If you are faced with drug-related charges in either Queensland or New South Wales, there are specific state-based laws which could see you exposed to a wide range of penalties, including imprisonment, fines, good behaviour bonds, or guilty pleas without criminal conviction.
Regardless of which state you’re in, having a solid defence in court is key and can mean the difference between prison time and walking away with minor charges or avoiding a criminal record. To learn about the differences between drug offences in QLD and NSW, read on and find out what it means to be charged with a drug-related offence.
Queensland drug offences
When it comes to drug charges in Queensland, under the Drugs Misuse Act 1986, penalties depend on the seriousness of the charge – the type of drug, quantity and circumstances surrounding the offence are all factors that will be considered when determining the severity of the charge. Drug offences include:
Which drugs are illegal?
In Queensland, illegal drugs are divided into the following categories:
Schedule 1 includes:
- methlyamphetamine (ice or crystal meth)
- phencyclidine (angel dust)
- lysergide (LSD)
- methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy)
- paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) and paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) – drugs sometimes sold as ecstasy, but more powerful.
Schedule 2 includes:
Possession of illegal drugs
Under section 9 of the Drugs Misuse Act 1986, it is an offence for a person to be in possession of a dangerous drug. Interestingly, possession isn’t the same as ownership, so even if you didn’t buy the drug or use it, you are still able to be charged.
Supplying illegal drugs
When evaluating the seriousness of a supply offence, several factors such as the type and quantity of drugs involved are considered. Supply is a wide legal term which encompasses:
- giving, distributing, selling, administering or transporting drugs
- offering to give, distribute, sell, administer, transport or supply drugs
- preparing to give, distribute, sell, administer, transport or supply drugs.
Trafficking illegal drugs
Trafficking is the supply of drugs as part of an illegal commercial operation – usually with larger amounts of drugs, several acts of supply, or evidence of an organised business that supplies drugs.
What happens if I’m charged with a drug offence in QLD?
Firstly, if you’re charged, it’s paramount that you seek legal advice. By engaging a legal representative, your first court appearance will be heard much faster.
Secondly, make sure to obtain a copy of your Queensland Police Form 9 (QP9) from the police prosecutor at your first court date. The document contains the police summary of events relating to the offence and the charges against you, and any evidence that the police prosecutor intends to rely on will be listed in it.
NSW drug offenses
In NSW, police can charge you with a number of offences relating to prohibited drugs. These include
- Importing or other actions
Under the NSW Law Enforcement (Powers & Responsibilities) Act 2002, police have the power to search people, their belongings and vehicles, and to use sniffer dogs to detect drugs.
It is an offence to administer or attempt to administer drugs to yourself or another person, even with their consent or if the drug was prescribed or not prescribed. Therefore, it is an offence to administer drugs such as Codeine, Dexamphetamine, Valium, buprenorphine, or methadone without a physician nearby or following the dosage prescribed.
If you are caught with drugs for your own personal use, NSW carries a number of possible penalties for drug possession with the maximum penalty being a fine of $11,000 with two years’ imprisonment. The severity of the charge depends on the amount of drugs in your possession and your previous record.
If you are caught supplying or attempting to supply a prohibited drug without lawful authority, you will be charged and convicted accordingly. The penalties for supplying a prohibited drug differ, depending on quantity and other factors the court deems relevant. This includes:
- offering or agreeing to supply, even if no deal takes place
- being knowingly concerned in supply, for example, introducing someone to a dealer
- supplying a legal substance that you claim is a prohibited drug, for example, selling aspirin and passing it off as heroin
- pooling money and splitting up purchased drugs between the group of buyers
- having drugs in your possession for supply.
What happens if I’m caught with cannabis?
A person caught with cannabis is not eligible for a penalty notice. Police will normally issue a caution if you:
- have less than 15g
- admit to having the drug for personal use
- have no prior drug convictions
- are not committing another offence at the time
- do not have more than two prior cautions for cannabis possession
However, penalty notices and cannabis cautions are issued by police at their own discretion. Even for a first offence, a police officer has the right to arrest and charge a person for possessing a possessing a small amount of a drug. This discretion is contained in the Criminal Procedure Act 1986.
What happens if I’m charged with a drug offence in NSW?
If you face drug charges in NSW, like QLD or any other state, it’s imperative you obtain suitable legal advice. Adequate representation will advise, guide and represent you in court for any drug-related charges and allow you to explore all your options – including negotiations with the prosecution to get charges downgraded or withdrawn, whilst tactfully working out your best defence.
Mark Savic Legal can help
Knowledge and experience are the only tools to use when so much is at stake. If you’ve been charged with a drug-related offence in Coffs Harbour, Maclean, Woolgoolga, Grafton, Yamba, Northern NSW, The Gold Coast or Brisbane, contact Mark Savic Legal today.