Criminal Law

Drug Charges

Don’t risk getting poor advice and representation from an inexperienced lawyer who doesn’t put in the time and effort required for your case.

Engage Andrew Williams to defend, mitigate and resolve your drug charges.

With over 18 years experience as a criminal lawyer defending people charged under WA’s anti-drug laws, Andrew Williams provides powerful and effective representation to people charged under the Misuse of Drugs Act WA and the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

Contact our offices immediately on (08) 9278 2575 to discuss your options and get the best representation for your case.

Learn more about drug offences in Western Australia and what they mean for anyone who has been charged with this offence: 


Drug Charge Conviction in Western Australia

If you are convicted of a drug charge, the negative impacts will exceed not just a criminal record.

A drug conviction will likely affect your employment prospects, your ability to take out a lease on a home, and your freedom to travel to certain parts of the world. Many countries, such as the US and Canada, deny entry to a person with drug convictions.

The quantity of the drugs can significantly affect the result of your case because the quantity of the drugs can impact how the police decide to prosecute you.

Drug charges then, require the careful assessment and representation of a specialist drug charge defence lawyer to increase your chances of avoiding being charged unlawfully or incorrectly and avoiding a criminal record that may play havoc with your future.


Charges Commonly Dealt with by Andrew Williams Criminal Law Offices

Drug charges occupy a significant volume of work at Andrew Williams Criminal Law Offices.

Andrew Williams has, for extensive experience in representing clients in a wide range of drug offences which include:

  • drug possession;
  • possession with intent to sell or supply;
  • trafficking;
  • commercial trafficking;
  • cultivation;
  • cultivation with intent to sell or supply;
  • conspiring with another to sell or supply;
  • manufacturing, and sale and distribution of drugs such as:
    • cannabis
    • synthetic drugs;
    • cocaine;
    • MDMA (ecstasy);
    • GHB;
    • heroin;
    • methamphetamine.

For more detailed information on how Andrew Williams can assist with your matter, read our article ‘ Advice from a Perth Drug Charge Defence Lawyer.


Possession Of A Prohibited Drug With Intent To Sell Or Supply

Perhaps the most commonly prosecuted drug charge in our Western Australian Courts is possession of a prohibited drug with intent to sell or supply. This drug offence is the subject of a huge caseload of matters that move through the District Court.

This section provides insight into the meaning of the charge of possession of a prohibited drug with intent to sell or supply, what the prosecution is required to prove; and in which court your matter is likely to proceed in.

What Elements Are The Prosecution Required To Prove For A Charge Of Possession Of A Prohibited Drug With Intent To Sell Or Supply?

The elements that the prosecution must prove are as follows:

  • The substance is a prohibited drug; in other words, an illicit drug (illegal to possess).
  • The accused knew of the existence of the prohibited drug.
  • The accused intended to possess the prohibited drug.
  • The accused held dominion or control over the prohibited drug.
  • The accused held an intention to sell or supply to another all or a portion of the illicit drug that was in his/her possession.


What Constitutes Being In Possession Of A Prohibited Drug?

You cannot possess a prohibited drug without knowing of its existence. For example, if someone asks you to hold on to their bag and you do so without knowing that there are drugs contained in the bag then, even though the bag might be in your physical custody, you will not be guilty of possessing the drug.

You can possess illicit drugs by having actual physical custody of the drugs or by having control or dominion over the drugs. In other words, you can possess a prohibited drug by physically having the illicit drug on your person. But you can also be found to possess a prohibited drug even if you are not physically holding the drug. A person who has control or dominion over an illicit drug has the drug.

For example, if the drugs were located in a safe to which only one person had access, that person would have control and dominion over the drugs and therefore will likely be found to be in possession of the drugs.

For simple possession of a prohibited drug to be established, there must also be evidence of an intention to possess a “drug” within the ordinary meaning of that word. You cannot be found to possess a prohibited drug if you do not intend to possess the drug.


Is It Necessary For The Prosecution To Prove The Accused’s Knowledge Of The Actual Drug That Was In Their Possession?

To prove a drug possession charge it’s not necessary for the prosecution to prove the accused’s actual knowledge of the prohibited drug. The prosecution is only required to prove that the accused had an awareness that the substance that they possessed was “likely” to be a prohibited drug.

