Drug Defence lawyers specialising in defending drugs allegations (London & Manchester)
Olliers Solicitors has significant experience in defending people accused of all types of drugs offences. Matt Corn is the head of our Serious Crime Department and is supported by Alex Close-Claughton. Both have wide ranging experience in the dealing with clients accused of drug offences.
If you are arrested for a drug offence you should always contact a solicitor for advice.
Drugs legislation is still largely governed by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The illegal drugs fall into Classes A, B or C. The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 is also relevant.
Drug offences vary in terms of seriousness. At the bottom end, it can be simple possession – e.g. a small wrap of cannabis for personal use, and at the top end it can be commercial scale operations involving the supply of significant quantities of drugs.
Being concerned in the supply of drugs
This offence covers those who are involved in the supply of drugs but aren’t necessarily in possession of them. An example of this might be driving someone around who you know is supplying drugs. Alternatively, it could be someone who acts as a middle man, introducing the supplier to the customer.
Possession with intent to supply
This is when someone is in possession of a drug and they are intending on supplying it to another person/people. This could be social supply to friends or it could be looking after drugs for another person. It could include street dealing or alternatively it could be couriering drugs from one location to another.
Production of drugs
The most common form of this is Production of Cannabis, which is also known Cultivation of Cannabis. Cultivation of cannabis can be something as small as one plant for personal use to a full commercial scale cannabis farm. Other drugs that are routinely produced in the UK include MDMA and amphetamine. This often takes place in an ad hoc lab and involves combining chemicals and creating reactions in order to produce the desired drug.
Often where there is more than one person suspected of drugs offences, the prosecution will charge the case as a Conspiracy. This simply means an ‘agreement’ to do something. Typically, there might be a conspiracy to supply or produce drugs. The conspiracy would include persons occupying various different roles – street dealing, storing drugs, passing on telephone messages from suppliers to customers, couriering drugs, mixing drugs,or at a higher level it might include those directing and organising a supply network. At the highest end there might be a conspiracy to import drugs. Click here to read more about conspiracy in relation to drugs offences.
Watch Matthew Corn, Serious Crime Partner, discussing conspiracy offences
Class A drugs
These include heroin, cocaine, ‘crack’, MDMA or ‘ecstasy’, LSD. Offences involving these drugs carry higher sentences upon conviction. Almost inevitably, offences involving class A drugs will be dealt with in the crown court and can result in custodial sentences of some length depending on the amount of drugs and the role performed by the individual.
Class B drugs
Typically, these would include amphetamine, cannabis, ketamine. Sentences .will be less than class A drugs but they can still result in custodial sentences and are based on the amounts and the role played by the accused.
Class C drugs
These could include diazepam, nandralone, testosterone, temazepam. These are less serious offences and sentences would reflect this however if the amounts were significant and commercially based, this would aggravate any sentence to be passed.
What evidence is used in drugs cases?
The prosecution present their evidence in drugs cases in a variety of ways, not just exhibiting the drugs actually recovered in a case. Evidence might include:
- Debt lists recovered
- Drug paraphernalia seized such as bags, scales
- surveillance observations,
- telephone contact between relevant parties,
- cell site analysis showing the locations of people’s phones,
- ANPR data to show movements of cars used by accused persons,
- Covertly recorded conversations from vehicles or properties.
- Forensic/ DNA evidence linking a person to drugs or phones used in the drug related activity
- Movement of money and or Cash seizures
How can Olliers help me if I face a drugs charge?
Sometimes it is necessary for us to instruct experts to deal with aspects of the prosecution evidence or to assist in the presentation of defence evidence.
Matt Corn and Alex Close-Claughton specialise in and undertake the bulk of such drugs cases at Olliers and can advise in relation to all aspects of drugs offences. They also instruct a selected number of trusted barristers at chambers approved by Olliers.
