Possessing Controlled Drugs is found in section 308.1 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995. It is committed by a person who was found to be in possession of a substance which is identified as a controlled drug.
Have you been accused of Possessing Controlled Drugs?
Have you been accused of Possessing Controlled Drugs?
Police InterviewBefore going to any interview or speaking with Police about an allegation of Possessing Controlled Drugs, you should speak to a lawyer to understand your rights and options. People mistakenly believe that if they tell the Police their side of the story that the matter will simply go away. That is not the case at all. A Police interview is not a chance for you to explain your side. The interview is part of the Police investigation.
Pleading Not GuiltyIf you want to fight a charge of Possessing Controlled Drugs, we can conduct our own investigation and carefully examine the Police brief of evidence. Our lawyers are dedicated defence lawyers and will look for flaws in the prosecution case against you.
Our lawyers are expert cross examiners and will meticulously pick apart the prosecution case through careful and deliberate cross examination.
Pleading GuiltyIf you want to plead guilty to Possessing Controlled Drugs, we can work with you to prepare for the best possible outcome. There is a lot of material that can be gathered for a plea hearing, including possible medical reports and character references. We work closely with you to understand your background so we can best present your story to the court in a plea hearing to secure a fair outcome.
SentencingSentencing in the higher courts of Victoria
Which court will the case be heard in?Although this is a Commonwealth offence, this charge may also be heard in a State court and the accused may be tried, punished or otherwise dealt with as if the offence were an offence against the law of the State or Territory that involved the possession or use of a controlled drug.1 This offence is ordinarily heard in Victorian higher courts.
Examples of Possessing Controlled Drugs
- A person possesses heroin.
- A person possesses cannabis or cannabis resin.
- A person possesses methylamphetamine.
What is the legal definition of Possessing Controlled Drugs?
- A person commits an offence if:
- the person possesses a substance; and
- the substance is a controlled drug, other than a determined controlled drug.
- The fault element for paragraph (1)(b) is recklessness.
LegislationThe relevant legislative provision for this offence is section 308.1 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) (the Act).
Elements of the offenceFor a person to be found guilty of this offence, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The accused is in possession of a substance;
- The substance is a controlled drug.
‘Possess’ a substance means2:
- Receiving or obtaining possession of the substance;
- Having control over the disposition of the substance (whether or not the substance is the custody of the person);
- Having joint possession of the substance.
A ‘controlled substance’ is a substance, other than a growing plant, that is3:
- Listed by a regulation as a controlled drug4; or
- A drug analogue of a listed controlled drug5; or
- Determined by the AFP Minister as a controlled drug under section 301.13 of the Act (which deals with emergency determinations of serious drugs).
“Was the substance a controlled drug?”
DefencesDefences to this charge are ordinarily based on some element of the offence not being made out. These defences include:
- The accused is not in possession of a substance;
- The substance is not a controlled drug.
Questions in cases like this
- Is the person in possession of a substance?
- Is the substance a controlled drug?
- Have the police tested the substance and established that the substance is a controlled drug, or are they merely alleging that the substance is a controlled drug without any testing having taken place?
Maximum penalty for section 308.1 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995The maximum penalty for (s308.1 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995) is 400 penalty units (a $84,000 fine) or imprisonment for 2 years, or both.10
The value of a penalty unit will automatically increase in line with the Consumer Price Index from July 2020, and every 3 years after.11
Other important resources
- SACStat Higher Courts – Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) : s 308.1(1) – possess a controlled drug
- VCC summaries – federal drug offences: Sentencing decisions from 1 January 2016 to 30 November 2017, arranged by severity of total effective sentence
 Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) s 308.1(3)
 Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) s 72.36
 Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 Cth) s 301.1
 See Criminal Code Regulations 2002 (Cth) Schedule 3 for a list of controlled drugs.
 See Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) s 301.9 for the definition of ‘drug analogue’.
 Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) s 308.1(2)
 Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) s 5.4
 Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) s 7.3
 Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) s 10.2
 Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) s 308.1
 Australian Government, ‘Commonwealth Penalty Units Increase’, accessed 17/11/2018 <https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Large-business/In-detail/Business-bulletins/Articles/Commonwealth-penalty-units-increase/>.