For example, if the drug charge is related to methylamphetamine, the prosecution need not prove that the accused knew that what was in their possession was methylamphetamine. The prosecution need only prove that the accused knew, in the sense that there was a real or significant likelihood, that what was in their possession was a drug.


Can I Be Jointly Charged With Another For Possession Of A Prohibited Drug?

More than one person can possess drugs if they both have knowledge of the drugs and can be shown to have both exercised dominion and control over the drugs.

People are often jointly charged with the same offence of possession of a prohibited drug. Possession does not have to be exclusive to one person. Two or more persons can jointly possess one quantity of a drug at the same time, although the nature of their possession may be different.

For example, one person may possess a drug because of having intentional physical custody of the drug while another may have that same quantity of drug by having intentional control or dominion over the drug even though the drug is in the physical custody of the first person. Two or more people can also jointly possess one quantity of a drug at the same time by reason of them both having intentional control or dominion over the drug.


What Does “Intent To Sell Or Supply” Mean?

The word “sell” carries its ordinary meaning of exchanging prohibited drugs for money.

The word “supply” is wider in its meaning and includes to give, deliver, dispense, distribute, forward, make available, furnish, provide, return, post or send. It doesn’t matter that the drug is supplied on behalf of another or on whose behalf it is supplied.

A person can be charged and convicted of a charge of possession with intent to sell or supply based on the quantity of the prohibited drug that they possessed. Schedule V to the Misuse of Drugs Act operates to presume that a person intends to sell or supply the drugs if that person is found in possession of a quantity of the drug that exceeds a specified weight.

For example, a person who possesses not less than 2 grams of methylamphetamine is, under the law, presumed to have an intention to sell or supply that drug irrespective of whether there is evidence to infer that they were selling or intending to sell the drugs. So, what may be a simple possession of a drug offence becomes the more serious offence of possession with intent to sell or supply.

Where the legal presumption of intent to sell or supply arises and the accused refutes the allegation of an intention to sell or supply, the law places an onus on the accused to rebut the presumption. In these circumstances, the accused is required to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that they did not intend to sell or supply all or a portion of the prohibited drug to another.

The legal presumption of intent to sell or supply can be overcome if the accused can provide convincing evidence that the drugs were possessed for a reason other than an intention to sell or supply.

However, there are sometimes features of significance that are overlooked by those seeking to do so. The existence of items like large sums of cash, text messages located on a mobile phone, “tick” lists of money amounts owed by people, multiple clip-seal bags and scales will likely make it difficult for an accused to rebut the presumption of an intention to sell or supply.


Drug Trafficking

A drug trafficker declaration can be made when an offender has committed:

1. Three or more serious drug offences within 10 years, irrespective of the quantity of the relevant prohibited drugs or the number of the relevant prohibited plants (as the case may be).

2. One serious drug offence at any time, if the quantity of the prohibited drug exceeds the quantity specified in Schedule VII of the Misuse of Drugs Act in relation to that drug or the number of prohibited plants exceeds the number specified in Schedule VIII of the Misuse of Drugs Act about that plant.

When a person is convicted of a serious drug offence to which a drug trafficker declaration can be made, it is immaterial that the person asserts, or the court finds, that some of the prohibited drugs were for that person’s own use. This feature may however be relevant to the sentencing outcome.


What if a drug trafficking declaration is made in my case?

Being declared by a court to be a drug trafficker may impact the penalty for the charge or the charges the person is convicted of. For example, the maximum penalty under the Misuse of Drugs Act for the offence of possession with intent to sell or supply is significantly increased when there is a trafficable quantity involved.

Also, when a drug trafficker declaration is made it enlivens s.8 of the Criminal Property Confiscation Act 2000 (WA) (the CPC Act). When a person is declared to be a drug trafficker the property of that person can, under the CPC Act, be confiscated including:

  • All the property that the person owns or effectively controls at the time the declaration is made; and
  • All property that the person gave away at any time before the declaration was made, whether the gift was made before or after the commencement of the CPC Act.

The effect of such a declaration is extremely serious and any person who has been charged with an offence where they are staring down the barrel of a drug trafficker declaration should seek urgent and immediate legal advice.


Is There Anything Else I Need To Know?

If you are charged with the offence of possession of a prohibited drug with intent to sell or supply, some important questions require clarification:

  • What weight of the drug enlivens a legal presumption of an intention to sell or supply?
  • What court will hear and determine my matter?
  • Will I be subject to a trafficking declaration if I am convicted?