Sentencing drugs offences
The courts are assisted by sentencing guidelines which are in existence for all types of drug offences. Typically the guidelines will be used to determine whether a drugs offence (whether class A B or C) is a Category 1, 2, 3 or 4 based on the amount. Then one turns to the role of the accused – lesser (e.g. person who waters a cannabis plant under instruction), significant (street dealer, courier, storekeeper, manager of production) or leading (organiser, financier, beneficiary). The roles and categories are fluid in that a person could be said to be a high significant or a low leading role.
Click here to read more about sentencing in relation to drugs allegations.
Watch serious crime specialist solicitor Matt Corn discussing the importance of using a specialist criminal solicitor if you face serious criminal charges.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answer to this question is not a simple one, it will depend on the offence, the class and quantity of drug. Just because it’s your first offence doesn’t automatically mean you will avoid prison. If you are convicted of being in possession of a relatively small amount of any class of drug, yes you are likely to avoid prison. You may even be cautioned by the police instead of appearing in to court. If you are convicted of supplying a Class C or B drug, you are at risk of a prison sentence but could still avoid it depending on the quantities involved. If you are convicted of supplying a Class A drug you are at significant risk of going to prison, even in low quantities. The judge will take into account your lack of previous convictions when they sentence you but it may not stop them from sending you to prison if they think the offence is serious enough.
The best way to avoid prison if you are accused of suppling Class A drugs is to take the case to trial and win. However often the strength of the evidence means that the most sensible option is to plead guilty. A person awaiting sentence for supplying or being concerned in the supply of class A drugs will usually expect a prison sentence. However, it is not unheard of for people to avoid prison. The sentencing guidelines that judges use to determine sentences indicate that those convicted of an offence relating to the supply of drugs directly to users will usually receive a prison sentence. However if not supplying directly to users, with low quantities and/or the offender is placed into a ‘lesser role,’ with credit for a guilty plea and good personal mitigation it may be possible to receive a suspended sentence.
In short yes it is. The offence of possession with intent to supply does not require any money to change hands. It is simply when one person ‘supplies’ drugs to other people. If you pick up some drugs for a Technically the act of passing a cannabis joint to a friend is supplying them with cannabis, even if the joint was passed to you by someone else and it wasn’t yours in the first place. This can be extrapolated up to more serious offending. Someone who knowingly looks after a larger quantity drugs for someone else and then gives it back to them or another person is guilty of supplying. The fact that there was no financial reward for the supply would be taken into consideration by a judge when sentencing but it certainly doesn’t amount to a defence.
A leading role is a role that an offender can be placed into when a judge decides on sentence for a drugs case. It will attract a longer sentence relative to the amount of drugs than a significant or lesser role. The following features are likely to attract a leading role-
- directing or organising buying and selling on a commercial scale;
- substantial links to, and influence on, others in a chain;
- close links to original source;
- expectation of substantial financial gain;
- uses business as cover;
- abuses a position of trust or responsibility.
A lesser role is a role that a person is placed into by a judge when determining sentence in a drugs case. It attracts a lesser sentence than a significant role or leading role.
The following features of a case will result in a lesser role – performs a limited function under direction;
- engaged by pressure, coercion, intimidation;
- involvement through naivety/exploitation;
- no influence on those above in a chain;
- very little, if any, awareness or understanding of the scale of operation;
- if own operation, solely for own use (considering reasonableness of account in all the circumstances).
A significant role is a role that a person can be placed into by a judge when they decide on sentence. A significant role will attract a lesser sentence than a leading role but a higher sentence than a lesser role.
The following features in a case will result in a significant role- operational or management function within a chain;
- involves others in the operation whether by pressure, influence, intimidation or reward;
- motivated by financial or other advantage, whether or not operating alone;
- some awareness and understanding of scale of operation
Recent drugs cases
- 2022 – Operation Praslin – Represented defendant in multi-handed conspiracy to supply class A. EncroChat case linked to Operation Venentic.
- 2022 – Operation Kamina – Represented defendant multi-handed conspiracy relating to supply of class A drugs in Manchester and across the North West.
- 2022 – Operation Casino – Represented defendant accused of Conspiracy to Supply large quantities of Class A and B drugs on a national scale. Defendant avoided custody after offering a plea to a lesser offence.
