‘Section 10’ is a phrase that regularly makes the rounds both in criminal and traffic law. It refers to the possibility of having no conviction recorded, following a plea of guilty or a finding that an offence has been proved after a court hearing. In the case of a drug possession charge, that potential is no small matter, especially when you think about the effects of a conviction on your future endeavours, such as work and travel.
The right advice
Without the right information about how Section 10 might apply to your particular drug possession charge, valuable opportunities might be missed. Here, we set out the basic nature and uses of Section 10, and provide our tips for preparing your best defence in a drug possession matter.
A valuable possibility
When pleading guilty to a charge of drug possession, the possibility of a conviction being recorded, in addition to another penalty, is an available sentencing option. However, under Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, it is possible for the court to refrain from recording a conviction.
No mere dismissal
The court has a number of options, should the decision be made to deal with your drug possession charge under Section 10. In ideal circumstances, the court can exercise its discretion to not record a conviction and dismiss the charge under s10. That is, even though you have pleaded guilty the Court can decide that no criminal conviction will be entered on your record. On other occasions, the dismissal can be accompanied by a good behaviour bond, or some form of intervention program. Either way, there will be no recording of a criminal conviction.
Know your defences
Yet – this is the law. It’s never simple! Your personal circumstances, health, and prior good character may all be relevant and can be put forward. For example, the court might be able to take into account your age, or even a mental condition, if these are relevant to the drug possession charge. One other element for the judge to consider might be the slight or relatively non-serious nature of the offence. In a drug possession charge, this could come down to an issue such as negligible quantity of a substance.
Explaining your case
Section 10 considerations can also be broader than these. The law gives the Court ample room to consider extenuating circumstances or other factors that they consider important. You might be able to demonstrate special issues that impact on either the charge, or the potential conviction.
Help at hand
It’s important to seek precise, expert advice about getting a Section 10 from our experienced team of drug defence lawyers, who will be able to walk you through the matters that a Court will consider when deciding whether to grant a section 10 dismissal or with conditions.