In NSW some drugs charges can be dismissed without conviction (see our Section 10 and Section 32 pages). However, people involved in the possession, manufacture, cultivation and supply of prohibited drugs in NSW should be prepared for severe penalties including full time imprisonment. NSW is not known for its lenient drug laws. CMH Lawyers are criminal defence lawyers with a difference - we don't want your repeat business, we want you to rehabilitate so you don't reoffend!
Sniffer dog offences
In NSW recreational users of cannabis, ecstasy (MDA or MDMA), methylamphetamine ("Ice") or other amphethamines such as "Speed", ketamine, GHB, cocaine or heroin can expect no leniency from the police. If you are found with drugs in your posession you will almost certainly be charged! NSW is a long way away from decriminalisation.
Sniffer dogs are routinely used in NSW. Anyone attending a dance party or music festivals such as Sydney's Parklife, Homebake, the Big Day Out, the Future Music Festival, Harbourlife and the gay and lesbian Mardi Gras is likely to see one. Sniffer dogs routinely visit inner city pubs and can be found at train stations throughout the city. They are regulars in and along King Street in Newtown.
Sniffer dogs have a very high false-positive rate, meaning people who are not carrying drugs are likely to be subjected to a search. Those detected by a sniffer dog and found to be carrying drugs are likely to be the subject of a criminal prosecution which may result in a conviction. NSW Police rarely exercise their discretion and issue warnings or cautions (although some cautions are issued under the Cannabis Cautioning Scheme for small amounts of cannabis).
In most cases criminal proceedings are routinely commenced even in relation to small or personal amounts of prohibited drugs. A charge and/or conviction for a drug offence can have a devastating impact on a person's employment and travel opportunities for many years.
Sentences for Drug Offences
Sometimes the police will tell a person after they have been arrested and charged that they will get a Section 10 at court. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Click here for more information on Section 10s.
Sometimes a charge for sniffer dog or drug offence can be dismissed without conviction pursuant to Section 10 or Section 32. At the other end of the spectrum, sentences
of full time imprisonment are routinely imposed on those convicted of
drug offences involving larger quantities or supply.
The Schedule of Prohibited Drugs
Largely because of the way the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1987 has been drafted in NSW, the manner in which drug offences are dealt with and the seriousness with which drug offences are treated by the courts is dictated by the nature and quantity of the drug involved.
For example, to stay within the small quantity of a prohibited drug, a person must not have more than following weights in their possession respectively:
0.25g Ecstasy (MDA or MDMA)
10.0g gamma butyrolactone (GHB)
30g Cannabis leaf
Note the widely varying weights between each prohibited drug and the very different way in which Ecstasy is regarded, in comparison to cannabis for example.
The Schedule of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1987 Act (click here for a copy) also dictates the traffickable quantities, indictable quantities, commercial quantities and large commercial quantities. These quantities determine whether a prohibited drug found in someone's possession is deemed to be for supply and whether the matter must be finalised in the Local or District Court. It wil also dictate the likely sentence outcomes.
For example, the traffickable quantity for ecstasy (and therefore the quantity for deemed supply) is only 0.75g. The result is that 2 or 3 pills of MDA or MDMA can be enough to constitute deemed supply making leniency in terms of sentence very difficult. More than 5 pills (depending on purity) can mean the matter must go up to the District Court of NSW where a sentence of imprisonment could be a very real possibility.
The drug laws in NSW can be confusing and the penalties can be very severe. Contact Karen Weeks Solicitor for advice if you have been charged with a sniffer dog or drug offence.