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Drug offences contain variously related, attached and suspected actions towards the use, possession, abuse or intoxication, or trafficking of drugs. Drug Laws are tight and straightforward in Australia, especially for states like Victoria. Defaulting on any of the drug laws in Australia as stipulated by legislation can attract;
The legislation that provides further details, including punishments and terms of offence is the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (DPCS Act). And the Act contains all the possible criminal offences from the use, distribution and possession of illicit drugs.
The Act comprises two types of offences under which a person is charged in a Victorian Court. It includes;
These drugs are illegal to possess without a doctor’s prescription or note. It also covers Schedule 8 drugs (including schedule 3 and 4 substances).
Synthetic drugs, and Analogues of drugs were recently included in this list (drug of dependence). An analogue of a drug is just a similar but modified version of the drug.
These drugs will earn you a criminal offence if they are found with you. Under no condition should you possess any of these drugs. Some of them are;
These drug offences are treated as the same criminal offence in a Victorian court. However, you may receive different sentencing based on the type of drug law you breached.
Furthermore, the penalties for these drug offences are related to the quantity the offender possesses. The greater the quantity of the drug, the more severe the punishments will become.
The State pronounces you guilty of a drug offence depending on the following actions relating to the drugs. These actions with drugs include;
Drug Use Offences in Victoria
Under section 70(1) of the DCPS Act, the use of Drugs may be defined as smoking, inhaling the fumes, injecting, swallowing or taking these drugs through any means into your body.
The penalties the court imposes for drug offences depends on the amount or quantity they have consumed.
The Penalties for drug usage in Victoria
Section 75 of the Act stipulates these offences as summary offences, and the penalties the offender get are;
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)/Cannabis Use attracts penalties (s75(a)) up to;
Other Drug use offences attract penalties (s75(a)) up to;
Section 73 of the DPCS Act lists possession of these drugs as indictable offences within Victoria State. This decision is referenced from the Victorian Supreme court ruling of; R v Clarke & Johnstone  VR 643.
A person possesses a drug if they;
A person can “possess” drug through any of these mediums;
Under the DCPS Act, the accused will remain guilty of possession unless they can prove on the “balance of probability” that they were not in common law possession of the drug.
This type of defence is a “Deeming Possession”; the accused person is granted the burden of proof rather than the accuser. And it includes situations where the accused is;
The maximum penalty for the possession of any other drug where it is not related to trafficking is;
For any of these two sentencing to apply (as summary offences), the accused must satisfy the court per the balance of probabilities that "the possession" had nothing to do with trafficking of the drugs.
However, if the court is not satisfied with the accused defence that possession had nothing to do with trafficking, then it imposes higher penalties of;
It is an offence to cultivate or grow a narcotic plant, seed or roots, or its relative compounds in any form in Victoria. Section 72B of the Act includes; sowing, planting, growing, tending, grafting, dividing, transplanting, nurturing or harvesting.
The prosecution may not need to prove that the offender knew the plant they cultivated. However, it may still be a defence if you did not know, or suspect or expect that you were cultivating a narcotic plant.
The court will impose penalties depending on the quantity of the narcotic plant cultivated. The court can issue penalties (s72A)
The offences of Drug Trafficking as detailed in the (s70(1)) of the DCPS Act includes the following;
Drug Trafficking offences incur some of the most severe penalties in Victoria. They are categorised based on the quantity, person trafficked to, or a prescribed condition;
Trafficking of Non-commercial quantities incurs punishments of;
For offences of trafficking to a person under 18 or within 500 metres of a school; the penalties are;
For trafficking Commercial quantities; the penalties are;
For trafficking large commercial quantities, the court will impose penalties of;
For possession of a tablet press or a prescribed precursor chemical, the penalties are;
For possession of substance or material, or documents (relating to preparation, cultivation or manufacture of a drug) or equipment for trafficking a drug;
Not every drug offence will result in a court conviction or jail term. The court can with their discretion apply other means to deal with first-time offenders. These programs aim to;
It is common for a first-time drug offender to receive a caution or court official warning instead of a criminal conviction or other punishments.
The caution is issued by the Police with certain conditions or programs the offender must complete.
Furthermore, If the offender completes this program, the charge will be withdrawn by the Police, and a Police caution is issued for a period. Some of these programs in the caution can be;
However, if the offender fails to complete any of these programs, the Police (prosecutor) will proceed with the charge in court.
The Criminal Justice Diversion program may also be imposed instead of sentencing for first-time drug offenders. However, the Police informant must consent to the diversion, and the Magistrate must also agree to the terms and programs after evaluating some factors.
The Magistrate will agree to a diversion program if/when the;
These programs listed here are alternative terms to a court sentencing or conviction with far less damaging consequences. It is better to get the court to grant you these programs rather than a conviction, especially where your criminal records are referenced for lots of purposes.
Drug offences are a serious criminal offence and where the offence accumulates in a court conviction, the offence will show up on the individual's national police check in Victoria.
The results are released in accordance with the spent convictions scheme of Victoria.
Individuals obtain their national criminal history check online from the Australian National Character Check website.
Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 - http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/dpacsa1981422/
R v Clarke & Johnstone  VR 643 - https://victorianreports.com.au/judgment/view/1986-VR-643
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