Where there is not enough evidence to charge you with drug importation, the prosecution may instead choose to charge you 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 they allege you collected the drugs after they had been imported.
This is still a serious offence offence, but with the help of our highly experienced drug defence lawyers, 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:
- At least 500 grams of MDMA (or ‘ecstasy’)
- At least 750 grams of amphetamines
- At least 1.5 kgs of heroin
- At least 2 kgs of cocaine, and
- At least 100 kgs of cannabis leaf
The maximum penalty for this offence is life imprisonment.
A ‘marketable quantity’ refers to:
- At least 0.5 grams but less than 500 grams of MDMA (or ‘ecstasy’)
- At least 2 grams but less than 750 grams of amphetamines
- At least 2 grams but less than 1.5 kgs of heroin
- At least 2 grams but less than 2 kgs of cocaine, and
- At least 25 kgs but less than 100 kgs of cannabis leaf
The maximum penalty for this offence is 25 years imprisonment.
Needless to say, ‘any quantity’ covers all quantities of drugs.
The maximum penalty for this offence is 2 years imprisonment.
It is important to be aware that the ‘pure weight’ of the drug is relevant, which is the weight of the actual drug rather than the entire substance.
So, for example, if the relevant substance is 2 kgs of heroin at 10% purity, the weight for the purposes of the section is 200 grams of heroin.
This is different to NSW offences where the ‘admixture’ – or the entire weight of the substance – is relevant.
It is equally important to be aware that the prosecution is required to prove every element – or ingredient – of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. If they are unable to do so, you are entitled to be found not guilty.
Alternatively, you may be able to raise a defence to justify or explain your actions, for example:
The most common defence to the offence is ‘duress’, which is where:
- Your actions were due to a threat of death or serious injury to you and/or a member of your family
- There was no reasonable way to render the threat ineffective, and
- Your conduct was a reasonable response to the threat.
In the event that evidence of duress is raised by the evidence in your case, the prosecution is then required to prove beyond reasonable doubt that duress did not exist.
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:
- Section 10 Dismissal
- Conditional Release Order
- Community Correction Order
- Intensive Correction Order
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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:
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.