Our criminal lawyers have extensive experience in representing clients for all types of drug matters. We have represented a broad range of clients spanning possession for personal use to the trafficking and manufacture of drugs, including low-level transactions and the importation and trafficking of large commercial quantities.
Victorian law prohibits a large number of drugs and plants, including artificially manufactured drugs, such as ecstasy, ice, and amphetamines, as well as naturally cultivated substances like heroin, cocaine, and cannabis. The amount of drugs your case concerns will determine which Court your matter is heard in. At Stary Norton Halphen, our lawyers work across all jurisdictions, being Magistrates' Court, County Court or Supreme Court, we have the experience required to assist you.
As one of Melbourne’s most experienced law firms when it comes to drug crime we understand the concerns and common questions clients may have and we are committed to ensuring you are vigorously and fairly defended and that you understand and are engaged in your defence and the legal process.
I’ve been charged with a drug offence—what do I do?
The most important thing to do when charged with a drug offence is to find expert legal representation. Without a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer on your side, you are up against the power of the state on your own.
When placed under arrest, if you do not get an opportunity to speak to a lawyer first, it is advisable to say nothing other than to give the police your name, address, and date of birth. Relinquishing your right to silence without legal advice can and often does result in giving answers that could incriminate you.
Call Stary Norton Halphen on (03) 8622 8200 or contact us through our website. For After Hours enquiries, please ring 0407 410 821.
What are the different drug charges?
The charges laid against you will obviously depend on the circumstances of your case. There are different categories of drug crimes, including:
Every case is different and the circumstances of your case will determine which charges are laid against you. For example, if you are found with a small quantity of drugs, you may be charged with Possession for Personal Use, whilst being found in possession of a large quantity of drugs can result in a charge of Trafficking on the basis of being found in Possession for the Purpose of Sale, which constitutes a far more serious crime under the law.
More information on how quantities are legally defined is available via Victoria Legal Aid or you can review Schedule 11 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act (Vic) 1981.
How serious is my case?
If you are charged with a drug-related matter, its seriousness will mainly depend on the quantity of drugs or plants seized and the length of time the offending spans. Your defence will often depend on matters such as:
Did you have physical control over the illicit substance?
Did you have knowledge of the substance found in your car, home, or on your property?
Did your actions amount to trafficking as understood by the law?
What if my case involves ‘legal’ drugs?
Under Australian law, the use of prescription and even over-the-counter drugs for illegal purposes, such as selling or using anti-depressants without a prescription, is a punishable offence. Crimes involving ‘controlled substances’ have similar and sometimes even the same punishments as crimes involving illicit drugs, including large fines and jail time and can lead to a permanent criminal record.
Am I likely to go to jail?
If your case progresses to court, the prosecution will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that an offence occurred. Whether or not you are likely to go to jail depends on the seriousness of the offence with which you have been charged.
To elaborate, the sentence you are likely to receive will depend on the charges levelled against you, the quantity of drugs in your possession or over which you have control, and any previous criminal history you do or don’t have. For example, those caught with a small amount of cannabis and who have no prior criminal records are often handed a caution or if they are charged, receive a diversion, which means they avoid a criminal record, the maximum penalty for trafficking in a commercial quantity is 25 years imprisonment, so you can expect to go to jail if convicted of this offence.
Advice from a competent and experienced criminal lawyer before you are interviewed can and often does have a meaningful impact on the outcome of your case and in some instances, is the difference between whether your matter proceeds to court or not.
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Doyle's Guide First Tier Criminal Law firm (2020, 2021 and 2022).