Taking drugs at music festivals
By Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers
Music festivals, nowadays, have become hotspots for drug carriage and exchange by youngsters. With drugs, it brings scores of drug-related illnesses, overdoses, and even deaths.
The two most common drug offences are:
- Possession: which involves physical carriage of prohibited drugs on yourself, house or car and includes jointly possessing with another person.
- Supply: which involves providing prohibited drug to another person. It can be in exchange for money, property or services.
The penalties for these offences vary across Australia and also vary by offence, drug type etc. The maximum penalty these offences carry are:
- 2 years imprisonment for possession or use of a prohibited drug.
- 2-14 years of imprisonment for supply of drugs at lower level. High level of supply offences carry a maximum penalty of life in NSW.
What happens when caught with illicit drugs in festivals:
Police can search festival goers if they have “reasonable suspicion” that they are carrying drugs. An indication from the sniffer dog is a “reasonable suspicion”. If caught with drugs then the police can slap the offender with drug related charges.
First time offenders are usually dealt less severely as compared to those committing second or more offence. The penalties are less serious. The sentencing depends on the circumstances like, what drugs were found, in what quantity, the offenders criminal history etc. Under sec 10 of Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, a court may, upon a plea or finding of guilt, order to dismiss the charges against the offender without any record of conviction.
But, it is not the case always. It entirely depends on the judicial authority on what basis they consider the case. In 2016, Magistrate John Favretto handed out fines and criminal conviction to some first-time offenders. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Favretto referred to drug-related deaths before handing out convictions. “These offences are too serious as people keep dying. It’s got to stop,” Favretto said.
There are various police and court drug diversion programs, offered in NSW. First time offenders can be ordered civil penalty or diverted into an education or treatment program, or both. But the offender must be eligible for such order.
If the offender receives criminal conviction then it can have serious impact on future prospects. It may alter or impact travel, limit the type of jobs they can apply for, dismissed or refused promotion and so on.
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