Simple Cannabis Offence Notice
Usually if you are found to have committed an offence, the police will issue a Court Attendance Notice requiring you to attend court on a criminal charge. However, if you have committed a simple cannabis offence the police may exercise their discretion to issue a Simple Cannabis Offence Notice instead, commonly referred to as a ‘SCON’.
A Simple Cannabis Offence Notice (SCON) is a less serious alternative to a Court Attendance Notice. Police have discretion to issue you with a SCON instead of a Court Attendance Notice if you have committed a simple cannabis offence. The consequences of being issued with a Court Attendance Notice or a SCON are:
|Court Attendance Notice||Simple Cannabis Offence Notice|
|Do I have to attend court?||Yes||No|
|Is this a criminal charge?||Yes||No|
|Will this result in a criminal record?||Yes||No|
Essentially a SCON allows you to pay a prescribed penalty ($100) in full satisfaction of the matter. That means you do not have to attend court, will not be criminally charged, and will not have a criminal record. However, if you do not pay the penalty within 60 days of service then criminal proceedings may be commenced against you. If this happens you may end up with a criminal charge against you and, ultimately, a criminal record.
The SCON will specify the nature of the alleged offence, as well as the date, time and place the offence is alleged to have been committed. The SCON must be served on you if you are over 18 years, or on your parent or guardian if under 18 years. The government analyst may then destroy the cannabis seized from you.
What Is A Simple Cannabis Offence?
Section 171A of the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 classifies the following 3 offences as simple cannabis offences:
- cultivating one or two cannabis plants, excluding plants that are cultivated artificially (contrary to section 162 of the Act). If your matter proceeds to court you may be fined up to 1 penalty unit for committing this offence.
- possessing not more than 50g of cannabis (contrary to section 171(1) of the Act). If your matter proceeds to court you may be fined up to 1 penalty unit.
- administering cannabis to yourself (contrary to section 37(2) of the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008). If your matter proceeds to court you may be fined up to 100 penalty units and/or sentenced to 1 year imprisonment.
The above are the maximum penalties that apply if your matter proceeds to court. However, the police have discretion to issue you with a SCON as an alternative way of dealing with the offence.
Will I Get A Criminal Record?
In short, no. If you pay the penalty within 60 days after service of the SCON, no further action will be taken by police and the matter will be considered finalised. You will not be required to attend court, there will be no criminal charge laid against you, you will not be convicted of the offence, and you will not have a criminal record. Like with traffic infringements, there will be a record of the payment made but this does not count as an admission or a plea of guilty.
What Happens If I Do Not Pay the Penalty in Time?
If you do not pay the penalty within 60 days after service of the SCON you may be issued with a Court Attendance Notice. If this happens you will be charged with a criminal offence. You will have to attend court where you may be convicted and ultimately end up with a criminal record.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.