Possess Unlawfully Imported Border Controlled Drug


Where there is not enough evidence to charge you with drug importation, you may be charged with ‘possessing a marketable quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug.’

For example, you may be charged with this offence if the police cannot prove that you imported the drugs, or where you collected the drugs after they had been imported.

This is still a serious offence which may result in heavy penalties, however, with the help of our highly experienced drug law specialists, you can put yourself in the best possible position when it comes to fighting the charges.

Your Options in Court

Pleading Not Guilty
  • That a border controlled drug or plant was unlawfully imported
  • That you possessed that drug or plant
  • That you knew that the drug or plant was a border controlled drug or plant, or that you were reckless to that possibility.

There are 3 categories of ‘border controlled drug’ offences that police can charge you with:

1. Possessing a ‘commercial quantity’
2. Possessing a ‘marketable quantity’, and
3. Possessing any quantity.

A ‘commercial quantity’ refers to:

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

The maximum penalty for this offence is life imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $825,000.

A ‘marketable quantity’ refers to:

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

The maximum penalty for this offence is 25 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $550,000.

Needless to say, ‘any quantity’ covers all quantities of drugs.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 2 years imprisonment.

It is also important to keep in mind that where a commercial or marketable quantity is alleged, the prosecution must prove the existence of the pure weight beyond reasonable doubt.

Unlike state drug offences, only the pure weight of the drug is relevant in determining the quantity of the drug.

So, for example, if the total weight of the substance is 1kg but it is only 20% pure, you can only be charged with importing 200 grams (not 1kg).

However, it is important to be aware that the prosecution does not need to prove that you actually possesse the substance – they only need to prove that you “attempted” to possess it.

This may be relevant if tried but were unable to collect the drug, or where the drugs you collected were been substituted with a fake substance.

If we are of the view that the prosecution will be unable to prove any of the required factors beyond a reasonable doubt, we will prepare a compelling case to dispute the prosecution allegations.

Our drug law specialists will also be able to identify any legal defences to the charges, such as:

  • Where you did not intend, nor believe that another person intended to sell
    the drug (NOTE: This defence is not available for commercial quantities);
  • Where you did not know the drug was unlawfully imported
  • Where you were threatened or coerced into possessing the drug or plant (duress)
  • Where you honestly and reasonably believed that the drug or plant was not a border controlled drug or plant (honest and reasonable mistake of fact).

The seriousness of these charges requires the insight and experience of a drug law expert.

As Sydney’s leading drug lawyers, we will provide you with the best possible defence available however serious your case may be.

Pleading Guilty

If the evidence against you is extremely strong, we may form the view that the best course is to minimise the damage by negotiating lesser charges and pleading guilty.

In these situations, we will seek to push for changes in the number of charges, and/or the nature of the charges, and/or proposed ‘facts’ and then assist push for the lowest possible penalty.

Pleading guilty at an early stage can be beneficial, as it means that you will be spared the time and expense of a criminal trial.

Even more importantly, you may receive a ‘discount’ on your sentence – in other words, you will receive a more lenient penalty than you would have received if you were found guilty by the court.

However, before pleading guilty, you should get advice from a experienced criminal lawyers who have a proven track record of winning serious Commonwealth drug matters, as there may be some way to fight the charges and win your case.

If you are considering pleading guilty, it’s important to be aware of the maximum penalties for the offences.

However, you should also be aware that the maximum penalty will only apply in the most serious cases.

The various penalties that the court can impose include:

Our team of experienced drug lawyers can help you obtain a more lenient penalty by contesting the amount of drugs in question and having the charges downgraded; which could end up keeping you out of prison.

We will also prepare persuasive sentencing submissions which highlight positive factors such as your good character, which can help you get a more lenient outcome.

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?

When you have been charged with a Commonwealth drug offence, it’s essential that you seek advice and representation from a specialist drug lawyer with a proven track record of winning these complex cases.

The team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers® has years of experience winning some of the most complex and serious Commonwealth drug cases, including Australia’s largest drug importation trial – so you can rest assured that your future is in good hands.

We are passionate about protecting our clients’ rights and go above and beyond in every case to have the charges dropped at an early stage, saving our clients time and money.

We consistently obtain these outstanding results due to the hard work and efforts of our lawyers, who thoroughly examine all the evidence to find problems with the prosecution case.

If your matter ends up going to a defended hearing or jury trial, we will use our vast experience to fight for the charges to be thrown out.

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