The Seriousness of Drug Offences in Western Australia Couldn't be Clearer

Drug offences are serious in WA. Man sitting with his head in his hands.

Some clients who come to the Law Offices of Andrew Williams charged with drug-related offences are unaware of the very serious and fragile predicament that they face.

In 2016 the Supreme Court of Appeal of WA highlighted that an ‘overwhelming majority’ of people convicted of offences relating to the possession, sale, supply or manufacture of prohibited drugs are sentenced to immediate imprisonment. Further that suspended terms of imprisonment may only be imposed if there are exceptional circumstances.

Serious drug offences contribute to, a very significant proportion of criminal offences committed in WA. This might be because of the strong financial incentive to deal in illicit drugs, or it might be because a drug user acts in circumstances where their own lives are dictated by the use of drugs and there is a need to fund or secure a supply of drugs. In any event the maximum penalties provided by law governing the possession, sale, supply and manufacture of prohibited drugs offences highlight the serious with which parliament consider this kind of offending. Consequently, sentencing hearings, particularly in the superior courts of Western Australia, involve a huge emphasis on general deterrence.

What Does “General Deterrence” Mean

‘General deterrence’ aims to discourage the whole community - not just the individual offender - from committing similar types of crimes. By imposing tough sentences for drug related offences the court's aim is to send a message to others that if they engage in the same kind of behaviour they too can expect a similar kind of result when being dealt with by the court.

General deterrence is the reason why the Court of Appeal in WA has said that the incentives to participate in the illicit drug distribution network must be counterbalanced by a clear and certain understanding that involvement in the illicit drug trade will ordinarily result in a penalty of immediate imprisonment.

What about The Personal Circumstances of the Offender?

General deterrence is the paramount sentencing consideration in relation to serious drug charges. The personal circumstances of an offender are always secondary in importance when the court is considering the sentence it will impose. This means things like young age, good character, an absence of other relevant convictions and steps towards rehabilitation prior to sentencing will not ordinarily make a case ‘exceptional’ and will not ordinarily result in the suspension of a term of imprisonment.

Get Legal Representation

If you are facing drug charges, you are in a very serious situation and facing significant penalties if you are found guilty. This means getting in touch with an experienced criminal lawyer to discuss your options and get the best advice and representation for your case is of paramount importance.

Contact the Law Office of Andrew Williams for advice and representation on (08) 9278 2575 or enquire online today.

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PLEASE NOTE: The material in this blog post is for informational use only and should not be construed as legal advice. For answers to your questions regarding this or other topics, please contact a professional legal representative.

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