Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Been Charged with a Drug Offence?

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Working out whether or not you need a lawyer is going to depend on a lot of factors, perhaps most importantly, what is at stake. If your case is very serious, generally the earlier you get some legal advice, the better.

Drug offences range in severity, and can range from a good behaviour bond or a fine right up to imprisonment. Uncertainty can be stressful, but knowing what you are up against can go a long way towards alleviating your fears and successfully tackling the charges.

It is possible to successfully represent yourself in court, and the number of people choosing to do so is increasing.

However if you are legally inexperienced, you may not be aware of your options, or even what potential penalties you are facing. It is even possible that you might accidently incriminate yourself.

Getting an experienced lawyer may mean that you learn about options that you didn’t know you had, as well as ensuring that experts will be working to achieve the best possible results.

There is no need to turn up to court with a resignation to ‘your fate’ because the police got you.

But in reality, the game is not up, and you might still have a chance to beat the charges.

Pleading not guilty

If however you want to plead not guilty, there are many ways that an experienced lawyer can successfully challenge the prosecution’s case, and may even succeed in getting it withdrawn before getting to a defended hearing in the local court or jury trial in the district court.

If the prosecution does not have enough evidence, your lawyer can push to get the case dropped early in the case, and if the drugs were found during an illegal search this is also often grounds for a charge to be dropped.

It is important to note that being nervous or agitated is not enough for a search to be considered legal and any evidence found during an illegal search may be excluded.

One recent success story involves a 30 year old man who was caught with 73 tablets and capsules resembling ecstasy in resealable bags, as well as $770 cash.

The facts may seem pretty damning but the case didn’t even make it to a hearing.

‘Sydney Criminal Lawyers®’ was the law firm that represented the man.

They managed to get all the charges withdrawn and dismissed in Downing Centre Local Court.

Although the tablets were later forensically analysed and discovered to be a legal drug ‘Lofton’, it is still an offence to sell any substance if you told buyers that the substance was an illegal drug!

Despite this, the defence lawyers managed to persuade the prosecution to withdraw the charges because there was insufficient evidence to prove that the man was selling the substances as illegal drugs.

Pleading Guilty

If you want to plead guilty in court there are a number of steps you or your lawyer can take to get your charges minimised.

Pleading early can get you a reduction in your punishment, and showing remorse will improve your chances of a more lenient result.

You can write a letter of apology to the judge explaining how you take responsibility for your actions but have learnt your lesson.

The magistrate can also consider if a person is unlikely to offend, and of good character so getting some character references from people who know you well is a good thing to do.

Lawyers aren’t just for people pleading not guilty, either.

Lawyers can assist with these apology letters to the judge, and help you prepare character references.

Pleading guilty will also increase the chances of having your case dealt with under a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order, which means you don’t get a criminal conviction.

Of course, each case is specific, and if you want advice that takes into account all your individual circumstances, it is best to attend a lawyer’s office for a free first appointment to get an idea of where you stand.

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About Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Specialist Criminal Lawyer and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Sydney’s Leading Firm of Criminal & Traffic Defence Lawyers.