On the spot fines for drug possession this Australia Day long weekend
The NSW Police Force will be able to issue on-the-spot fines of $400 for drug possession at three music festivals being held in Sydney over the Australia Day long weekend.
There are three music festivals across the Australia Day long weekend – Electric Gardens at Centennial Park, and Hardcore Til I Die and Rolling Loud at Sydney Showgrounds – but the new fines can be issued at any place in NSW from late on Friday 25 January 2019.
Dowson Turco’s crime team operates around the clock but also runs a free crime clinic every Thursday.
Ordinarily a person found with a small amount of illegal drugs in NSW will be issued a court attendance notice and will be required to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty before the Local Court of NSW. Most first time drug possession offenders who plead guilty and can demonstrate good character and mitigating circumstances then receive orders dismissing the charge pursuant to sections 9 and 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW).
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But often good behaviour bonds attach to those orders and the person has a “criminal record” for the duration of the good behaviour bond. This is because criminal record laws consider section 9 / section 10 orders dismissing charges as “convictions” when a good behaviour bond attaches and the record only becomes “spent” (expired) when the good behaviour bond ends.
Fines are not criminal records
Under the Criminal Procedure Regulation 2017 (NSW), payment of an infringement notice does not mean admitting criminal liability to the conduct alleged. And payment of the fine prevents any further criminal proceedings relating to the same conduct. That means that payment of an on-the-spot fine for drug possession will not lead to a criminal record or a finding of guilt.
This is hugely beneficial to offenders and will mean less drug possession matters clogging up NSW Local Courts, less drug offenders experiencing the stress of criminal court proceedings and reduced consequences in life with regard to the stigma of criminal records and the prospect of restrictions on entry to some foreign jurisdictions.
On the spot fines for small quantities of drugs
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Below is an extract of the proposed new law as it relates to small quantities of MDMA (the 3,4-Methylenedioxymethylamphetamine) and other drugs:
Beware of quantities
At the time of publishing this article, under the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 a small quantity of MDMA is 0.25 grams and a traffickable quantity is 0.75 grams, a small quantity of cocaine is 1 gram and a small quantity of gamma butyrolactone (known as “G” or “GHB”) is 10 grams.
Our crime team is available on email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 02 9519 3088 or mobile 0403 775 301.
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