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If you are being prosecuted for a drug offence related to the supply of drugs, it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice from a solicitor experienced in this area of law as soon as possible. This way, your specialist solicitor can work with you to ensure the best possible outcome in your circumstances.
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 contains the main offences relating to the misuse of controlled drugs.
Section 4 of the Act covers drug supply offences. This includes not only suppling a controlled drug, but also offering to supply and being concerned in the supply or an offer to supply of a controlled drug.
Other drug supply-related offences include possession with intent to supply and aggravated supply which has surrounding circumstances.
In the UK, the drug offence of supply surrounds the intention of passing a controlled drug to another person. Even sharing drugs, such as a joint of cannabis, between a group of friends can still result in you committing the drug offence of the supply of a controlled substance. Drug supply includes the act of distribution of the drug and there is no requirement for proof of payment or reward.
This means that if someone buys drugs and then shares them between their friends, this could still be seen as social supply and if found guilty of this offence, there can be severe consequences.
The intention to supply a controlled substance may be proven by various types of evidence including surveillance evidence, admissions from those involved and inference.
Evidence which could infer an intent to supply drugs will normally include a number of different factors (sometimes only one is required), such as:
Factors including the classification of the drugs (more on this below) and the intention of the person involved, will effect which court deals with a drug offence and supply case.
Cases involving drug offences can be heard in either the Crown Court or the Magistrates’ Court. The Magistrates’ Court will decide, based on the seriousness of the case, whether or not it should be heard in the Crown Court.
There are three main classifications of drugs in the UK.
Class A drugs include heroin, magic mushrooms, LSD, crystal meth and cocaine.
These include cannabis, codeine, barbiturates, synthetic cannabinoids and amphetamines.
Class C drugs include benzodiazepines (diazepam), anabolic steroids, gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and khat.
This depends on the class of drugs that you have been found guilty of supplying.
If you are convicted of supplying a Class A drug, you could face life imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
For the supply of Class B drugs, the maximum sentence is 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine. The supply of Class C drugs is the same.
The sentence you receive will also be affected by various other factors, including the quantity of drugs involved and whether the supply of the drugs is part of a larger operation.
In the case of a larger operation, the court will look at your role within that operation (whether you were a leader, for example) in order to decide on a suitable sentence.
Being found guilty of a drug offence can seriously affect your future. For example, you may not be able to visit some countries and you may find yourself unable to continue with your career.
There are a number of different criminal offences which fall under the Misuse of Drugs Act including:
While drug trafficking is viewed as a more serious drug-related offence than drug supply, the supply of drugs is still a serious criminal offence and those who are convicted can be given lengthy prison sentences.
The aggravating factors, which can result in a more severe punishment if you are convicted, include the class and quantity of the drug involved, previous convictions and exposing others to more than usual danger (drugs cut with harmful substances, for example).
The presence of a weapon (if not charged separately) and attempts to conceal or dispose of evidence (again, if not charged separately) can also be viewed as aggravating factors.
In addition, if you were found near a school or youth facility with the controlled drugs, this will be viewed as an aggravating factor which could attract a higher penalty.
Factors which can reduce the seriousness of the punishment include supplying a drug to which you are addicted, no previous convictions, mistaken belief surrounding the type of drug (the reasonableness of this belief will be taken into account) and remorse.
As this is an extremely complex area of law, it is vital that if you are accused of any drug offence, including supplying controlled drugs, you seek legal advice from a legal professional experienced in this area of law as early on as possible in your case. Your solicitor can then work with you to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome.
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