Last updated 21 December 2016

The Drug Court

The Queensland Government recently committed to reinstating a Drug Court. However, an operating Drug Court is unlikely before the second half of 2017.

The Magistrates Court

Legal advice to determine whether the matter can be dealt with summarily in the Magistrates Court should be obtained by a person who is charged with a drug offence. It is preferable to have the matter dealt with by the Magistrates Court rather than the District or Supreme Court because in the latter courts the risk of custody is greater.

The following offences (or attempts to commit such offences) in the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 (Qld) (Drugs Misuse Act) can be dealt with summarily in the Magistrates Court if the person, on conviction of the offence, is not liable to more than 15 years imprisonment (s 13 Drugs Misuse Act):

  • supplying dangerous drugs (s 6)
  • receiving or possession property obtained from trafficking or supplying (in certain circumstances) (s 7)
  • producing dangerous drugs (s 8)
  • possessing dangerous drugs (s 9)
  • possessing, supplying or producing relevant substances or things (ss 9A–9C)
  • possessing things (s 10(1))
  • permitting use of place (s 11)
  • being party to offences committed outside Queensland (s 12).

In addition, a person charged with possession of a dangerous drug, who is liable on conviction to more than 15 years imprisonment, may still have the charge dealt with in the Magistrates Court if the prosecution does not allege that the possession of the drug was for a commercial purpose (s 14).

Persons prosecuted summarily under these offence provisions are liable, on conviction, to not more than three years imprisonment (ss 13(4), 14(3) Drugs Misuse Act). Whether or not indictable charges are dealt with summarily is at the election of the prosecution (s 118(2) Drugs Misuse Act). A magistrate may decide not to determine a charge (s 118(4) Drugs Misuse Act) including if the magistrate considers that the charge is too serious and may require a sentence of longer than three years.

Trafficking offences can only be dealt with in the District or Supreme courts.