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...

Avoiding a Criminal Record For Drug Offences


Drug offences in New South Wales are governed by the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act while sentences are imposed under the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act. This page answers some questions that are frequently asked about drug offences including whether avoiding a criminal record is possible. This article is not a substitute for legal advice and if you have been charged with drug offences you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

Will I get a Criminal Record for a Drug Possession Matter?

A criminal conviction is very likely unless the court is convinced that it should exercise its discretion not to convict you of the offence.

Avoiding a Criminal Record

Although it is possible to avoid a criminal record for a charge of possessing a prohibited drug, the starting point for the court is always a conviction. Arguments in favour of not imposing a conviction are that the defendant is very young and it is their first offence or that a conviction will impact their current or future employment opportunities.

What is a Section 10?

The expression ‘section 10’ refers to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. This section allows a court that finds a person guilty of an offence, to discharge them without recording a conviction. When this occurs, there is no conviction and no criminal record.

How can I Obtain a Section 10?

Courts do not give out section 10s lightly. A court will usually need a lot of convincing before granting a person a section 10. In deciding whether to give a person a section 10, the court must consider the following issues:

  • Their age, character, record, health and mental condition
  • The trivial nature of the offence
  • Any extenuating circumstances
  • Anything else the court perceives to be relevant

Can I pay a Greater Fine to Avoid a Criminal Record?

No. It is not possible to pay a larger fine to avoid a criminal conviction. If the court deals with you under section 10 there will be no fine, but there may be court costs (normally less than $80)

What are my Chances of Obtaining a Section 10?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to your likelihood to be dealt with under section 10. To learn more about your chances of obtaining a section 10, call one of our criminal law experts on (02) 9261 4555.

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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