Drug Possession is an increasingly common offence, and with schoolies in full swing, leading law firm Creevey Russell Lawyers is advising schoolies to be aware of the impact of drugs and the impact charges can have on their life.
The firm says that what constitutes possession is far wider than what an individual might commonly think.
‘Drug possession is an interesting area of law, depending on the circumstances alleged. Not only does possession encompass its ordinary meaning, such as drugs being found on an individuals, but it can also be constituted by a person having knowledge and control of a certain area’, Creevey Russell Lawyers Principal Dan Creevey said.
‘Take the example of an apartment being shared by eight school leavers. For whatever reason, police may execute a search warrant in the unit, and locate a bundle of ecstasy pills in the lounge room. Those pills may have been purchased and owned by one person, but a number of people can be charged with possession of the same illicit drugs in the circumstances’, Mr Creevey said.
Mr Creevey said the Courts will look at the circumstances of the offence.
‘What the Courts look at is whether or not a person has knowledge or control of an illicit substance. In circumstances where the substance is not located on a person, but instead on common property, such as a lounge room table, actual possession is difficult to demonstrate. That is where the concept of occupier’s liability is relevant’. Mr Creevey said.
‘Occupier’s liability unusually attracts a reverse onus. Ordinarily, the law states that a person is presumed innocent of any offence until such point in time that their guilt is proven by prosecutions. Once occupier’s liability is raised, the onus is reversed, and an individual must demonstrate that they did not know, or ought not reasonably have known about the existence of the illicit substances. This can sometimes result in people being charged with possession of dangerous drugs, even though they never purchased drugs, due to the actions of their friends.
The firm encourages school leavers to be aware of the extended definition of possession, to ensure they do not get charged as a result of actions of others.
‘Drug possession charges can be particularly serious. A mistake at this age can have a long-lasting impact on an individual’s future employment prospects and ability to travel, as well as the substantive penalty imposed. Those penalties vary depending on the type and quantity of drug located, as well as a number of other circumstances taken into account by the Courts’, Mr Creevey said.
The best way to avoid drug charges is to not associate with drugs in any way, but in circumstances where an individual finds themselves in trouble, we encourage them to contact our office to support them through this stressful process.