HomeLeading Criminal Defence Law FirmDrugs OffencesDrug Offences – Sentencing

Drug Offences – Sentencing

‘Drug offences’ can cover a range of offences including possession, possession with intent to supply, production, cultivation and conspiracy to supply.

How will my sentence be determined?

To determine your sentence, the courts look at Sentencing Guidelines and decide which ‘category’ and level of harm the offence that you have been convicted of falls into. The court does this by reference to the class of drug, the quantity of the drug and the role you played in the offence.

Drug Categories

Drugs are separated into 3 categories –  Class A, Class B and Class C.

The categories include, but are not limited to, the following:

Class A: crack cocaine, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, methadone, methamphetamine (crystal meth)

Class B: Amphetamines, cannabis, codeine, ketamine, synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones

Class C: Anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines (‘benzos’), gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), khat

A further category is a psychoactive substance. This is any substance which –

  1. Is capable of producing a psychoactive effect in a person who consumes it, and
  2. Is not an exempted substance.

A substance produces a psychoactive effect in a person if, by stimulating or depressing the person’s central nervous system, it affects the person’s mental functioning or emotional state. For example – Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas).

Roles

For most drug offences the role you have played within the offence is placed into one of three categories:

  • Leading role
  • Significant role
  • Lesser role

Mitigating Factors

The court will consider the ‘starting point’ of the sentence. The court can then make an upwards or downward adjustment to the sentence based on mitigating and aggravating factors.

The mitigating factors which the court will consider depends on which offence you have been convicted of. Examples of mitigating factors are as follows:

  • Your level of remorse
  • Your level of co-operation with the investigation
  • Your good character and/or exemplary conduct
  • Whether you have any learning disabilities or a mental disorder or any serious medical conditions that require long term, urgent or intensive treatment
  • Whether you are a sole or primary carer for related dependants
  • Your age if you are particularly young
  • Whether you have made any demonstrative steps to address this behaviour
  • Involvement due to pressure, intimidation or coercion falling short of duress

The court will also consider aggravating factors in your case and should also take into account any potential reduction in your sentence if you have pleaded guilty.

Different drug offences have a range of different sentences.

Possession of a controlled drug

If you are arrested for possession of a small amount of any drug for personal use – you may be able to receive an out of court disposal such as a conditional caution.

The starting point for all offenders for possession of a controlled substance is a fine.  The maximum sentence you can receive depends if your case is heard in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. In the Magistrates court the maximum penalty is 12 weeks’ custody.

The following starting point and category ranges apply:

Offence category             Starting Point                                    Category Range

Category 1 (class A)         Band C fine                                         Band A fine – 51 weeks’ custody

Category 2 (class B)         Band B fine                                         Discharge – 26 weeks’ custody

Category 3 (class C)         Band A fine                                         Discharge – Medium level community order

Supplying or offering to supply a controlled drug / Possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply it to another

If you are convicted of supplying or offering to supply a controlled drug or possession with intent to supply the court will assess your culpability depending on what role you have played and the quantity of drugs involved.

If you have directly supplied to users (including in prison) the starting point is not solely based on the quantity of drugs involved. The court will automatically consider the offence as a ‘Category 3’ offence which could carry a higher sentence.

There is a wide range of sentences for this offence depending on the class of drug, the quantity of the drug and your role in the offence. The following maximum sentences and sentence range apply:

Drug Category   Maximum                                                                           Offence Range

Class A                  Life imprisonment                                                      High level community order – 16 years’ custody

Class B                  14 years’ custody and/ or unlimited fine                Band B fine – 10 years’ custody

Class C                  14 years’ custody and/ or unlimited fine                Band A – 8 years’ custody

Importation or Exportation of Drugs

If you are convicted of importing or exporting a controlled drug (I.e. fraudulent evasion of a prohibition by bringing into or taking out of UK a controlled drug) the court will consider your role and the quantity of drug imported/exported.

There is also a wide range of sentences for this offence depending on the class of drug, the quantity of the drug and your role in the offence. The following maximum sentences and sentence range apply:

Drug Category   Maximum                                                                           Offence Range

Class A                  Life imprisonment                                                          Band A fine – 16 years’ custody

Class B                  14 years’ custody and/ or unlimited fine                 Discharge – 10 years’ custody

Class C                  14 years’ custody and/ or unlimited fine                 Discharge – 8 years’ custody

Producing Controlled Drugs/Cultivating Cannabis

There is a wide range of sentences for producing a controlled drug, depending on the class of drug, the quantity of the drug and your role in the offence. The following maximum sentences and sentence range apply:

Drug Category                   Maximum                                                                           Offence Range

Class A                  Life imprisonment                          High level community order – 16 years’ custody

Class B                  14 years’ custody and/ or unlimited fine                Band B fine – 10 years’ custody

Class C                  14 years’ custody and/ or unlimited fine                Discharge – 8 years’ custody

Permitting premises to be used

If you are convicted of permitting a premises to be used (either for supplying a controlled drug/producing a controlled drug/preparing opium or smoking cannabis), the court will consider your culpability and any harm caused. The following maximum sentences and sentence range apply:

Drug Category   Maximum                                                                           Offence Range

Class A                  14 years’ custody             Low level community order – 4 years’ custody

Class B                  14 years’ custody             Band A fine – 18 months’ custody

Class C                  14 years’ custody             Discharge – 26 weeks’ custody

Possession of psychoactive substance with intent to supply/ Supplying or offering to supply a psychoactive substance

If you are convicted of possession of a psychoactive substance with intent to supply to following sentencing range applies:

Maximum: 7 years’ custody         Offence range: Band B Fine – 6 years’ custody

Importing or exporting a psychoactive substance

If you are convicted of importing or exporting a psychoactive substance with intent to supply to following sentencing range applies:

Maximum: 7 years’ custody         Offence range: Discharge – 6 years’ custody

Ancillary Orders

If you are convicted of a drugs offence the court also has the power to impose ancillary orders.

