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Bail may be denied for significant drug crimes where imprisonment is a likely punishment

Drug offences are taken seriously in NSW. Crimes involving large quantities of illicit drugs often result in imprisonment and in a denial of bail while the case is pending.

Bail for drug offences

The Bail Act 2013 made important changes in the law governing bail in NSW. If you are arrested for a less serious drug offence, the police can release you on bail. You will need to sign a form agreeing to certain conditions of release. If you oppose those conditions or if the police will not grant bail, you can ask the court to make a prompt bail decision.

In more serious drug cases, however, you will not be granted release on bail unless you can “show cause.” That means you need to convince the court that keeping you in custody would not be justified.

Serious drug offences to which the “show cause” requirement applies include any offence that involves the cultivation, supply, possession, manufacture, or production of a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug or prohibited plant. The amount that constitutes a “commercial quantity” depends upon the drug, but it is substantially more than a typical drug user would keep for personal use, and usually more than a low-level drug supplier would have on hand.

To “show cause,” you need to persuade the court of two things. First, you must satisfy the court that you will not flee if you are released. If you have a job and other ties to the community, such as property ownership and children in school, the court is more likely to believe that you will appear when you are asked to do so.

Second, you must satisfy the court that you are not a threat to the community. If the court believes you are likely to commit more drug crimes if you are released, the court will probably deny bail. If you have a legitimate source of income and if this is your first offence, you will be in a better position to argue that your release would not pose a risk to public safety.

Penalties for drug offences

Although more than a hundred people are incarcerated every year in NSW for possessing drugs for personal use, a fine is by far the more common punishment. Good behaviour bonds are also a more likely punishment than imprisonment. In many cases, offenders are able to avoid having a conviction recorded.

When a supply case is prosecuted in Local Court, imprisonment, suspended sentences, and good behaviour bonds are all typical outcomes. When imprisonment is imposed, the average sentence is about 6 months. Good behaviour bonds tend to last about 18 months.

Offenders who are convicted in District Court typically face harsher punishments. Each year, several hundred individuals who are convicted in NSW of supply are sentenced to prison. They represent more than half of the offenders who are convicted of supply. The average prison term is 25 months. About a quarter of convicted offenders receive a suspended sentence.

Cannabis cultivation punishments in Local Court usually involve a fine or a good behaviour bond. In District Court, the more likely outcome is a prison sentence or a suspended sentence. When imprisonment is imposed, the average sentence is 24 months.

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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