Criminal activity involving drugs can take many different forms whether it be consuming drugs, possessing drugs, possessing or selling drug utensils, supplying drugs to other people, manufacturing or producing drugs, dealing with drug precursors, importing drugs and various other kinds of dealings with illegal substances can see a person charged with very serious criminal offences.
Some drug offences carry lighter sentences whilst other drug offences can carry serious time in jail.
If a person is charged with a drug offence then the Police will need to gather and present a certain level of evidence to the Court in order to substantiate the charges.
If a person has been arrested for a drug offence we generally recommend that the person obtain legal advice from a quality criminal lawyer before making any statement to the police. Often statements made by a person can be used against them when their case comes before the Court.
In dealing with drug offences our Sydney Drug Lawyers will examine and assess all of the police evidence involved in a persons matter and explore whether there are any legal defences available to that persons matter.
Some of the Penalties and Sentences available to the Court for drug crimes in New South Wales can include the following:
Section 10 - Avoid A Criminal Conviction
Under Section 10 of the Criminal (Sentence Procedure) Act 1999 the Courts have the discretion to not record a conviction on a person who is found guilty of a particular drug offence in New South Wales. Generally, the Court will only issue a Section 10 for the less serious drug matters and certain circumstances of the matter will need to be present to allow for the Courts to exercise such discretion. Often when a Court does issue a Section 10 they will also issue the defendant with a Good Behaviour Bond for a specified period of time. Contact one of our Drug Lawyers to discuss whether you may be in line to possibly obtain a Section 10 for your matter.
A Court imposed fine is probably the most common type of penalty handed down by a Court. The amount of the fine will be determined by the Judge or Magistrate and a number of factors will be taken into consideration when deciding how much the amount of the fine will be. Such factors would include the defendants employment status, their ability to pay the fine, the seriousness of the offence and whether any financial gain was made by the defendant through the offences.for less serious drug offences.
Good Behaviour Bond
The Courts have the ability to place a defendant found guilty of drug crimes on what is called a Good Behaviour Bond. This is basically where the defendant signs an undertaking to be of good behaviour by not committing any further crimes within a specified period of time. If the defendant does not commit any further crimes within the period of the Good Behaviour Bond then that bond will automatically expire at the end of the specified period. However, if the defendant does breach the Good Behaviour Bond within the specified period of time then the defendant can be brought back before the Court and re-sentenced on the same matter on which they received the Good Behaviour Bond for plus any other new additional offences they may have committed. The Court can place a person on a Good Behaviour Bond for a period of time anywhere up to 5 years from the time of sentence. The Court has the power to exercise such a Good Behaviour Bond under Section 9 of the Criminal (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.
Community Service Order
One particular type of non-custodial penalty that the Court often hands down is a Community Service Order, otherwise known as a CSO. Basically a Community Service Order will mean that the defendant will need to report to Probation and Parole Services who will then assess their suitability to perform certain community types of work. If the defendant is unsuitable for performing Community Service work due to being unfit or some other medical reason then this may exclude them from performing such an order which means the Court may have to consider other forms of penalties or sentences. Probation and Parole Services may also recommend that the defendant perform specific self-help programs to help them overcome problematic issues they may have. The Courts have the power to exercise a Community Service Order under Section 8 of the Criminal (Sentence Procedure) Act 1999.
Suspended Jail Sentence
A Court can issue a term of imprisonment however decide to suspend the period of imprisonment by placing the defendant on a Good Behaviour Bond under Section 12 of the Criminal (Sentence Procedure) Act 1999. If the defendant does not breach the Good Behaviour Bond within the specified period then they will not have to be subjected to incarceration. However, if they do breach the Good Behaviour Bond during the specified period then they may have to serve out the remainder of the period in full time custodial imprisonment. It must be noted that a Suspended Jail Sentence can only be issued by a Court where the term of imprisonment imposed on the defendant is not more than 2 years.
Intensive Correction Order
As of 1 October 2010 the Intensive Correction Order (ICO) replaced the sentence of Periodic Detention. The Intensive Correction Order is a form of punishment which is basically 1 step away from a term of full time imprisonment. A Court can only issue a sentence for an Intensive Correction Order where the term of imprisonment is less than 2 years.
A person who is sentenced to an Intensive Correction Order may have specific conditions attached to their sentence such as:
a) Reside only at a premises approved by Probation and Parole Services.
b) Be subject to random unannounced home visits.
c) Submit to searches.
d) Be subject to drug and alcohol testing.
e) Be subject to electronic monitoring.
f) Comply with curfews.
A breach of any additional conditions set by the Court could see the defendant serve out the remainder of the Intensive Correction Order period in full time custody.
A term of imprisonment is the most severe form of punishment that a Court can hand down to a defendant as it means that the person will lose all of their usual freedoms enjoyed by member of our community by being locked away in a correctional facility, otherwise known as jail or prison.
Drug crimes in New South Wales are considered extremely serious offences and most drug crimes are punishable by terms of imprisonment. The Courts will certainly assess the charges and also whether there are any other more appropriate forms of punishments other than jail however many drug crimes do carry lengthy terms of imprisonment.
Below we have listed a number of the most common drug offences which are laid by police in New South Wales. For more information on each drug offence click on that offence to find out more.