Trafficking Cannabis Charges
Trafficking a Drug of Dependence (Cannabis); Possessing a Drug of Dependence (Cannabis), Using a Drug of Dependence (Cannabis), Possessing Property Suspected of Being the Proceeds of Crime being $1650.
Police attended the client’s property without a warrant and asked the client questions in relation to trafficking cannabis. The police said that an anonymous source had indicated that the client had been trafficking. The client had no prior history and was not clear how to handle police. When asked if he had cannabis inside his property he told the police he did and then went and retrieved it. The client was then arrested, read his rights and attended the police station. He indicated on his Record of Interview that he had been trafficking for 5 – 10 years.
This was one of the worst Record of Interviews imaginable.
Had the client contacted our office prior to participating in the interview we would have strongly advised that he make a no comment interview (i.e. answer all questions put to him with ‘no comment’). Effectively the client had made the police case for them.
Retrieved from the house was one ounce of cannabis (20 grams under what the legislation considers a small quantity of cannabis), no scales, and no spare bags. There were no incriminating text messages and no surveillance was alleged. Ultimately there was no indication of drug trafficking.
Without the client’s admissions, the police would have had no case in relation to trafficking unless they had been able to obtain a statement from their anonymous source. As criminal lawyers we know this rarely happens.
The admissibility of the Record of Interview was questionable, as the arrest resulted from what might be considered improperly obtained evidence. When attending the address the police did not have a warrant. Rather than cautioning the client (i.e. recommending he talk to a lawyer) they instead applied some pressure to the client to make admissions at the scene.
The problem for the client was that the police had a reasonable suspicion that he had committed a crime based on the information they had received. Prior to conducting the Record of Interview the client was finally cautioned, but he declined to talk to a lawyer and made full admissions.
It would ultimately come down to a question of fairness. Weighing up all these factors the client instructed us to enter a plea of guilty. Based on the lacklustre way that police had conducted themselves initially at the scene and after raising the above issues with a prosecutor, the matter was case conferenced. The prosecution were prepared to withdraw the Proceeds of Crime and Possession charges, and to further amend the summary to read that the client had only been trafficking for 2 months. This was a significant reduction from 5 – 10 years.
Following submissions to the Magistrate in relation to the client’s impressive cooperation and admissions, against the backdrop of what would have otherwise been a weak police case, the client was dealt with leniently by way of a $2500 fine.
This was a unique outcome in relation to drug trafficking and should not be expected as a rule. Defendants rarely get away with a fine for trafficking a drug of dependence.