The following orders can be imposed:

Serious Crime Prevention Orders (SCPO) – Section 1 of the Serious Crime Act 2007

A SCPO can be imposed either on conviction in the Crown Court of a serious crime or on application by the DPP to the High Court. The court must be satisfied that you have been involved in serious crime and that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the order would protect the public by preventing, restricting or disrupting your involvement in serious crime in England and Wales.

Travel Restriction Orders (TRO)

A travel restriction order can be imposed if you are convicted of a drug trafficking offence and sentenced to four years or more in prison.

This means you would be required to surrender your passport to the court upon release from prison.  The minimum length of a TRO is two years and breaching a TRO is an imprisonable offence.

Confiscation Orders (under Proceeds of Crime Act 2002)

Confiscation orders can only be made by the Crown Court if it is asked to do so by the prosecutor or if the Crown Court believes it is appropriate for it to do so.

Olliers have specialist solicitors who deal with all aspects of Confiscation Orders and Asset Recovery

FAQs

What should I do if I am convicted of a drugs offence?

If you are convicted of a drugs offence you should contact a specialist solicitor. Olliers have a specialist team who will be able to assist in achieving the best outcome.

What is the maximum sentence I can get for a drug offence?

This depends on the class of drug and whether you were in possession or supplying/producing/importing the drug:

Class      Possession                                                                         Supply, production and importation

A             7 years’ custody, an unlimited fine or both           Life sentence, an unlimited fine or both

B             5 years’ custody, an unlimited fine or both           14 years’ custody, an unlimited fine or both

C             2 years’ custody, an unlimited fine or both           14 years’ custody, an unlimited fine or both

What sentence will I get for a drugs conviction?

Your sentence will depend on a variety of factors. A specialist lawyer will be able to take you through the sentencing guidelines in detail and explain what range of sentence you would fall into.

Olliers Solicitors – Specialist Criminal Defence Lawyers

If you are facing an allegation in relation to drugs offences you will require specialist advice and you should contact our proactive and approachable team. They will apply their expert knowledge to your matter and will guide you through all aspects of your case. Contact us by telephone on 0161 834 1515, by email to info@olliers.com or complete the form below.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row height=”auto”][vc_column width=”1/4″][ult_team team_img_grayscale=”off” img_hover_eft=”on” team_member_name_tag=”h4″ link_switch=”on” staff_link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.olliers.com%2Flawyers%2Fcorn-matthew%2F” image=”id^5529|url^https://www.olliers.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Matt.jpg|caption^null|alt^Matt Corn|title^Matt|description^null” name=”Matthew Corn”][/ult_team][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][ult_team team_img_grayscale=”off” img_hover_eft=”on” team_member_name_tag=”h4″ link_switch=”on” staff_link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.olliers.com%2Flawyers%2Fclose-claughton-alex%2F” image=”id^5537|url^https://www.olliers.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Olliers-web30.jpg|caption^null|alt^Alex Close-Claughton|title^Alex Close-Claughton|description^null” name=”Alex Close-Claughton”][/ult_team][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][ult_team team_img_grayscale=”off” img_hover_eft=”on” team_member_name_tag=”h4″ link_switch=”on” staff_link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.olliers.com%2Flawyers%2Fclaughton-matthew%2F” image=”id^5675|url^https://www.olliers.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/matthew-claughton.jpg|caption^null|alt^null|title^matthew-claughton|description^null” name=”Matthew Claughton”][/ult_team][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][ult_team team_img_grayscale=”off” img_hover_eft=”on” team_member_name_tag=”h4″ link_switch=”on” staff_link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.olliers.com%2Flawyers%2Frebecca-dimond%2F” image=”id^5487|url^https://www.olliers.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Olliers-web37.jpg|caption^null|alt^Rebecca Dimond|title^Rebecca Dimond|description^null” name=”Rebecca Dimond”][/ult_team][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row height=”auto”][vc_column width=”1/2″]

Manchester

[/vc_column_text][us_contacts address=”196 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3WF” phone=”0161 8341515″ email=”info@olliers.com”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″]

London

[/vc_column_text][us_contacts address=”Berkeley Suite, 35 Berkeley Square, London” phone=”020 3883 6790″ email=”info@olliers.com”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row height=”auto”][vc_column]

If you would like to contact Olliers Solicitors please complete the form below

Contact Us 2023
Preferred method of contact

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Get in touch with one of our specialist solicitors today

Our expert team of experienced lawyers are here to help!

Manchester
London
MLAwards Crime Team of the Year 2024

Copyright © 2024 | Authorised & Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority | SRA No. 597078
Privacy Policy | Accessibility | Complaints | Built by SEO Strategy