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.