The following table sets out particular drugs and the threshold amounts under the Misuse of Drugs Act WA that provide an answer to the above questions:

Prohibited Drug Amount giving rise to an intention to sell / supply Amount determining court of jurisdiction Amount giving rise to a trafficking declaration
Methyl amphetamine 2 grams 4 grams or more is indictable and proceeds to the District Court 28 grams
Cocaine 2 grams 4 grams or more is indictable and proceeds to the District Court 28 grams
MDMA 2 grams 4 grams or more is indictable and proceeds to the District Court 28 grams
Cannabis 100 grams 500 grams or more is indictable and proceeds to the District Court 3 kilograms
Cannabis Plants 10 plants 20 plants or more is indictable and proceed to the District Court 20 plants

Frequently Asked Questions

The maximum penalty depends on the offence and the type of drug involved. For example, if the offence is simple possession of a prohibited drug the penalty will be significantly less severe than if the charge involved allegations of intent to sell or supply.

Furthermore, the penalties reflected in cases involving significant illicit drugs such as methylamphetamine, cocaine, MDMA and heroin are more significant than the penalties reflected in cases involving cannabis. 

A person facing drugs charges involving an intent to sell or supply carry a significant risk of being subject to a term of immediate imprisonment.

In Donaldson v The State of Western Australia [2018] WASCA 143 the appellant was convicted of possession of methylamphetamine with intent to sell or supply where the quantity of the drugs was 5.69 grams. The appellant in that case was sentenced to 2 years and 3 months immediate imprisonment.

In Jones v The State of Western Australia [2018] WASCA 105 the appellant was convicted of possession of methylamphetamine with intent to sell or supply where the quantity of the drugs was 5.15 grams.

The appellant in that case was sentenced to 1 years and 8 months immediate imprisonment.

The Drug Court operates out of the Perth Magistrates Court. The Drug Court deals with offenders who have committed criminal offences where the catalyst for the offending is drug addiction.

The drug court aims to achieve rehabilitation of the offender by facilitating treatment as a key part of the penalty which meets the expectations of the community.

By placing a firm focus on treatment, the drug court aims to:

  • Support participants in addressing their substance misuse and associated lifestyle and reduce re-offending; and
  • Reduce imprisonment of those with substance misuse issues by addressing problems that are central to their offending.

Offenders who participate in Drug Court programs are subject to strict bail conditions throughout the course of the drug court program. These conditions usually involve regular reporting, drug tests and court attendances.

Learn more about the Perth Drug Court.

Drug driving is a serious matter, particularly if the offence involves The driving under the influence of drugs to such an extent as to be unable to have proper control of the vehicle.

Separate laws under the Road Traffic Act WA make it an offence to have illicit drug or drugs detected in your system at the time of driving. In these circumstances there is no need for the prosecution to demonstrate that you were “incapable of having proper control of the vehicle”. It is sufficient that drugs were detected in your oral fluid or blood at the time of driving

WA has also recently introduced a separate offence to drive with a mixture of blood alcohol reading in excess of 0.05 AND also test positive to having a prescribed illicit drug in the oral fluid or blood. Such an offence will result in licence disqualification for a minimum of three months.

Find out more about drug driving offences

It is highly unlikely that you would ever be charged simply for being under the influence of drugs or having drugs in your system. However having drugs in your system may have implications in relation to circumstances such as breaching a bail condition (not to use illicit substances),  or being charged for other offences such as disorderly conduct or drug-driving (Driving with Prescribed Illicit Drug in Oral Fluid, or Drug Impaired Driving under the Influence of Drugs).

You must be in possession of drugs to be charged with ‘possession of a prohibited drug’. However – you must have had knowledge of the existence of the drug and also intended to be in possession of the drug.  Furthermore the prosecution must prove that you had ‘control’ or ‘dominion’ over the drug.

In certain circumstances you can also be charged with an “attempt” to possess a prohibited drug.


We Can Help

Drug charges are serious matters and carry tough penalties upon conviction in our state. Andrew Williams is an experienced and passionate criminal lawyer who will fight to protect your interests.

Have you recently been charged with a drug offence? If so, contact the Andrew Williams Criminal Law Offices today. You can reach us on (08) 9278 2575.

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Words cannot express my gratitude for Andrew agreeing to take my case on, commit to returning from annual leave early, and the personal support and legal expertise provided in defending the driving charges made against me.