- 2021 – Operation Rampur – Manchester Crown Court – representing defendant in multi handed conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs.
- 2021 – R v P – Manchester Crown Court – representing defendant in multi handed conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs
- 2021 – R v F – Minshull Street Crown Court – representing defendant charged with supplying class A drugs and producing cannabis
- 2021 – Operation Erath 3 – Manchester Crown Court; representing defendant charged with conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs
- 2021 Leicester Crown Court – Operation Buster ; representing defendant charged as part of a multi handed importation, supply and production of Class A and B drugs.
- 2020 – Operation Malling – Minshull Street Crown Court, representing defendant in multi handed allegation of supplying class A drugs
- 2020 – R v A – Sheffield Crown Court, representing defendant charged with conspiracy to supply firearms, ammunition, class A drugs and also money laundering.
- 2020 – Operation Nimrod – Southwark Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with supplying large quantities of class C drugs.
- 2020 – Operation Erbium – Sheffield Crown Court ; representing defendant charged with conspiring to supply class A drugs and transferring firearms.
- 2020 – Operation Brutus – Warwick Crown Court; representing defendant charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
- 2020 – Exeter Crown Court – Operation Release; Representing defendant charged with attempted murder, and conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
- 2019 – Manchester Crown Court ; R v A and O. Represented two defendants charged with conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs
- 2020 Operation Erbium – Sheffield Crown Court. Currently representing defendant in multi handed drugs and firearms conspiracy.
- 2020 – Exeter Crown Court – Operation Release; Represented defendant charged with attempted murder, and conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
- 2019 – Manchester Crown Court; R v A and O. Represented two defendants charged with conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs
- 2019 –20 Leicester Crown Court – Operation Buster; representing defendant charged as part of a multi handed importation, supply and production of Class A and B drugs.
- 2018 – Operation Cosmetic – Manchester Crown Court representing defendant charged with a conspiracy to supply class A drugs and possession of a firearms.
- 2018-2019 – Operation Blush – Liverpool Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with conspiracy to possess firearms and to supply class A and B drugs.
- 2019 – 20 Operation Quartz –Manchester Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with production of amphetamine.
- 2018-2019 – Operation Hemisphere – Sheffield Crown Court. Represented defendants charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
- 2017 – Operation Crew – Nottingham Crown Court. Represented defendant in multi handed conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
- 2017 – Operation Legend – Manchester Crown Court. Represented defendant in large scale drugs and money laundering conspiracy.
- 2017 – Operation Jasper – Preston Crown Court. Represented defendant in multi handed large scale conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
- 2017 – Operation Crackle 3 – Birmingham Crown Court. Represented defendant conspiracy to supply heroin.
- 2016-17 – Operation Afterburn II – Portsmouth Crown Court. Currently represented 2 defendants in a multi handed conspiracy to supply Class Drugs.
- 2016 – Operation Quad – Norwich Crown Court. Represented defendant in a conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
- 2015-16 – Operation Calzone – Northampton Crown Court. Represented one of 19 defendants charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
- 2015 – Operation Measure – Caernarfon Crown Court. Represented defendant in multi handed conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
- 2015 – Operation Destiny – Leeds Crown Court. Represented two defendants charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and money laundering.
- 2015 – Operation Wreckage – Manchester Crown Court. Represented defendant charged with conspiracy to supply Class B drugs.
- 2014 – R –v– S Liverpool Crown Court. Represented defendant charged with conspiring to import half a tonne of cocaine.
- 2014 – R –v– R Liverpool Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with importation of drugs previously known as “legal highs”.
- 2014 – Operation Cobweb – Teesside Crown Court, represented defendant in large scale conspiracy to supply Class A Drugs.
- 2011 – Operation Dearly – Birmingham Crown Court. Acted for defendant in multi handed drug conspiracy to import cocaine from South America.
Contact a specialist drugs lawyer? (London & Manchester)
If you or a family member are facing a drugs allegation, contact Matt Corn or Matthew Claughton to discuss your case on 0161 834 1515, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the form below.