Please be ready with your application reference number starting with 'P'. For example P1234567
Most States and Territories in Australia, including NSW and the ACT, operate a Cannabis Caution Scheme. Under this Scheme, offenders can get off from a cannabis charge with a cannabis notice/caution.
The Scheme authorises the Police to issue a cannabis notice or caution to anyone guilty of a minor offence involving Cannabis (possession). The Police will only give a caution where there are no severe impacts or aggravated causes to the cannabis offence.
The Police Check usually discloses all details of an individual’s criminal records in Australia. Police checks do not disclose notices, cautions or warnings issued by any other agency without a court order or sentencing.
If the Police issue you a cannabis notice, it can only appear in the Police records database. Notices, Cautions, Warnings issued by the Police are not included in a person's criminal records and hence a Cannabis notice will not show up on a police check.
If you apply for a Police Check in Australia, you can be ensured that your cannabis notice will not appear on a national criminal history check certificate.
Yes, the Police will issue up to two cannabis notices to an offender.
Usually, the first caution provides education about the effects and impacts of cannabis use. The Cannabis notice must give some explanations about the caution and other forms of warnings and conditions.
The second caution for cannabis possession will require the offender to undergo a mandatory education program on cannabis use.
Generally, the Police cannot issue an unlimited number of Cautions/Warnings/Notices for an offender. If the Police records show a pattern of re-offending and stubbornness for the Law, the Police officer will either;
The Cannabis Caution is a discretionary program the Police executes. There is no hard and fast rule to the manner or persons that can receive a Police caution. Of course, all Police cautions the officer issues must not fault the State’s legislation on;
Depending on the circumstance around the offence, a person can get a cannabis caution if;
Only minor offences of possession can qualify for the Cannabis Cautions Scheme. The Police will not grant you a Cannabis notice if they catch you with a suppliable or commercial quantity. Under the legislation for drug offences in NSW or in the ACT, it doesn't matter that you are supplying the drug.
The Police will only think of a cannabis notice if the offender has less than 5g in their possession. Any more than this, and;
The Law grants a minor cannabis offence as one where the person possesses less than a suppliable amount. However, it may not count in your favour if the Police find any other indicting circumstance regardless of the amount of Cannabis in your possession.
The Police cannot issue more than two cautions for a cannabis offence. If the Police records show that you have more than a caution for the same crime, the Police will take further actions. Depending on the offence, the Police may charge you to Court before a Magistrate.
It will count in your favour to have a clean record, especially in drug-related matters. The Police consider a person's criminal record, especially those relating to drugs.
The Police may also determine if you are suitable for the Cannabis caution by assessing your other criminal records. Offenders whose records reveal a tendency to re-offend may not get a Police caution.
Other records the Court may look at include the offender's criminal history relating to;
It can be an aggravating factor if the Police apprehend you of another crime while possessing Cannabis. Or,
The Police cannot issue a cannabis caution (or any other caution) independently. There must be certain conditions around the matter before the Police can give a caution.
The Police can only issue a Caution if you admit guilt of the offence. However, if you contest the Police findings, you must appear before a Magistrate.
The offender must consent to receive the caution. It includes acknowledging the order and abiding by the conditions the Police attach to the caution.
Breaking any of these conditions may result in the Police charging you for the original offence.
The Police can only issue a caution if a Magistrate Court can hear the matter. However, Police cautions serve as a relief to the Australian judicial system and those of the States.
The high number of matters the Court has to hear means that the judicial system may get overwhelmed if every matter was referred to the Courts. Police cautions offer the Australian judicial system an alternative route to settle cases considered less significant for a full-court proceeding.
No, you don’t have/need to attend court. Not unless you intend to contest the decision of the Police officer.
The Police caution is different from a court attendance order or a court summons. Cannabis caution can be issued and settled on the spot. When the Police issue a cannabis notice or any other caution on the spot, the offender can settle such matters or conditions immediately.
The only time you will appear before a Magistrate for a drug offence is;
You can challenge all orders or Cautions the Police impose on you in a Magistrate Court. However, you must be cautious in doing this and prepare adequately for your defence.
There are risks to challenging a Police caution in Court depending on how strong your evidence and legal representative is.
If you decide to challenge a Cannabis notice or any other caution/warnings in Court, you must attend and honour all court summons.
The procedures can involve some complex steps that your legal representative will help you with. And Yes, you must employ a legal representative. Generally, only professional lawyers can help you present a good defence.
Depending on the;
The Court can issue any of the following judgement on the matter;
Uphold your contest and acquit you of the charges
If the Court finds no reason to find you guilty for the offence, they will acquit and dismiss the charge. It means you don’t have to settle for any of the fines or other previous conditions the Police impose.
