Queensland has extremely strict laws surrounding drug possession, so it is very important to be informed if you have been charged with a drug-related offence. Here is a guide to everything you need to know about drug possession charges QLD, from penalties, your rights and how criminal lawyers can help you.
What Does Drug Possession Include?
A common misconception about drug possession charges is that you can only be charged if you’re found to own illegal drugs. Unfortunately, drug possession charges apply to a much broader range of activities. You can be charged with drug possession for simply knowing about drugs in your household, even if you did not buy or use them.
Basically, if the prosecution can prove that you had both knowledge and control of the drug (control being the ability to access it), then you can be convicted of drug possession. You can also be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, which includes any materials used to take or produce illegal drugs. If you’re unsure about which charges you could be convicted for, consider seeking guidance from specialist Queensland drug lawyers.
Queensland Drug Legislation
The severity of a drug possession offense in Queensland is dependent on the type of drug involved. In Queensland, illegal drugs are divided into three categories. Schedule 1 Part 1 drugs carry the most severe penalties, and include drugs such as heroin, cocaine and amphetamine. Schedule 1 Part 2 drugs include all anabolic and androgenic steroidal agents. Schedule 2 drugs include but aren’t limited to cannabis, morphine and pethidine. A full list of illegal drugs and their corresponding categories can be found in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987.
Penalties for Drug Possession
Penalties for drug possession and other drug-related offences vary depending on the amount and category of drug involved. For example, possessing a schedule 1 drug in quantities that exceed those set out in schedule 4 of the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987 can result in a maximum penalty of 25 years. But if you possess drugs in other schedules and in lower quantities, you face penalties far less severe.
In some cases of minor drug offences, offenders are given the opportunity to receive professional help to quit using drugs through the Police Drug Diversion Program instead of attending court and receiving a criminal record. We have detailed more information about this program later in the article.
Police Searches for Drug Possession
A Queensland police officer has the right to:
- Stop and search you if they reasonably suspect you may have a dangerous drug in your possession (including a strip search as long as it is done by an officer of the same sex)
- Stop and search your vehicle if they reasonably suspect there is a dangerous drug in the vehicle
- Search your house or business (in some circumstances) if they reasonably suspect there is evidence that may otherwise be hidden or destroyed
- Use drug detection dogs in certain places
Police officers may also have the ability to search you in other situations without a warrant. You can read more about this via the Queensland Government’s legal assistance service Legal Aid.
What to Do if You’re Charged with Drug Possession
It is important to be aware that if you are being investigated for a drug-related offence you may be asked to provide your name and address. It is against the law not to answer. However, if you have been charged with a drug-related offence, you should seek legal advice from Queensland drug lawyers as soon as possible.
While you arrange legal assistance, you should ask police prosecutions for a copy of your Queensland Police Form 9 (otherwise known as QP9). This is a written summary of why the police decided to charge you. This will provide valuable information to your lawyer for them to help minimise your penalty.
Police Drug Diversion Program
The Police Drug Diversion Program is a legislated diversion program that enables police to offer eligible persons, apprehended for a minor drug offence, with an opportunity to attend and complete a Drug Diversion Assessment Program. This is a much more desirable alternative to going through the court process and incurring a criminal record.
In the case of this particular program, a minor drug offence includes the possession of no more than 50 grams of cannabis, or an item that is used for smoking cannabis. Here is a comprehensive brochure by the Queensland Police on the specifics of this program.
Do You Need Legal Advice?
If you have been charged with a drug possession offence in Brisbane or the surrounding areas, you should seek legal advice from the most experienced drug lawyers Brisbane can offer you. Doing so will greatly improve your chances of lessening the severity your penalty.
Guest Lawyers offer free initial consultations (including in prisons) to assist with a number of drug offence matters. Please get in touch with our lawyers either via Guest Lawyers’ email or by calling (07) 3211 3007. Our team of experienced Brisbane drug lawyers will be more than happy to assist you.