Drugs offences are treated particularly seriously by the courts, reflecting the reality that the abuse of controlled drugs is very dangerous and high on the government agenda. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drugs offence, whether a minor offence or serious drug dealing involving class A drugs, contact the specialist criminal defence lawyers at Qamar Solicitors urgently.
All the major recreational drugs, except alcohol and nicotine, are illegal and fall into three primary categories:
Class A drugs which include heroin, ecstasy and cocaine
Class B drugs include cannabis and amphetamines (including speed)
Class C drugs include some tranquilisers and anabolic steroids
The drugs team at Qamar Solicitors has a wealth of experience representing and defending clients facing drugs charges. Consulting experienced solicitors early in the investigation is vital because such cases frequently involve extensive technical evidence including surveillance, forensic examination of digital and telephone communications and tachographs. We meticulously go through all the evidence against our clients so that we can give you expert, robust advice on your defence.
Drugs cases can be complex. Here, we briefly explain the various controlled drugs-related activities that are illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971:
Possession of controlled drugs
It is an offence to have a controlled drug in your possession - unless you are authorised to do so by way of a licence, for example a medical prescription. In addition, individuals acting in their official or professional capacity who are required to be in possession of a controlled drug in the normal course of duty will not be guilty of an offence. This includes police officers, customs and excise offices, lab workers and Post Office workers.
The charge will succeed if it can be proven that the controlled substance was in the defendant’s possession, or under his or her control, and the defendant must have physical possession of it.
You will not be guilty of an offence if you did not know the substance was a controlled drug or if you did not know the substance actually existed (the defence of ‘mistake of fact’).
Possession with intent to supply
This offence requires possession of controlled drugs whether or not the individual has authority, with the intent to supply it to a third party who has no legal right or authority to possess it – whether or not for profit.
It is an offence for a person to have a controlled drug in his possession, whether lawfully or not, with the intent to supply it to another who has no legal right to possess it.
Supply is the simple act of passing a controlled drug from one person to another: it does not matter if it was for profit or not. The issue of financial gain is relevant when it comes to sentencing on conviction.
Supply of controlled drugs
An individual can be charged with a number offences of supplying controlled drugs:
Offer to supply
Being concerned in supply
Possession with intent to supply (see above)
This is dealt with particularly severely by the courts. An individual can be guilty of this offence either through the production of a controlled drug, or being concerned in the production of a controlled drug.
Production can be the manufacturing, cultivating or production by alternative methods. Cultivation of cannabis is a separate offence (see below), but the act of separating the individual parts of a cannabis plant with the purpose or disposing those parts not usable for producing the cannabis drug amounts to a separate offence of the production of controlled drugs.
Cultivating any part of a cannabis plant is illegal. This does not include the supply or possession of cannabis seeds. However, if an individual takes action which germinates or cultivates cannabis seeds, an offence is committed.
In some cases, the defendant can be charged with both production of controlled drugs and cultivation of cannabis.
It is illegal to import or export any controlled drug without lawful authority within the terms and conditions of a licence granted by the Secretary of State.
It is illegal for occupiers or managers to allow their premises to be used for certain drug related activities.
A ‘legal high’ that does not fall within Classes A-C can be designated a controlled substance using a Temporary Control Drug Order (TCDO). Once a drug is banned with the TCDO, the above offences can also apply to that substance (with the exception of simple possession).
Conviction for serious drugs offences can be followed by the commencement of confiscation proceedings against the defendant. We have specialist solicitors who can advise you if you are subject to confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
Prosecution and sentencing
Whether or not a drugs offence will be tried in the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court depends on the nature and seriousness of the offence, whether the substance involved was a Class A, B or C drug, the purposes of your involvement, and so on.
The sentence imposed will reflect the seriousness of the charge. We can advise you on how your case is likely to progress, and the range of sentence that the magistrates and or the Crown Court could impose on conviction.
How can we help?
We have years of experience in defending clients charged with drugs offence. It is important to understand there is a risk of a lengthy prison sentence because drugs related offences are treated with the utmost seriousness by the courts. Consult the best solicitors available for the most effective defence.
Where necessary, we aggressively defend our clients against unmerited charges. If you have been accused of a drugs offence, or know anyone that has, contact the criminal defence lawyers at Qamar Solicitors immediately for urgent specialist legal advice – whether at the police station or after.