This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (state and federal industrial tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Offences Involving Ice


In the ACT, it is an offence to possess, manufacture, sell, supply, traffic or administer ice. This section covers each of these offences and their maximum penalties, which range from fines of 50 penalty units to life imprisonment, depending on the offence.

Ice itself is a street name for methylamphetamine, or methamphetamine. Ice is commonly referred to as meth, crystal, crystal meth, Christina, Tina, speed, crank, uppers, go, goey, go fast, geek, glass, poor man’s coke, chalk, shabu, ox blood, base, and whiz.

Administering Ice

In the ACT, it is an offence to administer ice to another person, yourself or an animal without being authorised to do so. The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of 100 penalty units and/or 1 year imprisonment.

The Offence of Administering Ice

The offence of administering ice is contained in Section 37 of the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008. It prohibits the administration of a declared substance to yourself, another person or an animal unless you are authorised to do so. Conviction for this offence can result in a fine of up to 100 penalty units, 1 year imprisonment or both.

Ice is classified by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as a “medicine”, being a declared substance under Schedule 8 of the Federal Poisons Standard. Substances classified as “medicines” are considered declared substances as they require additional restrictions to reduce misuse or dependence.

What the Prosecution Must Prove

The prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • that the substance in question is ice; and
  • that you administered the ice to either:
    • another person; or
    • yourself; or
    • an animal; and
  • that you were not authorised to do so.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

This matter is a summary matter and will be dealt with in the ACT Magistrates Court.

Possessing Ice

In the ACT it is an offence to be in possession of ice. The maximum penalty is a fine of 50 penalty units and/or 2 years imprisonment.

The Offence of Possessing Ice

The offence of possessing ice is contained in Section 169 of the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 which states that a person shall not possess a drug of dependence. Ice is defined as a drug of dependence under section 4 of the Drugs of Dependence Regulation 2009.

The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of 50 penalty units, imprisonment for 2 years or both.

What is Possession?

The prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  • the substance was in your custody or control; and
  • you knew that you had custody or control of the substance; and
  • that substance was ice.

All of these things need to be proved beyond reasonable doubt in order for you to be found guilty of possessing ice.

In order to have custody you must have immediate physical possession of the ice. For example, you have ice in your pocket.

In order to have control you must have a right to do something with the ice. For example, you are at a party and you take the ice out of your pocket, place it on the table and walk out onto the balcony to join your friends. At this point you have lost custody of the ice but you still have control as you have the right to keep, consume or share the ice.

In each of these circumstances you must also have knowledge that you had custody or control of the ice. For example, if a friend placed the ice in your bag without you realising, you may have custody of it but you do not have the requisite knowledge to be guilty of the offence.

What Actions Might Constitute Possession?

Because of the broad interpretation of “possession”, you can possess something even if you only hold it momentarily. For example, if you have been given a bag of ice to mind for a friend while he goes to the shops and the police arrive, you are in possession of the ice even if it has only just been given to you.

Examples of what would NOT constitute possession:

  • You own an apartment that is rented out. The tenants have been found to have ice at the apartment but you were unaware until you were contacted by police. This is not possession because although you own the apartment, you do not own all of the things in it and do not have any right to use and/or sell the contents.
  • You live in a share house with 3 other housemates. Police find ice in the living room which is a shared space that all 4 of you use regularly. Unless someone makes a statement to police admitting that the ice is theirs, or implicating someone else, it is likely that no one will be charged because police cannot determine which one of you had custody or control of the ice.
  • You host a party at your house and you know some guests had left a bag of ice on your outdoor table. You called them the next day and asked them to collect it but before they get to your house, the police arrive. You tell police that you were waiting for someone to collect it. In this case you have knowledge that the ice is there, however you have not laid claim to it and have not done anything to exercise control over it.

What the Police Must Prove

To convict you of possessing ice, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • that you had possession of the substance; and
  • that substance was ice.

However, if you possessed ice for the purpose of selling or supplying it to someone else, you will likely be charged with Sale or Supply of Ice.

Possible Defences for Possessing Ice

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 have possession of the substance; for example, that you had custody but did not know you had custody of it, as in the example above of the ice placed in your bag without your knowledge; or
  • to argue that the substance was not ice.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

This is a summary matter and will be dealt with in the ACT Magistrates Court.

Selling Or Supplying Ice

It is an offence in the ACT to sell or supply ice. The maximum penalty is a fine of 500 penalty units and/or 5 years imprisonment.

The Offences of Selling Or Supplying Ice

The offence of sale or supply of ice is contained in Section 164 of the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 which states that a person commits an offence if they:

  • sell or supply a drug of dependence to any person; or
  • participate in the sale or supply of a drug of dependence to any person; or
  • possess a drug of dependence for the purpose of sale or supply to any person.

Ice is defined as a drug of dependence under section 4 of the Drugs of Dependence Regulation 2009.

This offence carries a maximum penalty of a fine of 500 penalty units, imprisonment for 5 years or both.

What is Sale or Supply?

The ordinary meaning of the word “sell” is extended in the dictionary contained in the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 to include:

  • offer or expose for sale.

The ordinary meaning of the word “supply” is extended in the dictionary contained in the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 to include:

  • offer to supply but does not include administer.

What Actions Might Constitute Selling or Supplying?

Examples of selling or supplying ice include:

  • You meet up with your supplier to buy some ice for you and your boyfriend. You give some to him when you get home and you get high together.
  • You are walking home from your dealer’s apartment and your friend’s cousin approaches you, asks if you have ice and offers to pay you cash next time he sees you. You tell him you need the money tomorrow but agree, and you give him some ice.
  • Your friend has a lab at his house where he manufactures ice. You sell it to associates and split the cash with your friend.

