Drug Trafficking

What will happen if you are charged with drug trafficking in Queensland


Trafficking is the most serious drug charge in Queensland. In essence drug trafficking is supplying drugs on a commercial basis. People charged with trafficking are almost always sentenced to a prison sentence. It is critical if you are charged with drug trafficking to get immediate advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer.


What is trafficking?

Trafficking is the carrying on a business of supplying dangerous drugs, it has a more commercial basis distinct from lower level supplying drug offences. In general it is like someone has decided to open up a business selling drugs.

The charge below trafficking is supplying dangerous drugs. That charge is generally where selling of drugs took place but it was less organized, less commercial and often the sales were to friends or a limited amount of people.   It is important to note that even if a person is charged by the police with drug supply rather than trafficking the Department of Public Prosecutions (“DPP”) can decide on the indictment to change the charge to Trafficking.


What is carrying on a business?

Carrying on a business can mean only one sale however in general just a few sales of drugs would not be enough. The expression means a continuous course of conduct engaged in to obtain a reward of a commercial character. The reward need not be money, though it most often is, it could be the sellers payment was some of the drugs being sold.


What does the prosecutor have to prove?

The prosecutor must prove the following elements for a person to be found guilty:

  1. The items sold was one specified as a dangerous drug by the Drug Misuse Act 1986
  2. The drug in question was unlawfully supplied,
  3. The person carried on the business of supplying drugs, and
  4. The alleged person was actually the supplier


What defences are available?

Certain defences that are available for other offences don’t apply to trafficking of drugs. In some cases it will be an defence if you knew the substance supplied wasn’t a dangerous drug.

In certain circumstances a defence of mistake might be available.

It will take an experienced criminal lawyer to look at the facts and advise if any defences are available.


What drugs can be trafficked?

The Drugs Misuse Act defines a dangerous drug to be;

  1. drugs specified in Schedule 1 or 2 of the Drugs Misuse Regulation
  2. a derivative or analogue of a Schedule 1 or 2 Drug
  3. a thing that has, or is intended to have, a pharmacological effect of a schedule 1 or 2 drug


Schedule 1 lists the most serious drugs, including;

  • Heroin
  • Amphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Methylamphetamine
  • LSD
  • MDMA
  • Certain Steroids


Schedule 2 lists the drugs considered by the Queensland Government as less serious than schedule 1 drugs.  Drugs listed in Schedule 2 include:

  • Cannabis
  • Morphine
  • Ketamine
  • Codeine
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone
  • Opium
  • Magic mushrooms


Can the charge be reduced?

Possibly, negotiations (case conferencing) with the DPP or Police Prosecutor can and most often should occur. Negotiations can occur about many things such as the facts, the appropriate penalty, defences or whether the charge could be reduced from trafficking to supplying drugs.

We have an article on negotiating charges with a prosecutor


What Court will the charge be heard in?

The charge will start in the Magistrates Court but will be transferred to the Supreme Court to be finalised.


What are the penalties for drug trafficking?

ChartGo (1).png


The chart above shows the outcomes for the 2,996 people sentenced in Queensland for trafficking from December 2013 to November 2020.

Wholly Susp is a wholly suspended prison sentence meaning the person was not ordered to spend any time in prison.

Part Susp means only part of the sentence was suspended and the person was required to spend some time in prison.

Prison is people who were required to spend a significant amount of time in prison before being released on parole.

As you can see prison is the sentence 99% of the time with almost 85% of people required to serve actual time in prison.


What can be done to reduce the penalty?

Negotiations with the prosecutor to try and reduce the charge would be the most important thing.

The actual penalty depends on a number of factors including;

  1. The drugs involved
  2. The amount of drugs
  3. The amount of transactions
  4. The period the trafficking occurred over
  5. The amount of money involved
  6. The offenders age
  7. The offenders circumstances
  8. The offenders previous criminal history, if any


Recording of a conviction

If the court imposes a prison sentence, even if it is wholly suspended, the court must record a conviction.


What is a serious drug offender certificate?

If the court sentences a person for trafficking they can issue a serious drug offender certificate. This certificate may be used by the Queensland Government as part of an application to obtain an order from the Supreme Court to forfeit assets of the offender to the State under Chapter 2A of the Criminal Proceeds Confiscation Act 2002.


The police want to talk to me about an allegation of trafficking or supplying drugs, what do I do?

Do not talk to police without getting immediate advice from an experienced criminal lawyer. You have the right not to give a statement to police and in almost all circumstances this is the best thing to do. We have an article on the right to silence in Queensland


Engaging Clarity Law to act for you

Engaging us gives you the best chance at obtaining the lowest penalty.   We are one of the leading criminal law firms in South East Queensland.  We appear every week in the courts with people charged with drug offences, it is this experience that allows us to get the best result for clients.  Other law firms simply don’t have the experience that we do and don’t know the judges like we do.  Just some of the benefits of us acting for you include;

  1. we know the judges and what they want to hear to give you the best outcome
  2. we have good relationships with the police prosecutors and the DPP
  3. we are there to help you through the process and make everything as stress free as possible, in most cases you will not have to say anything in court
  4. engaging us shows the court you are taking your charges seriously
  5. you will be fully informed of what is to happen in court and what this means for you after court
  6. unlike the police or the Judge, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests

If you are charged with any drug offence we can assist you.


What courts do you appear in?

We appear in every court in South East Queensland.  Just some of the courts we appear in for drug offences are;

Beaudesert Magistrates Court

Beenleigh Magistrates Court

Brisbane Magistrates Court

Caloundra Magistrates Court

Caboolture Magistrates Court

Cleveland Magistrates Court

Coolangatta Magistrates Court

Gatton Magistrates Court

Gympie Magistrates Court

Holland Park Magistrates Court

Ipswich Magistrates Court

Maroochydore Magistrates Court

Nambour Magistrates Court

Noosa Magistrates Court

Pine Rivers Magistrates Court

Richlands Magistrates Court

Redcliffe Magistrates Court

Sandgate Magistrates Court

Southport Magistrates Court

Toowoomba Magistrates Court

Wynnum Magistrates Court

For a full list of Courts we appear in click here.


What do you charge?

We charge a flat upfront fee for our services that means no hidden charges or unexpected bills. 


How do I get in touch with Clarity Law?

If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
  2. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
  3. email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Remember contacting us is obligation free, we can give you some initial advice, provide a quote for work that has to be done next and we will leave you to make up your own decision on the best law firm for you.


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