Being involved in criminal proceedings for drug-related offending can be a stressful experience for not only the accused but their friends and family. To ease the burden and anxiety often associated, we suggest you consider the following issues.
1. Your Rights
The police are required to advise you of your rights upon arrest. These include the right to silence, the right to medical attention, the right to speak to a legal practitioner and the right to speak to a friend.
If you are arrested remain calm, as you can be charged with obstructing a police officer if you resist when the arrest is taking place.
2. What Can You Be Charged With?
The offence you are charged with may vary depending on the type, purity or weight of the prohibited drug or plant found to be in your possession.
If you are found to have a prohibited drug or plant in your car, in your house, in your bag or on your person you can be charged with possession. You can also be charged for possession if you possess prescription drugs that have not been prescribed to you.
Sell or Supply
If you are found to be in possession of a prohibited drug or plant that is over the threshold quantity specified in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1981 (WA), you can be presumed to have the intent to sell or supply the prohibited drug or plant.
If you say anything to police that admints an intention to share or give drugs to another, you have admitted an intention to supply.
Manufacturing or Cultivation
It is an offence to manufacture or cultivate prohibited drugs or plants. It is also an offence to allow another person to cultivate or manufacture prohibited drugs or plants on a property that you occupy, lease, or own.
3. Can You Be Declared a Drug Trafficker?
The court can declare you a drug trafficker if you are convicted of:
- A serious drug offence in respect to a large quantity of drugs or plants that fall over the threshold quantity; or
- A serious drug offence and have been convicted of two or more serious drug offences in the last ten years.
If the court makes the declaration, property owned by you at the time of the declaration may be confiscated.
4. Consider if Any Defences Apply
Consider discussing your case with a criminal defence lawyer to determine whether any defences apply to your specific circumstances. These may include:
- Mistake of fact;
- Lack of knowledge;
- Insanity; or
- Lawful authority.
5. Ensure you Attend Court
Making sure you attend court is vital. Failure to do so can result in an arrest warrant being issued. If you are unsure of the date that you are required to attend as you have lost your paperwork, we recommend calling the court to find out or searching the online court lists.
6. What Sentence Can Be Imposed?
The court has a wide array of sentencing options that they can impose, such as a:
- Conditional release order;
- Community-based order;
- Intensive supervision order;
- Suspended term of imprisonment;
- Immediate term of imprisonment; or
- In some cases, the court can make a spent conviction order.
For some offences, the court has to impose a minimum term of imprisonment. For this reason, you should consult a criminal defence lawyer before you have your first appearance in court.
Additionally, if you are found to be in possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis, the police may give you the option to attend a Cannabis Information Session instead of pursuing prosecution.
7. How May a Drug Conviction Effect Your Future?
Receiving a drug conviction can impact one’s life in various ways.
If convicted of a drug-related offence you can receive a criminal record. This may affect your ability to secure future employment in public or private sectors.
If you are not an Australian citizen and you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment, you could risk deportation.
Being convicted of a drug offence can impact your ability to prove that you are of good character, which is required when applying for a licence or registering as a security guard, real estate agent, medical practitioner, dentist, legal practitioner etc.
Some industries such as real estate, security and building require you to obtain a licence in which you must generally prove that you are of good character.
Being convicted of a serious drug offence may jeopardise your ability to obtain visas from some countries for overseas travel.
If you believe you may be under investigation or have been charged with a drug offence we recommend you obtain comprehensive legal advice at the earliest opportunity. A criminal defence lawyer will explain the relevant law to you, ascertain whether you have a defence to the charge and provide professional legal advice.
At Frichot & Frichot we are dedicated to providing clients with comprehensive and professional legal advice. If you or someone you know requires assistance with their legal matters, call Frichot & Frichot on (08) 9335 9877 or complete the form below to request an introductory consultation.