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Drug Offences

The law regarding drugs is intended to control the use and distribution of harmful and dangerous drugs and includes criminal offenses for possession, supply, and importation. If you, or someone close to you, has been charged with a drug offense you will want to know what the implications are for you and how you can best defend yourself.

Facing criminal charges and dealing with the police can be quite daunting. To give yourself the best chance, it is important to contact a solicitor as soon as possible to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, prepare for your case. Remember, whether you are detained, arrested, or charged, your most important rights are the right to legal assistance and the right to remain silent until you have a solicitor present.

How are drugs classified?

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 classifies drugs, or illegal substances, whether natural or man-made, into classes on a sliding scale, according to their relative degree of overall harm from misuse. Class A drugs are considered to be the most dangerous and include:

  • Crack cocaine
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy
  • Magic mushrooms
  • Crystal meth
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl
  • Carfentanil

Examples of Class B drugs include:

  • Spice
  • Amphetamines
  • Cannabis
  • Codeine
  • Ketamine
  • Barbiturates
  • Ritalin

What are the likely sentences?

New sentencing guidelines came into force in April 2021 with judges being obliged to follow these guidelines when deciding an appropriate sentence for a drug offence. The likely sentence depends on the offence you have been charged with. The circumstance of each case will be taken into account and certain factors can help or hinder your case, which is why it is important to get good legal help to prepare your defence.

The most serious offence to be charged with is conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. However, supplying lesser drugs or a small amount of a class A drug to a friend for personal use will result in much less severe penalties. The penalty for possession of Class B drugs is up to five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

What are aggravating factors?

The judge can decide to hand down a longer sentence because of aggravating factors. Aggravating factors are facts that will work against you in a court case. Examples might include using the home of a vulnerable person to grow or produce illegal substances, supplying young people under the age of 18 with drugs, or being the ringleader of a whole drug network.

What do “conspiracy” and “supply” mean in law?

Conspiracy to supply drugs is when two or more people agree to supply an illegal substance. Conspiring to supply drugs is a crime and you may be found guilty if a plan between a number of people to supply drugs exists, even if the plan does not ultimately transpire. To be found guilty of the conspiracy to supply drugs, the prosecution must prove that you were aware that drugs were being supplied and that you acted on that knowledge.

It should be noted that in law, supply does not make a distinction between whether the drug was given or sold, so for example, giving your friend some cannabis at a party or selling cannabis on the street will both be treated as supplying drugs.

Our law firm has been helping clients face the criminal justice system for more than 25 years and can provide specialist drug representation. We will ensure you are aware of your rights and help you navigate court processes and provide strong advocacy before, during and after your appearance.

If you need help, contact [email protected] or call 0151 239 1020 for expert legal advice.