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      Import or Export Border Controlled Drug

      We have a dedicated team of senior criminal lawyers who specialise in drug importation cases. Our clients have consistently been found ‘not guilty’ to ‘import or export border controlled drug’ charges.

      If you have been charged with drug importation, it is crucial you speak to an expert drug lawyer to obtain advice about any possible defences that may be open to you.

      Contact us now to speak to our accredited specialist in criminal law.

      WHAT SHOULD I DO?

      • PLEADING NOT GUILTY

        What is drug importation?

        Under the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth), if you import, or intend to import a border-controlled drug, you can be guilty of an offence.

         

        How do you beat a Drug Importation charge?

        You can fight a drug importation charge in two ways. Firstly, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt:

        1. Import a substance OR Intend to import a substance
        2. That substance was a border controlled drug
        3. You were aware that it was a border controlled drug OR you knew there was a substantial risk it was a border controlled drug

        If any of these elements are not made out, then you can be found ‘not guilty’.

        Secondly, you can rely on one of the defences below.

         

        What does ‘Import’ mean?

        The definition of ‘Import’ includes bringing the substance into Australia as well as dealing with the substance in connection with its importation.

        This means that even if you were not the person who transferred the drug from one country to another, you may still be found guilty if you assisted in another step of the transfer of the drug – even if this was after the drug had arrived in Australia.

         

        What does ‘border controlled drug’ mean?

        “Border controlled drug” refers to a substance, other than a growing plant, that is covered by the offences relating to drug importation and exportation in the Criminal Code 1995.

        You should consult one of our specialist drug importation lawyers to see whether the substance you have been charged with falls into this definition.

         

        What is a ‘Substantial risk’?

        A substantial risk is, “something more than a mere possibility”. The Court will look at all the circumstances of the case in assessing whether you knew there was a substantial risk.

        Often participating in an interview with Police will provide them with evidence that you were aware that there was a substantial risk it was a border controlled drug.

        This is why it is important to speak to a specialist drug importation solicitor and obtain legal advice as soon as possible.

         

        What are the Defences to drug importation?

        You can be found ‘not guilty’ of importing a border controlled drug in the following circumstances:

        1. You had no knowledge and there was not a substantial risk that the substance was a border-controlled drug.
        2. If a particular weight of the drug is alleged (eg. large commercial quantity) and the prosecution cannot prove that you were aware of the weight of the drug
        3. The Crown cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that you imported the drug or that you had the intention to import
        4. The prosecution cannot prove the substance was a border-controlled drug
        5. Duress: You were forced to commit the offence
        6. Necessity: Your actions were necessary
      • PLEADING GUILTY

        If after receiving detailed advice from a specialist drug importation lawyer, you decide that the best course is for you to plead guilty, we can begin preparing your case to obtain the best possible outcome.

        You can refer to our guide for pleading guilty to drug offences for some general advice, however, you should consult a specialist drug lawyer for advice specific to your case.

        Contact us now to speak to our accredited specialist drug importation solicitor.

         

        What is the penalty for drug importation?

        The penalty for a drug importation charge varies based on the quantity of the drug a person is charged with.

        The maximum penalty for drug importation is 10 years imprisonment and/or $220,000 fine.

        The maximum penalty for importing a marketable quantity of a border-controlled drug is 25 years imprisonment and/or $550,000 fine.

        The maximum penalty for importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug is Life imprisonment and/or $825,000 fine.

         

        What are the Possible Sentences for drug importation?

        Below is a list of possible sentences for drug importation:

        1. Section 19B non conviction
        2. Fine
        3. Section 20 Conditional Release (with conviction)
        4. Recognizance Release Order (suspended sentence)
        5. Intensive Corrections Order
        6. Full Time Imprisonment

         

        What are the sentencing guidelines for drug importation?

        The New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal set out a sentencing guideline for drug importation in DPP v De La Rosa [2010] NSWCCA 194.

