Drug Possession and Trafficking Charges – Deferral of Sentence

This is a case study on drug possession and trafficking charges resulting in a deferral of sentence.

Our client was found unconscious inside his car in a suburban street. Local residents saw him slumped over in the car and called the police. The police could not wake him by banging on the window or sounding the horn of their vehicle. In the end, they roused him by activating emergency sirens.

What is alleged to have occured?
Initially, the client refused to get out of the car and told the police that they could not search the vehicle. But the police told the client that they had the power to search the vehicle and would do so. When they searched inside, they found that the car was full of drugs. Various quantities of drugs were found in different packaging throughout the car.

The client was 21 years old and had never been in trouble before. He was charged with 14 different drug possession and drug trafficking charges. The client was concerned about what sentence he would receive and whether or not a conviction would be recorded.

What happened at court?
We represented the client at the Ringwood Magistrates’ Court. In advance of the court hearing, we contacted prosecutors and conducted negotiations over the charges. We persuaded prosecutors to accept that a large portion of the drugs were for personal use and not for trafficking. In the end, our client was required to plead guilty to four charges – one trafficking charge and three charges of possession. All other charges were withdrawn.

A plea in mitigation was presented to the court and we emphasised the factors that should be taken into account in sentencing the client. His young age was of central importance. We informed the court how the client came to have problems with drug use from a young age, but that things spiralled out of control after a break-up and a break in his university studies.

Through tendering character references, reports, and clean urine screens, we demonstrated to the court that the client had immediately taken steps to rehabilitate himself after being caught by the police. He started drug and alcohol counselling, sessions with a psychologist, and returned to university. He remained abstinent from drugs and proved that to the court.

What was the result?
The presiding magistrate was impressed with the progress shown but concluded that our client’s rehabilitation was at an early stage. The magistrate deferred the sentence for a period of five months and indicated that if our client continued to provide clean urine screens and progress positively, then he would not receive a prison sentence for the drug possession and trafficking charges, but would instead be sentenced to some other penalty without conviction.

This matter showed the importance of thorough preparation and early contact with the prosecution in order to negotiate the best outcome. Gathering materials like character references, urine screens, and reports from treating psychologists is essential to prove to the court that positive progress is being made. A plea supported by documents is much stronger than when submissions are simply made from the bar table.

Elements of Drug Possession:

  • The substance in question was a drug of dependence.
  • The accused possessed the substance.

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DISCLAIMER: This is a real case study of an actual case from our files. Details pertaining to the client have been changed to protect their privacy. The sentence imposed and the charge have not been altered. These case studies are published to demonstrate real outcomes and give an indication of possible tariffs in Court. We do not guarantee a similar case on these charges will get the same result. Please note that we post results at our discretion, therefore while many case studies are average results, others are notable for their exceptional outcomes. PUBLISHED 13/08/2019