Under section 71D of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981, it is illegal to possess a precursor chemical that could be used to make a drug of dependence, unless you have a lawful excuse for doing so. It is important to seek legal advice if you are charged with this offence.
Police InterviewDrug offences are taken seriously by police and they will likely interview you if you are charged with this offence. You should go into a police interview prepared and with a good knowledge of your rights. We can assist you with your police interview, talk you through the process and any questions you might have.
Pleading Not GuiltyIf you want to plead not guilty to this charge you should engage a lawyer who can go through the evidence with you and identify any weaknesses in the prosecution case. We deal with serious drug charges regularly and can assist you if you are charged with this offence. We can also help you work out if you can establish any defences such as whether you have a legitimate reason for having the precursor chemical.
Pleading GuiltyWhere there is strong evidence against you, you may decide to plead guilty to this charge. It is important that a lawyer assists you with a plea. We look at all your material when we put together a plea submission including obtaining character references, any medical reports and importantly, telling the court your story, which all assist in helping you achieve a fair sentence.
SentencingSentencing in the higher courts of VictoriaSentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria
Which court will the case be heard in?This offence is dealt with in the Magistrates’ and County Courts.
Examples of Possession of Precursor Chemicals
- A person having precursor chemicals in their garage
- A person storing precursor chemicals in an unused toilet block
- A person found with precursor chemicals in the boot of their car
What is the legal definition of Possession of Precursor Chemicals?Possession
The Prosecution must demonstrate that the accused intentionally had the chemical in his/her custody, or under his or her control.1
LegislationThis offence can be found on s 71D of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (the Act).
Elements of the OffenceTo prove this offence the Prosecution must show that (1) the accused possessed a prescribed quantity of a chemical without lawful excuse and (2) that chemical was a prescribed precursor chemical.
“Can the Prosecution prove that the chemicals were used to manufacture illicit drugs?”
DefencesDefences to this charge can be:
- The substance that the Police have seized was not a prescribed precursor chemical;
- Factual disputes about where and when materials were seized;
- Disputes as to intention to possess.
Questions in cases like this
- Was there another reason for storing the chemical?
- Is there any evidence that the chemicals were used to produce an illicit drug?
- Can the Prosecution prove ‘possession’?
Maximum penalty for section 71D of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981The maximum penalty for Possession of Precursor Chemicals (s71D of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981) is a fine of 600 penalty units (around $100,000) or 5 years imprisonment.
Other important resources
- SACStat Higher Courts – Drugs, Poisons And Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic): s 71D – possess a precursor chemical
- VCC summaries – possession of precursor chemical: Sentencing decisions from 1 January 2016 to 31 May 2018, arranged by severity of total effective sentence
Case studies related to the charge of Possession of precursor chemicals:
 He Kaw Teh v R (1985) 157 CLR 523; R v Maio  VR 281.