What the Prosecution Must Prove

To convict you of selling or supplying ice, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • that you sold or supplied a substance; and
  • that substance was ice.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

These matters may be dealt with in either the ACT Magistrates Court or the ACT Supreme Court, depending what the prosecution and/or you elect to do.

Trafficking in Ice

It is an offence in the ACT to traffic ice. The maximum penalty ranges from fines of 1000 penalty units to imprisonment for life, depending on the quantity of ice.

The Offence of Trafficking in Ice

Trafficking of ice is divided into offences based on the quantity of ice 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 ice (contrary to Section 603(7) of the Code).
  • traffic in a commercial quantity of ice (contrary to Section 603(3) of the Code).
  • traffic in a large commercial quantity of ice (contrary to Section 603(1) of the Code).

The penalties for this offence range from a fine of 1000 penalty units to life imprisonment, depending on the quantity of ice trafficked. The specific penalties are set out below.

Quantity of Ice Maximum Penalty
Less than a commercial quantity (less than 3kg) 1000 penalty units and/or 10 years imprisonment
Commercial quantity (3kg or more) 2500 penalty units and/or 25 years imprisonment
Large commercial quantity (6kg or more) Life imprisonment

These quantities are set out in Schedule 1 of the Criminal Code Regulation 2005.

What Is Trafficking?

To understand why you may be charged with this offence, it is important to acknowledge the broad definition given to the act of trafficking. The term “traffic” is defined in Section 602 of the Code 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 ice. You do not have to prepare, transport, conceal, possess and sell ice in order to be found guilty of this offence.

What Actions Might Constitute Trafficking Ice?

Examples of trafficking ice include:

  • You weigh and divide ice into zip-lock bags with the intention of giving them to someone else to sell.
  • You know your friend sells ice and you are at his house when he receives a request from a buyer. He asks you to conceal the ice in the back seat of the car and come with him to meet up with the buyer.
  • You have a supply of ice at your apartment. You intend to sell it to some associates who you have spoken to about it.

What the Police Must Prove

To convict you of trafficking ice, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • that you trafficked in a substance; and
  • that substance was ice; and
  • that the quantity of ice trafficked was equal to, or greater than, the quantity you are charged with trafficking.

Possible Defences for Trafficking Ice

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 ice; or
  • to argue that the quantity of ice 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 5kg of ice (where the large commercial quantity is 6kg).

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

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

Manufacturing Ice

In the ACT it is an offence to manufacture ice. Conviction for this offence can result in a fine of up to 1000 penalty units and/or 10 years imprisonment.

The Offence of Manufacturing Ice

The offence of manufacturing ice is contained in Section 609 of the Code which states that a person commits an offence if they manufacture a controlled drug (which includes ice). The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of 1000 penalty units, imprisonment for 10 years or both.

What is Manufacturing?

To understand why you may be charged with this offence, it is important to acknowledge the broad definition given to the act of manufacturing. The terms “manufacture” and “manufactures” are defined in Section 606 of the Code which states that:

A person “manufactures” a substance if the person:

  • engages in its manufacture; or
  • exercises control or direction over its manufacture; or
  • provides or arranges finance for its manufacture.

The “manufacture” of a substance is any process by which the substance is produced (other than the cultivation of a plant), and includes the process of:

  • extracting or refining it; or
  • transforming it into a different substance.

If you have been involved in any of the above you may be charged with manufacturing ice. It is not necessary for you to have been involved in the manufacture from start to finish, or to have been solely responsible for the manufacture in order to be found guilty.

What Actions Might Constitute Manufacturing Ice?

Examples of manufacturing ice include:

  • You give someone money to purchase large quantities of pseudoephedrine.
  • You direct two associates to set up a meth lab in the trailer at the back of the property you are renting.
  • You have been watching your boyfriend manufacturing ice and on the last day, you add battery acid and drain cleaner to create the final product.

What the Police Must Prove

To convict you of manufacturing ice, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • that you manufactured a substance; and
  • that substance was ice.

However, if you:

  • intended to sell any of it; or
  • believed that someone else intended to sell any of it; or
  • you manufactured a trafficable quantity (6g or more) of ice

then you will likely be charged with Manufacturing Ice for Selling.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

This is an indictable matter and will be dealt with in the ACT Supreme Court.

Manufacturing Ice for Selling

In the ACT it is an offence to manufacture ice for selling. This includes manufacturing ice with the belief that someone else intends to sell it. You can be convicted of this offence even if you have only manufactured a small amount. The penalties for this offence range from a fine of 1500 penalty units and/or 15 years imprisonment for manufacturing even a small quantity of ice for selling, to life imprisonment for manufacturing a large commercial quantity of ice for selling.

The Offence of Manufacturing Ice for Selling

The offence of manufacturing ice for selling is contained in Section 607 of the Code which states that a person commits an offence if they manufacture ice:

  • with the intention of selling any of it; or
  • believing that someone else intends to sell any of it.

The penalty for this offence depends on the quantity manufactured and is detailed below.

Quantity of Ice Maximum Penalty
Less than a commercial quantity (less than 3kg) 1,500 penalty units and/or 15 years imprisonment
Commercial quantity (3kg or more) 2,500 penalty units and/or 25 years imprisonment
Large commercial quantity (6kg or more) Life imprisonment

These quantities are set out in Schedule 1 of the Criminal Code Regulation 2005.

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.

WHY CHOOSE ARMSTRONG LEGAL?

Armstrong Legal
Social Rating
4.5
Based on 297 reviews
×
Legal Hotline.
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 Days
Call 1300 038 223