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Drug Offences – Sentencing

Possession of a prohibited drug is a summary offence that can only be dealt with in the Local Court, no matter what the weight of the drug. Generally, if the drug is more than the traffickable quantity however, police will allege supply that is an indictable offence and in some circumstances can only be dealt with in the District Court.

If the local court decides that a conviction is necessary the offence carries a maximum penalty of $2,200 and 2 years imprisonment.

The local court has a wide range of sentencing options including a section 10 dismissal, various types of bonds, and community service orders. The Local Court Lawyers will be able to give you advice on the types of sentences the local court may impose due to your individual circumstances and the nature of your offence. Where gaol terms are being considered by the court the Local Court Lawyers can make applications to suspend the gaol term, make an assessment for an intensive correction order, or make an assessment for home detention.

Section 10 dismissal Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.

If the matter is minor and you have a good criminal history your lawyer can make an application to have the matter proved but dismissed. This would be like the local court giving a caution. The offence is proved but there is no conviction recorded. This will enable you to say that you have not been convicted of any drug offences regarding employment or international travel.

Cannabis Cautioning Scheme

The police have discretion to caution people for their possession of cannabis under their Cannabis Cautioning Scheme, provided certain conditions are meet. Sometimes the police will either not use their discretion or simply not know that it is available. If you fulfill the requirements for a cannabis caution and a caution was not administered, then the Local Court Lawyers will be keen to let the local court know this. This may significantly reduce any penalty you receive.

Other types of bonds

  • A section 9 bond is a conviction and requires you to be of good behaviour. It can also include requirements for supervisions and
  • A section 11 bondis what used to be called a Griffith Remand. It is used where intensive rehabilitation and participation in an intervention program is
  • A section 12 bond is a gaol term that is suspended. If the suspended sentenced is breached by committing another offence then, unless there are good reasons not to, the court will impose a gaol term. More likely then not, the court will add a term to the suspended sentence for the fresh offence/s.

Offences committed whilst on a bond

If you are on a section 9 bond, section 10 bond, section 11 bond or section 12 bond at the time of the offence, the local court will most likely decide to initiate breach proceedings and re-sentence you for those offences. The Local Court Lawyers will ensure that all avenues including the Crime Sentencing and Procedure Act 1999 are used to achieve the best possible outcome where this situation arises.

Pre Sentence Report

If the local court is considering a gaol term, the Local Court Lawyers will make an application for a pre sentence report to explore options other than gaol. We will guide you through the process to ensure that you are aware of the pre conditions necessary to comply with this order and avoid a gaol term.

Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment program (MERIT)

Where drug addiction is an issue that you would like addressed, the Local Court Lawyers can make an application for you to go to rehabilitation as a condition of your bail. If you successfully complete a rehabilitation program then a reduction in penalty can be expected. In some cases a gaol term can be avoided.

Representations to the police – plea bargaining

If you have exercised your right to silence, the police may not have all the facts. There may also be issues in relation to the admissibility of evidence or there is other evidence available that the police were not aware of. Once you

have given your version to the Local Court Lawyers there may be a factual or legal position that can be presented to the Prosecutions Section of the NSW Police Force in writing. The Local Court Lawyers are well versed in this process and the likely prospects of success. If written submissions are successful then a charge can be withdrawn and you can avoid the expenses associated with a hearing, you may receive a less serious penalty by amending the facts sheet or the prosecution may lay a less serious charge.

Mental Health

If you suffer from a mental illness or condition then the Local Court Lawyers can help. If certain conditions are met we can make an application under section 32 of the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act to have your offence discharged, without the offence being proved and placed on a community treatment order.

Crimes Sentencing Procedure Act 1999

The Crimes Sentencing Procedure Act 1999 lists many matters the Local Court is to take into account when sentencing. These matters include circumstances of aggravation and mitigation. The Local Court Lawyers will be able to use their experience and knowledge to ensure that your best case is presented to the local court.

If you have a drug charge and need a lawyer or would like more information, please contact us.

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