        While the factors that may be relevant in the sentencing exercise are innumerable, generally the following criteria will appear in most cases:

        1. the degree of a person’s involvement in the drug importation;
        2. whether the Accused received or expected to receive any financial reward; and
        3. the weight or quantity of the drug.

        Below is a summary of the categories of seriousness for importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.

        The most serious category of offences will attract a sentence of 25 years imprisonment to life imprisonment. This category of offending will likely have the following factors present:

        • Significant degree of involvement and responsibility, being the principal or mastermind of the importation
        • Tens or hundreds of kilograms of the drug
        • Street value of drugs being in the tens of millions of dollars
        • The offender received or expected to receive a monetary reward in the vicinity of hundreds of thousands of dollars
        • The offender did not display any remorse
        • The offender pleaded ‘not guilty’

        The second category of seriousness will attract a sentence of between 18-25 years imprisonment with a 10-16 year non-parole period. The following factors are usually present:

        • The offender played an essential or vital role in importing the drugs;
        • The offender had a moderate to very high level of responsibility within the organisation;
        • The offender received or expected to receive a substantial monetary reward
        • Plea of guilty
        • Approximately ten kilograms of the border controlled drugs
        • High street value of drugs

        The third category of seriousness will attract a sentence of between 8-15 years imprisonment with a 4-11 year non-parole period. The following factors are usually present:

        • The offender held a mid-level role in the organisation;
        • The offender’s level of responsibility within the organisation was not significant;
        • Plea of guilty (although this may not have been entered at the earliest opportunity)
        • Assistance to police
        • The quantity of the border controlled drug was less than 7 kilograms

        At the lowest end of the scale of seriousness, an offender can expect to receive a sentence of between 6.5-8 years imprisonment with a 3-4.5 year non-parole period. The following factors are usually present:

        • The offender held a mid-level role in the organisation;
        • The offender’s level of responsibility within the organisation was not significant;
        • Plea of guilty (although this may not have been entered at the earliest opportunity)
        • Assistance to police
        • The quantity of the border controlled drug was less than 7 kilograms

        There is then the lesser category of offences where the border controlled drug is at the marketable or trafficable quantity.

        The most serious category of these offences will attract a sentence of 9-18 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 4-10 years imprisonment. This category of offending will likely have the following factors present:

        • The quantity of the border controlled drug was significantly greater than the marketable or trafficable quantity
        • Assisted law enforcement
        • The offender’s role can be described as a courier with more responsibility or played part in planning
        • Expected to receive or received a reward in the thousands of dollars

        The next category of seriousness will attract a sentence of 6-9 years imprisonment with a 3-5 year non-parole period. The following factors are usually present:

        • Offender’s role can be described as a courier or low-level importer
        • The quantity of the border controlled drug imported was significant
        • Financial reward or anticipated reward in the thousands of dollars
        • Plea of guilty entered but not at the earliest opportunity
        • Provided assistance to police

        At the lowest end of the scale of seriousness, you can expect to receive a sentence of 3-6 years imprisonment with a 2-4 year non-parole period. The following factors are usually present:

        • The offender’s role was that of a mere courier
        • The border controlled drug is at the lower end of the marketable or trafficable quantity
        • The financial reward was to relieve a debt or was committed to feed a drug addiction
        • Plea of guilty entered at the earliest opportunity

         

        Will you go to Jail for drug importation?

        It is almost inevitable that you will be sentenced to a term of full-time imprisonment if you are guilty of importing a commercial or large commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.

        The statistics for drug importation set out that 100% of persons found guilty to this offence were sentenced to some form of prison. Only one person received an Intensive Correction order – the remainder were sentenced to full-time imprisonment. The length of imprisonment ranges from 6 years to over 20 years.

        Plainly, jail is very likely for this offence. As such, you should speak to one Australia’s best criminal defence lawyers for drug importation charges.

      What If I Didn’t Know What Drug Was in the Package?

      Even if you did not know what specific ‘border-controlled drug’ was being imported, you can still be found guilty of drug importation. All the prosecution need to prove is that you were aware that there was a substantial risk that the package contained some ‘border-controlled drug’.