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Selling cocaine is a serious offence,even possession for personal use

Offences involving the sale and possession of cocaine continue to result in a significant number of arrests across Australia. This article examines the following cocaine offences in some of the different jurisdictions that enforce them:

  • Trafficking usually means selling or possessing with the intent to sell.
  • Supplying means transferring possession to another person. Cocaine can be supplied without being sold.
  • Possession means having control of the drug.
  • Use means the offender is caught in the act of using the drug.

Not every state or territory makes a distinction between trafficking and supplying or between possession and use. If you need advice about the law governing cocaine offences in your state, you should contact a criminal defence lawyer.

FEDERAL

Cocaine offences are rarely charged as a federal crime unless they involve illegal imports or a scheme to transport the drug across state lines. Trafficking of small amounts is left to state and territorial law enforcement.

Federal law defines trafficking as selling the drug, transporting it for sale, or possessing it for sale. The crime is punishable by a maximum sentence of life or of 25 years, depending on the quantity involved.

Possession of cocaine for personal use is not a federal crime.

ACT

In the ACT, cocaine is classified as a “drug of dependence.”

The penalty for trafficking cocaine depends on the amount of the drug involved in the crime. The maximum penalties are:

  • Large commercial quantity (2 kilograms) - life
  • Commercial quantity (1 kilogram) - 25 years
  • Lesser quantities - 10 years

Possession of cocaine with the intent to sell it is treated as trafficking. Possession of a trafficable quantity (2 grams or more) creates a presumption of an intent to sell. The crime will be punished as trafficking unless the defendant convinces the court that the cocaine was not intended for sale.

Supplying cocaine carries a maximum sentence of 5 years.

Possessing cocaine for personal use carries a maximum sentence of 2 years.

VIC

In Victoria, cocaine is classified as a “drug of dependence.”

The penalty for trafficking cocaine depends on the amount of the drug involved in the crime. The maximum penalties are:

  • Large commercial quantity (1 kilogram) - life
  • Commercial quantity (500 grams) - 25 years
  •  Lesser quantity - 15 years

Possession of a trafficable quantity (3 grams or more) creates a presumption of trafficking. Unless the accused overcomes that presumption, the maximum sentence is 15 years.

Possession of a less than 3 grams with the intent to sell it is punishable by a maximum sentence of 5 years.

Use or possession for personal use of cocaine is punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year. However, possession of a small quantity (not more than 0.75 grams) by a first offender creates a presumption that the offender should receive a good behaviour bond rather than a sentence.

NSW

In New South Wales, cocaine is classified as a “prohibited drug.”

Supplying cocaine to another person is an offence whether or not the drug is sold. The penalty depends on the amount of the drug involved in the crime. The maximum penalties are:

  • Large commercial quantity (1 kilogram) - life
  • Commercial quantity (250 grams) - 20 years
  • Lesser quantities - 15 years

Possession of a trafficable quantity (3 grams or more) creates a presumption of trafficking. Unless the accused overcomes that presumption, the maximum sentence is 15 years.

Possession that does not involve trafficking is punishable by a maximum sentence of 2 years.

QLD

Cocaine is classified as a Schedule 1 “dangerous drug” in Queensland.

The maximum sentence for trafficking cocaine is 25 years.

The maximum sentence for supplying cocaine is 20 years. A longer maximum applies if the recipient of the drug is a minor, a prison inmate, or falls within certain other categories.

The maximum sentence for possessing cocaine is:

  • 200 grams for more - 25 years
  • 2 grams or more - 20 years if the accused is drug dependent, otherwise 25 years
  • Less than 2 grams - 15 years

SA

Cocaine is classified as a “drug of dependence” in South Australia

The penalty for trafficking cocaine (including possession with the intent to traffic) depends on the amount of the drug involved in the crime. The maximum penalties are:

  • Large commercial quantity (1 kilogram) - life
  • Commercial quantity (200 grams) - 25 years
  • Lesser quantity - 10 years

Those maximums increase if the crime involves children or if the drug is sold in certain areas, including school zones.

Possession of a trafficable quantity (2 grams or more) creates a presumption of trafficking. Unless the accused overcomes that presumption, the maximum sentence is 10 years.

South Australia defines the crime of supplying as providing, offering to provide, or administering a drug to another person, or possessing the drug with the intent to do one of those things. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison.

South Australia defines the crime of possession as including use of the drug. The possession of cocaine (with no intent to sell or supply it) carries a maximum sentence of 2 years

A simple possession offense typically results in a referral for a drug assessment. The assessment can result in an offer to the offender to participate in drug treatment. Successful completion of the conditions of that undertaking will result in withdrawal of the charge.

WA

Western Australia classifies cocaine as a “prohibited drug.”

The crime of supplying prohibited drugs in Western Australia makes no distinction between selling the drugs or distributing them for free. Possession with intent to supply is included in the crime’s definition. The maximum sentence for the offence is 25 years.

The crime of possession or use of prohibited drugs carries a maximum sentence of 5 years the conviction is on an indictment. However, most simple possession convictions occur during a summary proceeding where the maximum sentence is 2 years.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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