The delays I experienced by the two adjournments, while prolonging my anxiety and reducing my faith that I would receive a favourable outcome, worked very much in my favour but moreover it was the multiple submissions and arguments that Andrew made at law on my behalf that cemented the somewhat miraculous outcome including two spent convictions.

Though I genuinely never for a second doubted Andrew's skills, experience and abilities, my fate felt somewhat pre-determined given the significant impact sustained by the complainant.

Andrew was kind, non judgmental, clearly experienced and committed and he accommodated my anxieties and emotion surrounding the charges laid against me.

Andrew went out of his way to give me the best chance possible for a favourable outcome that, in the end, the Magistrate considered and responded accordingly.

All in all, I could not have dreamt of a better outcome considering the circumstances and I...

Rel M
Rel M

I had Andrew deal with my case recently and couldn't of been happier with the result he got for me. From the start Andrew was quick to reply to any questions and queries I had regarding my matter. He was very professional in my opinion, very easy to talk to and explained things quite well. I felt very comfortable in the courtroom knowing that Andrew wanted to get the best result he could for me, and I would highly recommend Andrew Williams to anyone who needs a criminal lawyer.


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I was on a very tight rope where, if it balanced the wrong way, it would have totally devastated my life. Andrew was honest through the entire process preparing me for the worst but never let me give up and thankfully with his help got a great outcome that let me move forward with my family. I cant praise Andrew enough and recommend him 100%.


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Pamela J

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Joly M

Andrew represented me recently in a few difficult situations. I found him to be very professional, easily contactable and generally wanting a good outcome for me. I've passed his contact info to friends and if I ever need legal representation again I'll definitely be using his services.


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Ryan B

After making several calls to various law firms, I came across Andrew Williams who was quick to respond providing knowledgeable, honest and friendly legal advice. At all times I felt confident in Andrew's ability to defend the charges. The case went to trial with an outcome of not guilty. I was awarded full legal costs. Could not be happier.


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Matt K

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Wesley H

Of my limited experiences in the judicial system, I can’t rate Andrew Williams highly enough. He was fantastic on my day in court and was very straight up during my consultations. He is such an awesome person, and the best professional criminal lawyer I have ever encounter. Need help call Andrew.


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I would highly reccomend andrew for everyone no matter how big or small the case is!



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My personal experience with Andrew Williams was a pleasant one from day one. In the midst of a police raid and the inability to find legal representation I considered myself done for when Andrew took the time to call me back after I contacted his office (during which time he was in trial). Upon soliciting some legal advice, Andrew was straight with me and I made an appointment with him in which he clearly explained the seriousness of my case. After some time, when the matter was moved to the District Courts I was well aware that I would likely be looking at some jail time; the nature of the legal systems and the way in which bureaucracy works is an extremely draining and mentally exhausting process. However, Andrew kept me well informed at every step of the way and promptly wrote to prosecution at critical points outlining my circumstances.

Moving forward, on the sentence hearing day, a pivotal point of my life occured when I was given no immediate imprisonement and was offered an opportunity before the Judge, being legally represented by Andrew. At no one point did I feel like I was being fooled or not taken care of, Andrew Williams was honest and professional, however harsh and difficult it was to accept my circumstances at times. In ...

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I was charged with the offence of aggravated common assault. I engaged Andrew Williams to act for me.

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My wife and I were so glad that we chose Andrew Williams to handle our sons Reckless Driving charge. What a relief to know we have people like him around to help.

Besides a failure to indicate and cutting the corner of a very sharp S bend in the road all other allegations by Police were not substantiated. After using a previous Law firm that basically told us that it was the 2 Police Officers word against our son and that we were probably better to take the charge of Dangerous Driving that had been offered by Police for a plea of guilty. $2500 later we decided to find someone else that at least believed our sons version of events.

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Unhappy with my then representation, I went searching for a new criminal lawyer. Andrew responded quickly and professionally to my enquiry. It was quickly apparent during the first meeting that Andrew was knowledgeable, honest and was committed to getting us the best possible outcome. Andrew looked at all avenues available to me in a Magistrates Court matter. He negotiated on my behalf with the prosecution, attended 3 court hearings and defended my plea at a sentencing hearing. Andrew presented strong arguments in my defense and I was very pleased with a successful outcome. Andrew was also transparent and reasonable with his capped fee costing structure.


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