Trafficking in a Controlled Drug


It is an offence in the ACT to traffic in a controlled drug. The maximum penalty ranges from fines of 1,000 penalty units to imprisonment for life, depending on the quantity of the drug.

The Offence of Trafficking in a Controlled Drug

Trafficking in a controlled drug is divided into a number of offences based on the quantity of the drug trafficked. These offences are contained in section 603 of the Criminal Code 2002 which states that a person commits an offence if they:

  • Traffic in cannabis (contrary to section 603(8) of the Criminal Code2002), which carries a maximum penalty of a fine of 300 penalty units, imprisonment for 3 years or both.
  • Traffic in a controlled drug other than cannabis (contrary to section 603(7) of the Criminal Code2002), which carries a maximum penalty of a fine of 1,000 penalty units, imprisonment for 10 years or both.
  • Traffic in a trafficable quantity of a controlled drug (contrary to section 603(5) of the Criminal Code2002), which carries a maximum penalty of 1,000 penalty units, imprisonment for 10 years or both.
  • Traffic in a commercial quantity of a controlled drug (contrary to section 603(3) of the Criminal Code2002), which carries a maximum penalty of a fine of 2,500 penalty units, imprisonment for 25 years or both.
  • Traffic in a large commercial quantity of a controlled drug (contrary to section 603(1) of the Criminal Code2002), which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

What is ‘Trafficking’?

To understand why you may be charged with an offence of trafficking, it is important to acknowledge the broad definition given to the act of trafficking. The term ‘traffic’ is defined in section 602 of the Criminal Code 2002 which states that:

A person traffics in a controlled drug if the person:

  • Sells the drug; or
  • Prepares the drug for supply either with the intention of selling any of it or believing that someone else intends to sell any of it; or
  • Transports the drug either with the intention of selling any of it or believing that someone else intends to sell any of it; or
  • Guards or conceals the drug either with the intention of selling any of it or helping someone else to sell any of it; or
  • Possesses the drug with the intention of selling any of it.

If you have done any of the above you may be charged with trafficking in a controlled drug. You do not have to prepare, transport, conceal, possess and sell the drug in order to be found guilty of a trafficking offence.

What Actions Might Constitute Trafficking in a Controlled Drug?

Examples of trafficking in a controlled drug include:

  • You weigh and divide ecstasy pills into zip-lock bags with the intention of giving them to someone else to sell.
  • You know your friend sells cocaine and you are at his house when he receives a request from a buyer. He asks you to conceal the cocaine in the back seat of the car and come with him to meet up with the buyer.
  • You hang around 200m from the entrance of a music festival hoping to sell ecstasy pills to festival goers as they arrive.

What the Police Must Prove

To convict you of trafficking in a controlled drug, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • That you trafficked in a substance; and
  • That substance was a controlled drug; and
  • That the quantity trafficked is equal to, or greater than, the quantity you are charged with trafficking.

Possible Defences for Trafficking in a Controlled Drug

The common ways to defend this charge are:

  • To maintain your innocence if you did not commit the act; or
  • To argue that you did not traffic in a substance; or
  • To argue that the substance was not a controlled drug; or
  • To argue that the quantity of the controlled drug is not sufficient to prove the offence with which you have been charged, for example you were charged with trafficking in a large commercial quantity of ice when you only trafficked in 5 kg of ice (where the large commercial quantity is 6 kg).

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

These matters are indictable matters and will be dealt with in the ACT Supreme Court.

If you require legal advice or representation in any 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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