Drug Offences Lawyers
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. Different substances are dealt with in different courts and the lawyers at Stary Norton Halphen have appeared in the Supreme, County, and Magistrates’ Courts.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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:
- Drug Possession
- Drug Trafficking
- Drug Importation
- Drug Manufacture
- Drug Cultivation
Every case is different and your individual circumstances 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 in possession of a large quantity of drugs can incur a charge of Trafficking on the basis of being in Possession for 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 offences span. 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. What constitutes an offence depends on what you have been charged with and the likelihood of you going to jail varies broadly depending on what you have been charged with.
The sentence will ultimately 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, whilst trafficking a commercial quantity of drugs can incur a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment.
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What is assault?
As defined by the law, assault is either the application of force to another or causing another to fear / apprehend the use of force. A person does not necessarily have to lay a hand on another person in order to have committed an assault. They only need to have threatened to do so. If the police can prove either of these two things, a person will be charged with a summary assault. Although such a charge is the least serious of all assault charges, it still has a maximum penalty of imprisonment—3 months for summary assault and 6 months for an aggravated summary assault (e.g. where the victim is a female or a weapon has been used to effect the assault or the assault occurs in the company of others).
More serious examples of assault always require the police to prove the actual application of force. Furthermore, they must also prove the alleged victim has suffered an injury or numerous injuries and that you have caused them. In circumstances where the police allege you have assaulted a person and caused them an injury, you will be charged with either or both intentionally causing injury or recklessly causing injury. Should the injuries to the victim be numerous or significant, you may well be charged with either or both of intentionally causing serious injury or recklessly causing serious injury.
Causing injury to another is viewed seriously by the Courts and while the penalties vary significantly depending on what you have been charged with, the circumstances in which the allegations arise and whether or not you have a criminal history, once you are charged with one of these offences, in the absence of a viable defence, you are in most instances at risk of a term of imprisonment. In cases involving serious injury charges, in most instances you are at risk of a term of imprisonment of some length.
How serious is my case?
As violent crime covers a broad spectrum of incidents, the seriousness of your case and any subsequent sentencing will depend on the nature of the offence with which you are charged, any aggravating features of your offence and your level of culpability, with regard to the circumstances of your offending and the extent of your involvement in an offence.
Some important matters our criminal lawyers will help you understand include:
What the specific charge levelled against you is?
If multiple charges have been laid, the difference between those charges and whether you have a defence to one or all of the charges, your prospect of successfully defending one or all of the charges and whether or not it would be prudent of you to make a plea offer to one of the charges you are facing?
Whether there is evidence of the alleged crime—were there any witnesses? CCTV footage? Is there DNA evidence?
If you are amenable to pleading guilty the types of plea material you should obtain and the types of rehabilitative courses and treatement in which you should engage to give yourself the best opportunity of receiving the best possible penalty in the circumstances of your case.
What is an Intervention Order?
Intervention Orders, also known as Personal Safety Orders, Restraining Orders, Apprehended Violence Orders, Family Violence Orders and Domestic Violence Orders are court orders restricting a person’s access to and interaction with another person or group of people.
You can find more information in our dedicated Intervention Orders section.
I’ve been charged with a violent offence—what do I do?
The most important thing to do when charged with any offence is to engage an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible so that they are able to provide you with advice as to the process you are facing, how to approach your matter, whether or not you have an arguable defence, the various options available to you and what you can do while your case is progressing through the Courts so as to assist you in bettering your own position.
You can call Stary Norton Halphen at their Melbourne office on 1800 449 550 or reach us through our online enquiry form. For all After Hours enquiries, call 0407 410 821.
Am I likely to go to jail?
Violent crimes are treated very seriously by the courts and serious injury charges can and often do carry significant sentences of imprisonment if you are found guilty. Whether or not you go to jail will often depend on the nature of the charge before the Court and the circumstances of the offence. These matters are often the subject of negotiation with police and prosecutors.
When facing a charge of assault, be it because of a fight in public or an allegation of domestic violence, it is of the utmost importance you engage an experienced law firm who can advise you on your case and inform you of the potential outcomes, negotiate with the police or the office of public prosecutions in a strategic way to benefit you, and advocate and defend you forcefully in Court.
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 or not your matter proceeds to court or not.
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