Possession of a Drug of Dependence

If you have been charged with possession of a drug of dependence, here is some information to know and consider in seeking legal advice with Emma Turnbull Lawyers.

Elements of the offence

For the prosecution to prove the offence of possession of a drug of dependence, they must satisfy three elements of the offence. They can be found in s 73 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) and are as follows:

  1. The accused possessed a substance;
  2. The substance was a drug of dependence; and
  3. The accused intended to possession a drug of dependence.

A drug of dependence is defined in s 4 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic).

Will I have to go to court?

Charges for possession of a drug of dependence will usually be heard in the Magistrates’ Court. A charge for possession of a drug of dependence will usually be heard only by a Magistrate.

Once the case goes to court, it is up to the prosecution to prove the elements of the offence. It is important that you seek expert legal advice in building a defence as the possible penalties for this offence are serious.

Maximum penalty:

Where the Court finds on the balance of probabilities that the offence was not committed by the person for any purpose relating to trafficking in that drug of dependence, the maximum penalty is 1 year imprisonment. The maximum penalty in any other circumstance is a 5 years imprisonment, known as Level 6 imprisonment.

What sentences are usually given?

According to the Sentencing Council Victoria, between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2016, 1164 people were sentenced with possession of a drug of dependence as the principal offence. From that number, 39.8% were given imprisonment sentences, with a maximum term of 4.54 years. The median length of an imprisonment sentence was 1.5 years.

Non-imprisonment sentences included Community Corrections Orders (12.3%) and fines (33%).

What do I do now?

To ensure the best chance of a successful defence, it is important to get in contact with an expert criminal lawyer as soon as possible. At Emma Turnbull Lawyers, we have experienced criminal defence lawyers who can assist you in defending this charge.