Being charged with possessing a border controlled drug can be an unnerving and unsettling experience.

But with the help of the specialist drug lawyers at Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, you can give yourself the best possible defence against the charges and avoid an unfavourable outcome.

‘Possessing a border controlled drug’ is often used as an alternative charge to ‘drug importation’ where the prosecution is unable to prove that you imported the drugs, or where you collected the drugs some time after they were imported.

Your Options in Court

Pleading Not Guilty

To be found guilty of possessing a border controlled drug, the prosecution must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That a border controlled drug or plant was illegally imported
  • That you possessed, or intended to possess the drug or plant
  • That you knew that the substance was a border controlled drug or plant, or you were reckless as to this possibility

It is not necessary to prove that you actually possessed the drug – it will be enough for the prosecution to show that you intended to possess the substance – for example, where you try but are unable to pick up the drugs, or where the substance you collect is a fake substance that has been planted there by the police.

If you are charged with ‘possessing a marketable quantity of a border controlled drug’ or ‘possessing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug,’ the prosecution also needs to prove that you possessed a certain quantity of the drug:

Relevant Section

If you are charged with…

The prosecution must prove you had this quantity…

307.5 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code

Possessing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug

  • 500g ecstasy/MDMA
  • 750g amphetamines
  • 1.5kg heroin
  • 2kg cocaine
  • 125kg cannabis

307.6 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code

Possessing a marketable quantity of a border controlled drug

  • 100g ecstasy/MDMA
  • 250g amphetamines, heroin or cocaine
  • 25kg cannabis

307.7 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code

Possessing a border controlled drug (where the quantity is unable to be proved, or where the amount is less than the marketable quantity)

The prosecution does not need to prove that you had a particular quantity – it will be enough that you possessed any quantity. You may be charged with this offence where the amount of drugs cannot be determined as they were never seized, or where the amount of drugs is less than the marketable quantity.

If you feel that the prosecution will be unable to prove any of the above elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you should discuss the option of pleading ‘not guilty’ with a lawyer who has extensive experience defending clients in serious drug matters.

By pleading ‘not guilty,’ you will be able to go to court to defend the charges. For example, your lawyer may be able to argue that you did not intend, or believe that another person intended to sell the drug or its products, or that you did not know that the substance was unlawfully imported.

Alternatively, you may be able to raise a defence to justify or explain your actions, for example:

  • Where you were coerced or threatened into possessing the drugs (duress)

If you have been charged with possessing a border controlled drug, it is important that you speak to a specialist drug lawyer, who has the in-depth knowledge and experience to properly advise you of your options.

Pleading Guilty

If you do not want to fight the charges in court, you may consider pleading guilty at an early stage in the proceedings. By doing this, you will save yourself the time and expense of a trial or hearing to determine your guilt.

Pleading guilty at an early stage may also result in a more favourable outcome, as the magistrate or judge will take your early guilty plea into account, and may impose a more lenient penalty, or a discount on your sentence.

However, before pleading guilty, it is important to speak to an experienced specialist drug lawyer, who will be able to advise you on whether there is any way that you can fight the charges – for example, by raising a defence to explain or justify your actions.

If you are thinking about pleading guilty, it is also important to be aware of the maximum penalties that you may face.

The maximum penalties for possession of a border controlled drug depend largely on the offence that you have been charged with, which in turn depends on the type and amount of the drug involved:

Relevant Section

If you are charged with…

The prosecution must prove you had this quantity…

If you are found guilty, the maximum penalty is…

307.5 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code

Possessing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug

  • 500g ecstasy/MDMA
  • 750g amphetamines
  • 1.5kg heroin
  • 2kg cocaine
  • 125kg cannabis

Life imprisonment and/or $825,000 fine.

307.6 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code

Possessing a marketable quantity of a border controlled drug

  • 100g ecstasy/MDMA
  • 250g amphetamines, heroin or cocaine
  • 25kg cannabis

25 years imprisonment and/or $550,000 fine.

307.7 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code

Possessing a border controlled drug

The prosecution does not need to prove that you had a particular quantity – it will be enough that you possessed any quantity. You may be charged with this offence where the amount of drugs cannot be determined as they were never seized, or where the amount of drugs is less than the marketable quantity.

2 years imprisonment and/or $4,400 fine.

However, these are maximum penalties, which means that they will only apply in the most serious cases.

The court 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:

Your best chance at getting a favourable penalty in your possession case is to get an experienced drug lawyer on your side. A specialist drug lawyer will have the knowledge and skills to persuade the judge to give you the most lenient penalty possible.

Why Choose Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Convenience

    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 info@sydneycriminallawyers.com.au.

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