Drug offences in South Australia are essentially divided into different categories.
If you possess, smoke or administer to yourself a controlled drug which is not cannabis then you may receive a referral to an assessment panel and be diverted from the court system. If the process is not successful you can still be charged. If you possess, smoke or consume cannabis, or possess equipment then you may receive an expiation notice if it is for personal use. This only applies if you have less than 100 gms of cannabis (or 20 gms of resin - oil is not expiable). Further, the offence is not expiable if the offence occurs in a public place or place of entertainment. In other care you will be required to attend court and if found guilty you will have a criminal record for drug offences.
Trafficking of Controlled Drugs
You are likely to be charged with trafficking of controlled drugs if you possess them with the intention of selling them or taking part in that process. If you sell the drugs then the case is easier for the prosecution to prove. If you possess more than the prescribed amount then you are deemed to be in possession of a trafficable quantity and in such cases it is presumed, in the absence of proof to the contrary, that you had the intention and belief to sell them or possess them for sale. Penalities for trafficking controlled drugs are extremely severe and include a maximum penalty of 10 years in gaol or a fine of $50,000 even for small quantities. Penalties of life imprisonment are available in serious cases where there are commercial quantities or large commercial quantities.
Manufacture of Controlled Drugs or Precursors
An offence is committed if you manufacture a controlled drug with the intention to sell it or whilst believing another intends to sell it. If it is proven that you manufactured greater than a trafficable quantity then the court presumes you possessed the relevant belief or intent to constitute the offence and accordingly you need to prove otherwise. You also commit an offence if you manufacture precursors or sell them believing they will be made into a controlled drug. The seriousness of the offences are determined in part by the amount intended to be manufactured and commercial quantities and large commercial quantities attract significant penalties.
Sale and cultivation of controlled plants
You commit an offence if you sell a controlled plant or any of its product (cannabis, seeds or part of the plant) or have possession of a controlled plan for that purpose. If you have greater than a trafficable quantity then it is deemed you had it or its product for the purpose of sale unless you can prove otherwise. It is still an offence to cultivate any controlled plant . If you cultivate 1 cannabis plant (without artificial lights, heat, water or nutrients) then you may receive an expiation notice as long as it was for your personal use. Even if you manufacture one cannabis plant hydroponically you will have to go to court and risk a criminal record. If you cultivate a single controlled plant to supply (which includes to distribute or offer) to another, or have greater than 5 plants then you will have to go to court. If you have more than 10 plants you are deemed to have a trafficable quantity and will have to prove you did not cultivate or possess them for sale.
Further Drug Offences
Further offences exist for supplying controlled substances and manufacturing. There are numerous drug offences which vary in seriousness. Commonwealth offences address importation and customs offences. There are also offences which relate to prescription drugs.
Seizure of Assets
If you are convicted of a serious offence then all of your assets could potentially be forfeited even if you can show that you came by them honestly. A "serious offence" includes any indictable offences and a number of drug offences that can be heard in the summary courts.
If you have been charged with a drug offence it is vital that you immediately speak to lawyers who understand the law in this area. Contact us on 08 8523 8400 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"High time for change?" by Nick Coutts (25/09/2014)