Our client was arrested by police after a sniffer dog detected the scent of a prohibited drug in the air, near our client. Upon searching him, police located a quantity of cocaine in a small resealable bag which had a gross weight of just over 1 gram, slightly above the small quantity according to the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act schedule. He was charged with drug possession pursuant to section 10 Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act and suffered the indignity and embarrassment of arrest.
Preparation for guilty plea
The quantity or weight of the prohibited drug is an important factor taken into account by the court when determining sentence. The quantities are broken down into categories; Small quantity, Traffickible quantity, Indictable quantity, Commercial quantity and Large Commercial quantity. If you have been charged with a drug offence, it is important that your lawyer understands which category your case fits into as the potential penalties vary significantly, as do the bail considerations.
Our client was employed by the government in a high profile job. A conviction for a drug offence could have disastrous consequences for his future – as it can for any person. He was given advice by the police who arrested him who told him not to bother going to court but to just write a notice of pleading and that he would just get a monetary fine. One should always be careful about taking legal advice from a police officer! The potential penalties include imprisonment for up to 2 years, fines, bonds, community service orders, intensive corrections orders, suspended sentences and home detention – hardly something to be taken lightly
A number of character references were obtained and a detailed plea was prepared in an effort to try and avoid a criminal conviction by having the Magistrate exercise discretion pursuant to Section 10 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act.
We appeared for our client in the Downing Centre and made submissions to the court as to why no conviction should be recorded, having regard to our client’s prior good character, lack of criminal antecedents, prospects of rehabilitation and contrition and remorse. The magistrate was understandably concerned by the prevalence of drugs in the community and the affect they have on not only the drug user, but the collateral impact involved.
After some persuading, the magistrate decided to dismiss the charge on the condition that our client enter into a good behaviour bond for a period of 12 months. An Order was made for the drug to be destroyed. There was no order for court costs. A victims compensation levy was payable.
The majority of people coming before the court for offences such as this either fail to consider or ignore the potential consequences of a criminal conviction and criminal record. Consequences in addition to the penalties set out above include employment restrictions, higher insurance premiums, and travel restrictions.