Possession of dangerous drugs is a criminal offence under the Queensland Criminal Code Act 1899. This offence pertains to the unlawful possession of substances categorised as dangerous drugs, which are regulated by the Drugs Misuse Act 1986. The offence is taken seriously by the Queensland legal system as it aims to curb drug-related activities and promote public safety.
The offence of possession of dangerous drugs involves the unlawful possession of substances listed as dangerous drugs under the Drugs Misuse Act 1986. Dangerous drugs encompass a wide range of substances, including but not limited to illicit drugs, prescription medications, and precursor chemicals.
What are dangerous drugs?
Section 4 of the Criminal Code defines a ‘dangerous drug’ as a thing specified in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987 (Qld) usually found in schedule 1 or 2.
Schedule 1 contains the most serious substances and offences associated with these drugs attract the most significant penalties.
Schedule 1 drugs are:
- Lysergide [LSD]
- 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) [Ecstacy]
Schedule 2 drugs are:
- Gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)
- Psilocybin (mushrooms)
- Diazepam (Valium)
Please note there a lot more drugs listed, these are just the more common drugs found.
Definition of possession
Possession involves both actual physical possession (having the drug on your person) and constructive possession (exercising control over a location where the drug is found, even if not directly on your person).
What do the police have to prove?
For the prosecution to secure a conviction for possession of dangerous drugs, several elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Control or Custody: The prosecution must demonstrate that the accused had control or custody over the substance in question. This could involve physical possession (having the drug on their person) or constructive possession (exercising control over a location where the drug is found).
- Nature of Substance: The substance in the accused’s possession must be a dangerous drug as defined by the Drugs Misuse Act. This requires establishing that the substance falls within the legal definition of a dangerous drug.
- Knowledge: The prosecution must prove that the accused knew or was aware of the nature of the substance they possessed. This element is crucial to differentiate accidental possession from intentional possession.
- Intention to Possess: It must be established that the accused intended to possess the substance. Mere proximity to the substance might not be sufficient; there should be evidence of an intentional act indicating possession.
What are the penalties for possessing dangerous drugs?
The quantity and the type of the drug in possession can impact the severity of the penalty. Not only that but larger quantities might be considered as indicative of intent to supply or traffic drugs, leading to harsher penalties.
The maximum penalty for possession of a dangerous drug is 25 years imprisonment.
What are the defences to possessing dangerous drugs?
Several defences can be raised against a charge of possession of dangerous drugs in Queensland:
- Lack of Knowledge: If the accused can demonstrate that they were unaware of the nature of the substance or did not know it was in their possession, this can serve as a defence. For instance, if someone borrowed a bag from a friend without knowing it contained drugs.
- Lawful Authority or Prescription: If the accused had a valid prescription for a drug or possessed it within the boundaries of a lawful authority (such as a medical practitioner or a pharmacist), this can be a valid defence.
- Lack of Control or Custody: If the accused can show that they did not have control or custody over the substance, they might not meet the requirements for possession.
- Duress: In some cases, individuals may possess drugs under duress (coerced by threat or force).
- Unlawful Search and Seizure: If the evidence was obtained through an unlawful search and seizure by law enforcement, it might be deemed inadmissible in court, potentially leading to the case being dismissed.