Drug Offences

Having a drug-related criminal record against your name can negatively effect every part of your life, from the point of conviction to an indeterminate number of years following release. For such reasons, if you - or someone you know - are facing drug charges then you need a team of drug offence specialists to thoroughly prepare your case and fight to clear your name.

This page will:

  • Share up-to-date classifications according to drug laws in the UK
  • Advise on sentencing guidelines for various drug offences
  • Explain the defence processes that have reputably helped others in similar situations

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UK Drug Classifications

ClassificationDrugPossessionSupply & Production
ACrack cocaine, cocaine, ecstacy (MDMA), heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, methadone, methamphetamine (crystal meth)Up to seven years in prison, an unlimited fine, or bothUp to life in prison, an unlimited fine, or both
BAmphetamines, barbiturates, cannabis, codeine, methylphenidate (Ritalin), synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones (e.g mephedrone, methoxetamine), ketamineUp to five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or bothUp to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both
CAnabolic steroids, benzodiazepines (diazepam), gamma hydroxyUp to two years in prison, an unlimited fine, or bothUp to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both

The following information runs through the sentencing guidelines for offences pertaining to the above controlled substances.It's important that you take note of this section, because whether or not it is you or someone else that could be charged, your own research helps us undermine the prosecution.

Drug Offences Sentencing Guidelines

Possession defences

The charge ‘possession of a controlled drug’ comes under Section 5(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

What happens at court?

In more extreme circumstances, perhaps where much larger quantities are in the individual’s possession (which would then likely lead to a ‘possession with intent to supply’ charge), possession of an illegal drug attracts lengthy imprisonment - even though it may be seen as the least serious of all the drug offences.

Before the court decides on a sentence, they will consider other factors that increase the seriousness of the offence in question (anything from possessing drugs while on bail to possessing drugs around children). The court also takes into consideration factors which decrease the sentence (like having no previous convictions).

  • The maximum sentence for possession of class A drugs is seven years
  • The maximum sentence for possession of class B drugs is five years
  • The maximum sentence for class C drugs is two years

Possession with intent to supply defences

Supplying or offering to supply a controlled substance comes under Section 4(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, while possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply it to another comes under Section 5(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

What happens at court?

The court will seek to determine factors that influence the severity of the sentence, which could include what the offender’s role in the offence was or the quantity of drugs involved. The court will also attempt to expose any aggravating factors (attempting to dispose or conceal the drugs, for example.

  • The maximum sentence for possession with intent to supply class A drugs is life imprisonment
  • The maximum sentence for possession with intent to supply class B drugs is 14 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine
  • The maximum sentence for possession with intent to supply class B drugs is 14 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine

Production and cultivation of cannabis plant(s) defences

Production of a controlled substance comes under Section 4(2)(a) and Section 4(2)(b), and the cultivation of cannabis plant(s) comes under Section 6(2) - both of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

What happens at court

The production and cultivation of illegal drugs is seen as a very grave and serious matter. The court will seek to determine what part was played by the offender in question - whether they directed the production of illegal drugs (a leading role), they managed certain roles within the process (a significant role), or they actually had little awareness of the scale of the whole operation (a lesser role). The quantity and scale of the drugs will also be taken into consideration, as will any factors that increase the seriousness of the offence or those which may reduce the sentence.

  • The maximum sentence for the production of class A drugs is life imprisonment
  • The maximum sentence for the production of class B drugs is 14 years imprisonment
  • The maximum sentence for the production of class C drugs is 14 years imprisonment
  • Import / export of illegal substances defences

    The fraudulent evasion of a prohibition by importing and/or exporting controlled substances comes under Section 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and Section 170(2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.

    What happens at court?

    As is the usual practice, the court will seek to determine the role played by the offender. For example, the offender’s role can be split into three categories: a leading role, a significant role, and a lesser role. The quantity of drugs is usually split into four categories and depends on the scale of operation. Here’s an example based on various quantities of cocaine: 5kg would be in category one, up to 1kg in category two, up to 150g in category three, and up to 5g in category four.

    Both aggravating and mitigating factors will be sought to reach a justifiable conclusion to the case. An aggravating factor would be if the offence is not the individual’s first drug-related offence, but is in fact the latest of a string of drug-related offences. A mitigating factor would be if the offender has no previous convictions whatsoever or there has been remorse shown.

    • The maximum sentence for the import/export of class A drugs is life imprisonment
    • The maximum sentence for the import/export of class B drugs is 14 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine
    • The maximum imprisonment for the import/export of class C drugs is 14 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine
    • Allowing premises to be used defences

      Giving permission for premises either owned by you or in your control to be produce illegal drugs (or store illegal drugs) comes under Section 8 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

      What happens at court?

      The court will take into consideration the quantity of illegal drugs as well as the offender's culpability. The court usually splits the above into three categories:

      • Category one will apply where a large amount of drugs have been seized and there is evidence to indicate the offender financially benefits
      • Category two will apply where a small amount of drugs have been seized and there is evidence to indicate the offender financially benefits
      • Category three will apply where a small amount of drugs have been seized but there is no evidence to indicate any financial advantages to the offender

      As is usual practice, both aggravating and mitigating factors will be sought to bring the case to a justifiable conclusion.

      • The maximum sentence for allowing premises to be used in reference to class A drugs, class B drugs, and class C drugs is 14 years imprisonment

        Contact our drug offence solicitors today

        For information and advice on your drugs charge, or to hire a team of specialist drug offence solicitors to represent you through legal proceedings, contact our team using the form at the top of this page. Alternatively, speak to us on the phone or email us at info@cmsolicitors.co.uk

Contact our specialist drug offences team using the form below. Alternatively, speak to us on the phone or email us at info@cmsolicitors.co.uk

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