Importing and Exporting Commercial Quantities Of Border Controlled Drugs Or Border Controlled Plants

– section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995
Importing and Exporting Commercial Quantities of Border Controlled Drugs or Border Controlled Plants
This offence is when you import or export a commercial quantity of a drug or plant.
Examples of Importing and Exporting Commercial Quantities of Border Controlled Drugs or Border Controlled Plants
  • A woman exports 1,000 Cannabis plants.
  • A man imports 10kgs of Cocaine.
What are some of the possible defences to a charge of Importing and Exporting Commercial Quantities of Border Controlled Drugs or Border Controlled Plants?
  • You did not import or export the drug.
  • There was no way you knew you were importing a controlled drug.

There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • Can they prove you imported or exported the drug?
  • Did someone force you to carry a drug?
  • Did you know what you were carrying?

 

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for life or a fine of 7,500 penalty units, or both.

This offence is heard in the County Court

“Did you know you had drugs in your luggage?”
What is the legal definition of Importing and Exporting Commercial Quantities of Border Controlled Drugs or Border Controlled Plants?

A person imported or exported a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug or plant.

Legislation

The section that covers this offence is section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

Elements of the offence

The elements of this charge are:

  1. The accused imported or exported a substance; and
  2. The substance is a border controlled drug or border controlled plant; and
  3. The quantity imported or exported is a commercial quantity.
What can you be sentenced to for this charge?

If you have been found guilty of this offence then you could get a lengthy prison sentence.

Sentencing in the higher courts

From July 2011 to June 2016, there were a total of 57 cases (67 charges) that were heard in the higher courts of Victoria for the offence of section 307.1(1) Import a Commercial Quantity of a Border Controlled Drug (Drug Not Defined). Most of these cases resulted in Imprisonment (77.6%) although Suspended Sentences were also imposed (Partially Suspended Sentences at 9% and Wholly Suspended Sentences at 9%) as well as Community Correction Order (3%), and Youth Justice Centre Order (1.5%).

Of the prison terms imposed, the highest was somewhere between 20 and 21 years, although this was among the least imposed prison terms at only 1.9% of those who were sentenced to imprisonment. The most commonly imposed term was between 7 and 8 years (26.9%).1

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in the higher courts earlier than that of the Magistrates’ Court, and therefore all offences committed on or after 1 September 2013 will not have this available as a sentencing option.2

Questions a Judge will ask a jury

A Judge presiding over a trial for this offence may ask the jury to consider:

  • If the substance is a border-controlled drug or plant;
  • How much of the substance is a border-controlled drug or plant;
  • If the accused was aware or reckless as to the presence of the substance;
  • If the quantity is a commercial quantity;
  • If there were any intervening acts, for instance a swap of suitcases if the accused was travelling by plane.
Other important resources

 



[1] Sentencing Advisory Council. “SACStat Higher Courts – Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth): s 307.1(1) – import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug (drug not defined).” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/higher_courts/HC_CRIMCODE_307_1_1.html (accessed April 15, 2019).
[2] Sentencing Advisory Council. “Abolished Sentencing Orders.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/abolished-sentencing-orders (accessed April 15, 2019).