Leading Drugs Specialist Solicitors, London and Manchester
Olliers has vast experience of defending drugs allegations which dates back over 25 years. The firm’s reputation for committed and rigorous defence work means that we attract some of the heaviest and serious criminal cases in the country.
Drugs offences are primarily prosecuted under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Offences range from simple possession of lower level drugs through to possession with intent to supply, importation and cultivation offences.
The Law – Drugs
Controlled (illegal) drugs fall into three categories – A, B and C with A being the most serious class of drug and C the least serious:
- Class A including drugs such as cocaine, heroin and ecstasy
- Class B including drugs such ascannabis, amphetamines
- Class C including drugs such as khat, diazepam and anabolic steroids
Possession with Intent to Supply
Possession of drugs with intent to supply ranges from small scale street dealing to large scale supply of Class A drugs. Sentencing for such offences is affected by a number of the factors including the class of drugs, the amount of drugs involved and the role which the court consider the defendant took in the supply of drugs. The Sentencing Council has produced definitive guidelines to be used by the courts when sentencing offenders for drugs offences.
Where drugs have been seized by the police, particularly where the quantities are small, they will often look for additional evidence to bring a charge of possession with intent to supply. This can include scales, snap bags, dealer lists, telephone lists, mobile phone analysis, fingerprint/DNA analysis of the drugs and more.
Production of Drugs/Cultivation of Cannabis
There are separate offences of both production of controlled drugs under section 4 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and cultivation of cannabis under section 6 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Production is defined as ‘manufacturing, cultivating or production by any other method’. As an example separating those parts of a cannabis plant which are not usable from those which are, is considered preparation and can therefore amount to the offence of production.
In determining whether or not to charge cultivation, as opposed to production of cannabis, the main difference between the offences is in the application of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002. Production comes within the list of “Lifestyle Offences” in POCA, which allows the court the scope to make a confiscation order where a defendant is shown to have benefited from their criminal conduct.
A person can only be charged with cultivation or production, rather than both offences together.
Conspiracy to Supply/Import Drugs
Conspiracy is the agreement by two or more people to carry out a criminal act. Even if nothing is done in furtherance of the agreement, the offence of conspiracy is complete. Its is defined in Section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977. Conspiracy is often linked to offences of organised crime.
It is very common in large scale drugs cases where there are multiple defendants for them to be charged with conspiracy to supply or import drugs. In such cases the prosecution will allege that all defendants have some role in the offences having been part of the agreement and then fulfilling some role in the commission of the same. In such cases people can be guilty of an offences even if they have never had any contact with actual drugs themselves .
Cases of conspiracy to supply or import drugs often involve undercover police operations, complex telephone evidence, detailed forensic investigations involving DNA, fingerprints and analysis of drugs.
Most of the offences under the Misuse of Drugs Acts are considered “lifestyle offences” and consequently, in the event of conviction, confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 are almost inevitable.
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Olliers provide specialist advice and representation throughout England and Wales.
We are the Manchester Legal Awards Crime Team of the Year 2016 and are ranked as a Top Tier criminal firm in the 2016 edition of the Legal 500 and Chambers Directory 2017.