Ice Epidemic in Victoria
Ice, a particularly strong form of methamphetamine (also known as crystal meth), has become one of Victoria’s most widespread and problematic recreational drugs. Statistics have shown that 7.0% of Australians aged 14 years or older have used methamphetamines, with crystal meth being the main form used.
Ice use has a plethora of immediate negative effects, including teeth grinding and excessive sweating; increased heart rate; psychosis; and aggressive behaviour. Long-term effects include extreme weight loss; anxiety, paranoia and violence; depression; kidney failure; increased risk of stroke; and dependence on Ice.
In 2014, the Parliament of Victoria Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee undertook an Inquiry into the Supply and Use of Methamphetamines, Particularly Ice, in Victoria. As a result, the Victorian Government has implemented its Ice Action Plan to reduce the availability of Ice to young people by establishing the Ice Action Taskforce, a policing unit specifically targeting Ice dealers and users. The Plan also provides increased support to families and communities; has expanded drug treatment programs; and has increased the number of drug and booze buses to stop Ice users driving while under the influence.
The Victorian Labor Party has invested over $45 million for the prevention, treatment and education of Ice use in the State. Increased reporting and policing has resulted in higher Ice-related arrests and charges. Ice use is seen across many age groups, but is particularly prevalent in young Victorians aged 20-29. If you or a family member has been charged with Ice use, possession or supply (also known as trafficking), you should seek legal advice from an expert criminal solicitor as soon as possible. As a parent or legal guardian of someone who has been charged with an Ice-related offence, you can also contact a criminal lawyer to seek legal advice in the matter.
The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) (DPCSA) deems certain substances illegal. Under Schedule 11 of the DPCSA, Methylamphetamine (the main form of Ice) is deemed an illicit drug.
|Drug||Large Commercial Quantity||Commercial Quantity||Traffickable Quantity||Small Quantity|
The table shows the minimum amount needed to be charged with certain offences in relation to Ice. If you or someone you know was caught with less than 3.0g of Ice, they may be charged with possession of a drug of dependence under s 73 of the DPCSA. However, as the table shows, being caught with just 3.0g of Ice deems a person to be trafficking in Ice. That is, s 73(2) states that if you or someone you know is caught with 3.0g of Ice or more, they are presumed to be trafficking Ice. This can lead to much more severe punishments, such as a maximum of 15 years imprisonment under s 71AC of the DPCSA.
If a person is charged with trafficking Ice in a large commercial quantity, or a large quantity, they may be liable to life imprisonment, or 25 years respectively. While the maximum sentence is rarely sought, large fines and criminal convictions often accompany these charges.
As outlined above, you, or a friend or family member, may have been charged with an Ice or methamphetamine offence for:
- Use of Ice/methamphetamine (s 75),
- Possession of Ice/methamphetamine (s 73), and/or
- Trafficking of Ice/methamphetamine (ss 71-71AC).
In addition to these charges, depending on the circumstances of your arrest, you may also be charged with assault; making threats; resisting arrest; introducing Ice into the body of another person; supplying Ice to a child; driving under the influence of Ice; or a range of other offences which may result in criminal punishment.
These are all very serious offences, and sadly often accompany Ice-related arrests. Because of the disastrous nature of Ice, erratic and psychotic behaviour as a result of Ice use often lead Ice users to lash out violently against police, paramedics, members of the public and loved ones.
There may be some defences available to you, or a friend or family member, if they have been charged with an Ice-related offence. It is critical however, that you seek expert legal advice if you have been charged or are expecting to be charged with an Ice-related offence.
Issues of control and possession arise where Ice has been found in commonly used or shared places. This can include share houses and even cars, where you are not the only owner or person with access to the space. However, anything found on you, or in an area which you have direct control over (such as your room or your own car), will be deemed to be in your possession (see s 5 DPCSA; R v Majo  VR 273). The onus would then be on you and your criminal solicitor to demonstrate why the Ice was not in your possession (R v Momcilovic  HCA 34).
You may also have a defence if you did not know you were in possession of Ice. However, this defence is difficult to prove where surrounding circumstances may make it hard to show that you were not aware the drug was Ice (see R v Nguyen  VSCA 172; Pereira v DPP (1988) 82 ALR 217).
What you should do
Defences to Ice-related offences are difficult to show, particularly where there is evidence of possession or use. If you tested positive to Ice after a random check at a drug and booze bus, you should contact a specialist criminal solicitor to represent you in court. A guilty plea, character statements and reasons why you need your licence may help you minimise fines and avoid time spent off the road.
Dribbin & Brown have expert criminal defence lawyers in Ringwood, Dandenong, Frankston, Moorabbin and the Melbourne CBD. If you or someone you know has been charged with an Ice-related criminal offence, or even if you are expecting to be charged, you should contact a criminal solicitor immediately. The more time you allow our office to prepare your matter, the greater the likelihood of a favourable outcome at court.
If you or a loved one is having difficulties as a result of Ice use, you should consult the Victorian Government’s Ice Information website: http://ice.vic.gov.au/. Ice is a dangerous drug with disastrous effects. Not only should you seek expert legal help, but you should seek professional medical and psychological help.