This article was written by Andrew Fraser - Senior Associate - Canberra

Andrew works in the areas of criminal law and traffic law, providing practical advice in all of his clients’ matters. Andrew has, over many years, developed positive working relationships with prosecutors, magistrates and judges. His no-nonsense approach means he has a reputation for putting forward the best case possible for clients. Andrew has won many matters for his clients, including...

Concealing Property Derived From Drug Offence


Concealing property obtained from a drug offence is a serious offence and carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment in the ACT.

What Is Concealing Property Derived From A Drug Offence?

Section 639 of the Criminal Code Act 2002 defines the offence of concealing property derived from a drug offence as occurring when a person:

  • conceals property; or
  • transfers the ownership of property to someone else; or
  • modifies property; or
  • removes property from the ACT; and
  • knows that the property was derived from a drug offence directly or indirectly; and
  • does so with the intention of avoiding prosecution for a drug offence or enforcement of a penalty for a drug offence or to avoid the forfeiture of the property.

The maximum penalty for concealing property directly or indirectly derived from a drug offence is 2,000 penalty units and/or 20 years imprisonment.

Receiving property derived from a drug offence

Section 640 of the Criminal Code ACT 2002 states it is an offence to receive property directly derived from a drug offence. A person can be found guilty of this offence if they receive property knowing that:

  • the property is directly derived from a drug offence committed by someone else; and
  • they do not have a legal entitlement to the property.

The maximum penalty for receiving property directly derived from a drug offence is 700 penalty units and/or seven years imprisonment.

What Actions Might Constitute Concealing Property Derived From A Drug Offence?

  • Hiding a thing such as a sports car purchased with the profits of a drug deal outside of the ACT;
  • Disguising a thing purchased with the profits of a drug deal;
  • Transferring the title deed of a house bought with drug profits into another person’s name.

What The Police Must Prove

  • That the accused concealed, transferred, adapted or removed property; and
  • That the property was directly or indirectly obtained with the proceeds of a drug offence; and
  • The accused dealt with the property with the intention to avoid prosecution or penalty for a drug offence or the forfeiture of the property.

Possible Defences

A charge of concealing property derived from drug offences can be defended by arguing:

  • that the accused did not do the physical acts alleged (factual defence);
  • that the property was not obtained from profits of a drug offence;
  • that the accused did not intend to evade prosecution, penalty or the forfeiture of the property;
  • that the accused acted under duress;

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

The concealing property offence is an indictable offence and carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment so it will be heard in the ACT Supreme Court.

The receiving property offence has a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment so it will be heard in the ACT Supreme Court or the ACT Magistrates Court. If it is heard in the ACT Magistrates Court the maximum penalty the court can impose is a $15,000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment whereas if it is heard in the ACT Supreme Court the maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment can be imposed.

Related Offences

If a person is charged with the offence of concealing etc. property derived from drug offence, they may also be charged with other offences. The accused could be charged with hiding or concealing money originating from crime under Sections 400.3 to 400.8 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). They may also be charged with an offence under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006. More information about these offences can be found on the Money Laundering page.

Penalties

The maximum penalty for concealing property derived from drugs is 2,000 penalty units and/or 20 years imprisonment, however the court may impose any of the following penalties:

If you require legal advice about concealing etc. property derived from drugs or any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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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