November 25, 2014

Drug Offence Charges – FAQ’s

Facing a drug offence charge can be a stressful time. If you are facing charges or have been arrested for a drug offence contact the drug defence solicitors at  Qamar Solicitors LLP straight away and talk to one of our expert lawyers who can give you impartial, professional advice.

Here is some basic information answering frequently asked questions about drug offence charges.

What is the law relating to drug offences?

The main piece of legislation we are concerned with is The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which is the UK’s drug policy exclusive of alcohol and tobacco.

What is the current classification of illegal substances?

  • Class A drugs include: cocaine; crack cocaine; MDMA; heroin; LSD; crystal meth; magic mushrooms.
  • Class B drugs include: cannabis; Amphetamines; ketamine; ritalin; mephedrone.
  • Class C drugs include: anabolic steroids; GHB; GBL; khat; benzodizepines.

Possession Offences

Under The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 you can be charged with possession of a controlled substance(s); this is the most common offences that we deal with. Furthermore, you could be charged with ‘possession with intent to supply’ if the police think the small amount you have been caught with is going to be shared with others.

If the police have ‘reasonable suspicion’ to believe you are in possession of a controlled drug they have the powers to stop, detain and search you. When caught in possession of drugs your penalty will depend on the class and quantity of the drug, where you were found with the drug and your previous history of criminal convictions.

Importantly, your case will be dependant on aggregating and mitigating factors and this is where our team of specialist criminal defence lawyers can give you an expert defence and get you the best result possible.

All possession offences carry the potential of an unlimited fine. Possession of a class C drug carries a maximum prison sentence of up to two years, class B five years and Class A up to seven years imprisonment.

Supplying Offences

These are deemed more serious offences and subsequently usually carry more severe punishments. You can be charged with supplying or offering to supply a controlled drug. The amount of drugs you are caught with is the predominant factor in deciding whether the police deem you to be intending to supply drugs.

It is also deemed supplying if you are caught with large amounts of drugs that you are intending to share rather than sell. It is a supplying offence to allow premises which you own or manage to be used for the purpose of producing or supplying drugs, and doing this holds serious consequences.

Supply and production offences carry an unlimited fine. Supplying, producing or intending to supply or produce class C or class B controlled substances can mean a sentence of up to 14 years in prison; for a class A illegal substance it could mean life imprisonment.

Producing drugs; so being involved in manufacturing or cultivating drugs, carries the same penalties as supplying drugs, and is likely to require a Crown Court case.

What is the difference between if you are a user and if you are a dealer?

When the courts are adjudicating they make a concerted effort to make a clear distinction between users and dealers. Courts are more likely to be lenient if you can prove you are a user rather than a dealer. Drug dealing is taken as a more serious offence and could carry a life imprisonment sentence.

What about drug trafficking and importing drugs?

The cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances is all viewed as part of the drug dealing process and are all usually met with severe sentencing.

Drug trafficking is met with serious punishment; you could face a sentence of life imprisonment for trafficking class A substances depending on the amount and which drugs you are trafficking. Importing drugs carries the same respective punishments, and is also sentenced very strictly.

Which court will I have to go to for a drugs offence?

More serious drug offences are dealt with in a Crown Court, where they can impose any fine and a sentence as high as life imprisonment.

Less serious drug offences are dealt with in a Magistrates Court, where the maximum fine is £5000 and the maximum sentence is six months.

What are the punishments for offences involving Cannabis?

One of the most commonly used drugs in the UK is cannabis. Cannabis was changed from a class C drug to a class B drug in 2008, this means that it carries the same sentencing as any other class B substance.

If you are found in possession of cannabis the police can issue a warning or a £90 fine, this can however go as high as 5 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine dependent on previous convictions.

It is an offence for anyone to grow any kind of cannabis plant unless they have a licence for industrial production. The maximum punishment for growing cannabis is up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

Will I be tested for drug taking if I have been arrested for a drug charge offence?

You may be tested for class A drugs if you are arrested and taken to a police station, and it is an offence to refuse to provide a sample without good cause.

Trigger offences such as street robbery, car theft or supplying drugs may also prompt the police to carry out a drugs test.

If you test positive for class A drugs you will have to see a drug specialist who will examine the extent of your problem. Even if you are not charged you may still have to have treatment and drug counselling.

What should I do if I have been arrested or if I am facing charges for a drug offence?

If you have been arrested or are facing charges for any drug offence charges (possession, supplying, producing, importing, drug trafficking, growing cannabis) you must contact Qamar Solicitors LLP straight away and get a criminal defence lawyer who can help you through the often complicated legal process.