Dismiss the contest and amend the orders
The Court may also dismiss your contest and uphold the Police caution or penalties. The Court can also amend other conditions that the Police impose.
Find the offender guilty and sentence them
If the Court finds you guilty of all charges and sentences you, it will appear on your Police Check. The Court may also issue further penalties like;
The Police will usually issue an offender the Cannabis caution on the spot after confirmation of the offence. If the Police issues the caution, the prosecutor/Police can take no further actions against you.
Cannabis caution is an alternative penalty/charge for the cannabis offence of possession.
If the Police accuse you of a cannabis possession offence with clear evidence, it is better to admit to it if;
A Police caution is better compared to getting a Criminal record. If you get a criminal record, it will appear on subsequent national criminal history checks.
Since the police check has become a legal document of assessment in Australia and all States, every conviction on that record may hamper your chances.
If the Court records a conviction for your drug offence;
Not all offences can become spent under the Spent Convictions Scheme. Some violations are too severe under the Scheme to be erased from the individual's record.
Specific roles require the employer to perform a deep background check on the candidates. And for specific roles (e.g. child work related roles), you may need to disclose;
If you get a recent conviction, then in some circumstances you must disclose it at an official party’s request. It can be an offence to hide details of your convictions from a legal official.
A police Caution is a far progression than getting a criminal record. If the Police decide to charge the matter to a court, you should employ a lawyer to defend you.
NSW has a program that allows young people (juveniles) to "escape" conviction for minor drug offences. The Court reckons that having such convictions can affect their future and prospects for an extended period.
Also, instead of punishing the young offender harshly, the legislation allows them to receive Police cautions/warnings. These stipulations are made under the Young Offenders Act 1997 (NSW).
For context, the description for young people may vary slightly among the States and Territories in Australia. The Young Offenders Act 1997 states young people as those under the ages of 18.
The NSW also has various programs that help adult offenders overcome their serious drug problems. These programs may even run during a Court session to evaluate and treat the offender’s drug problems.
The progress of the treatments and rehabs may influence the Court's final ruling on the matter. However, such issues are dedicated to the NSW Drug Court.
The Police in the ACT uses the Simple Cannabis Offence Notice (SCON) to warn offenders of a minor cannabis offence. It is a less severe substitute for a court attendance notice.
Just like in other States, the Police have the discretion to issue an "SCON" where they consider the matter trivial or of less importance to the Court.
If you get an SCON, you will have to remit the fines of $100 in complete settlements. And you will not;
The Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 (ACT) lists some offences that can qualify as simple cannabis offences;
The Cannabis Caution Scheme present in all states serves a lot of purposes. Three of the primary purposes of this Scheme is to;
A lot of crimes in Australia relate to drug offences of negligible impact to the State or people. Prosecuting all of these matters before a Court in Australia or other States can be costly and time-wasting. It will limit the court ability to handle other issues of more significance.
In NSW, where the Scheme started in 2000, it has reduced the tendency of people to commit or re-offend a drug-related offence. It shows that cannabis offenders charged to Court have a 14% chance to re-offend, compared to the 5% of those issued a caution.
Some young people are impulsive and lack full knowledge of the impact of their offence. Having a conviction for a drug charge at such periods will hunt them in future. Cannabis caution will guide them on the various laws and impacts of drug offences instead of a conviction.
If you are an individual, you can obtain a national criminal record check certificate online via Australian National Character Check’s police check application form. The results are dispatched via email.
Business and Enterprise Customers
Business and Enterprise customers are able to sign up to ANCC’s business portal where they can order, manage, track and view candidates’ criminal history check results on their business portal. Organisations will undergo a process for approval prior to being granted access to ANCC’s business portal.
ANCC sends an invite to the applicant to complete their criminal record check online and handles the application and informed consent form. Contact ANCC’s business and enterprise partnerships team today to enquire about setting up a business portal for your organisation.
Young Offenders Act 1997 (NSW) - https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-1997-054
Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 (ACT) - https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/alt_a1989-11co
Legal Services Commission of South Australia (Expiation of Simple Cannabis Offences) - https://lsc.sa.gov.au/dsh/ch12s06.php
NSW Police Force (Drug Programs and Initiatives) - https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/crime/drugs_and_alcohol/drugs/drug_pages/drug_programs_and_initiatives
AFP Governance (AFP Practical Guide on Drug Diversions) - https://www.afp.gov.au/sites/default/files/PDF/IPS/PRA10076%20Drug%20diversions%20ACT%20Policing.pdf
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