lookout or guard at the premises
- Whether there were any firearms or dangerous weapons at the premises
What does the prosecution need to prove?
There are three forms of conduct under the law which can amount to a ‘drug premises’ charge. The prosecution only needs to prove one of them:
- That you owned land or buildings that you knew were being used to manufacture, grow or supply illegal drugs (known as drug premises)
If you are the owner of land or premises deemed to be ‘drug premises,’ you may be charged for allowing your property to be used to manufacture, grow or supply illegal drugs.
In this case, the prosecution must prove that you knew or should have known that your property was being used as drug premises, and that you still allowed it to be used as drug premises.
This means that you will not be found guilty where you were the owner of a property being used as drug premises and took action to prevent it being used as drug premises once you were aware of this.
- That you assisted with the organisation or operation of drug premises (e.g. acting as a guard or lookout on the property)
In this case, the prosecution will need to prove that you assisted in operating or organising the drug premises. Examples of conduct that could amount to this may include:
- Acting as a guard or lookout on the property
- Assisting in the manufacture of drugs on the property
- Assisting in the growing and maintenance of illegal plants on the property
However, you will not be found guilty if you can prove that you were unaware that the premises were being used as ‘drug premises.’
- That you entered drug premises without a lawful excuse
If you are caught upon drug premises without a lawful excuse, the prosecution can charge you with entering drug premises.
You can defend a charge of entering drug premises by presenting evidence to show that you had a lawful purpose for being on the property – for example, visiting family or friends or delivering an item (other than an illegal item).
Alternatively, you may present evidence to show that you did not know, and should not have reasonably been expected to know, that the premises were being used as drug premises.
What penalties could I face?
The maximum penalty for a drug premises charge is 12 months imprisonment and/or a $5,500 fine. You could face harsher penalties where it is your second or subsequent offence, or where a child has been exposed to drugs, the drug manufacturing process, or drug paraphernalia at the premises.
However, these are maximum penalties only, which means that they will only apply in the most serious cases.
Ultimately, the judge or magistrate will determine the appropriate penalty after considering all the facts and circumstances of your case – including your level of involvement and whether you have a previous record for drug premises charges.
Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with.
Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:
- Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results
Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases. Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial. Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.
We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.
We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.
Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.
- Highest Level of Client Satisfaction
We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia. Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities. We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.
We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.
- Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law Firm
We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running. The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.
- Fixed Fees
We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004. We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.
Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.
Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.
- Free First Appointment
For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers. We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.
- Specialist Lawyer Guarantee
We guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court. This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.
- All NSW Courts
From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases. And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.
- Accredited Specialists
Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists. All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005. An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field. Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.
Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.
- Results-Focused Law Firm
Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet. The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’. Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.
No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.
The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.
- Team of Lawyers Behind You
Our clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide. Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes. A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.
In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.
- Familiar with Magistrates and Judges
Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state. Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.
We have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:
- the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
- Liverpool, directly opposite Liverpool Local Court, and
- Parramatta, near the justice precinct.
We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD and Liverpool locations, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.
For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.
If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at email@example.com.