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Possession of precursors for manufacture

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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

In NSW it is an offence to possess a substance that is a 'precursor' to an illegal drug. A precursor is an ingredient or substance that can be used along with other ingredients or substances to make an illegal drug. Precursors include things such as chemicals, plants, fungi or other natural organisms.

A person can be charged with this offence if they have a substance which is shown to be a precursor to an illegal drug and they do not have a reasonable excuse for having it.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years imprisonment or 1000 penalty units.

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a possession of precursors charge.


THE OFFENCE OF POSSESSION OF PRECURSOR:

The offence of Possess Precursor is contained in section 24B(1) of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 and states:

A person who has in his or her possession a precursor of a quantity not less than the quantity prescribed by the regulations in relation to that precursor is guilty of an offence.

WHAT ACTIONS MIGHT CONSTITUTE POSSESSION OF PRECURSOR?

Examples of Possess Precursor include:

  • Having ten boxes of pseudoephedrine in your car;
  • Being found to have a jug which contains benxaldehyde (a chemical used to make methamphetamine) in your garage;
  • Having several small canisters of methylamine (a gas used to make methamphetamine) in your backpack; or
  • Storing multiple chemicals and plants in your makeshift drug lab.

WHAT THE POLICE MUST PROVE:

To convict you of Possess Precursor the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • That you were in possession of a substance;
  • That the substance was a precursor to a prohibited drug; and
  • You were aware you were in possession of the substance.

POSSIBLE DEFENCES FOR POSSESSION OF PRECURSOR:

The common ways to defend this charge are:

  • To maintain your innocence if you did not commit the act;
  • To argue that you were not in possession of the substance;
  • To argue that the substance is not a precursor to a prohibited drug;
  • To argue that you were not aware you were in possession of the substance;
  • To argue that you had the substance for a lawful activity or that you otherwise have a reasonable excuse for having it; or
  • To raise necessity or duress as the reason for your conduct.

WHICH COURT WILL HEAR YOUR MATTER?

The offence is a Table 1 offence which means that it will be finalised in the Local Court unless you or the Prosecutor chooses to have it dealt with in the District court.



Types of penalties:

Jail: This is the most serious penalty and involves full time detention in a correctional facility. Read more.

Intensive correction order (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.

Suspended sentence: This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.

Community service order (CSO): This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.

Good behaviour bond: This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.

Fines: When deciding the amount the magistrate or judge should consider your financial situation and your ability to pay any fine they set. Read more.

Section 10: avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.


where to next?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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