Music festivals have a heavily damaged reputation when it comes to drugs, with countless arrests at festivals in Australia every year.
With illegal substances becoming the norm in passionate festival goers lives, it is also associated with high numbers of overdoses, drug related incidents and even in some cases deaths.
There was research undertaken from Western Sydney University and UCRH (University Centre for Rural Health North Coast) in 2016, where at a popular music festival they surveyed 642 people aged between 18-30, with a overwhelming 73.4% of the survey participants admitting to using illegal substances within the previous 12 months
Young people at festivals are most at risk, often having no idea of the consequences in taking drugs, as it is only considered a recreational activity for them.
If someone is charged with a drug related crime it can often be crucial to seek for an experienced lawyer that can assist with what is to follow.
So what are the main drug offences?
There are two offence categories that are the most commonly broken, which are possession and supply, these both can be quite serious with multiple consequences depending on the type, quantity and intended use relating to the illegal substance charge.
• Possession – The possession of drugs either on their immediate person or located on their property (car, house, etc.), this charge is for people who have this drug for personal uses with no intent or actions that suggests distributing the substance.
• Supply – The supplying of illegal substances is where a person is found or is proven to be exchanging or selling drugs to another person, drug supply does not necessarily mean that money must be exchanged as it can involve exchanging for services or other items as payment
What penalties are there?
The consequences for drug related charges can vary within the different states in Australia and can often depend on the quantity and type of substance that is in question, but in NSW specifically, the maximum penalties can be up to:
• Possession (maximum penalty) – Being convicted of possession can have penalties of up to 2 years in prison and/or a $2,200 fine.
• Supply charges (maximum penalty) – Being convicted of supply can have penalties of up to life imprisonment and/or a $605,000 fine.
To avoid being charged with a high penalty it is always recommended to gain a professional solicitor that can represent and advise you towards a better case result.
What happens after being caught?
As music festivals are well known for their drug related reputation, police are often in large numbers within the festival grounds during that time.
Police are allowed to conduct a search on a person if they have a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that the person is hiding illegal substances, this can be via a sniffer dog indication or other reasons as long as it is a sufficient reason.
If a festival goer is found to be in the possession or supply of drugs, they can be charged accordingly, with their matter then taken to the court.
First time offenders are in most cases dealt with more leniency as compared to an offender with a large drug offence history, but it always come down to the seriousness of the crime itself, which involves the type, quantity and intention for the substance that the person is being charged for.
What can people at festivals do if caught with drugs?
If caught with drugs at a festival it is important to say as little as possible until having spoken with a lawyer, all that is needed for the police is a name and address, after that giving that information, the charged person can then politely decline to answer questions until they have sought sufficient legal advice.
Saying anything further can lead to further charges and incrimination, so it is absolutely essential to choose every word said with care.
What are my options in court?
if charged with drugs at a festival, before making any decisions regarding the charge, it is important to consult legal advice to best see the outcome options your case, there are usually 3 options available, being:
• Diversion – Where the person admits to the charges and asks for a diversion which is a way to deal with the charge outside of a courthouse, this is an option for first time offenders only and can lead to the guilty undertaking a drug related education program or community service in replacement of jail time or large fines.
• Guilty Plea – Where the person pleads guilty to the charge in court, though not ideal it can show cooperation and can result in a lighter charge than originally intended.
• Not Guilty Plea – Where the person pleads guilty to the charge in court, It is important to only do this if actually not guilty, there must be proof that the arrest mas a mistake or there were other circumstances that will clear the name.
This is why it is vital to seek out an experienced drug lawyer in Sydney, they can give advice and options for the case to yield the best possible result and ensure you are adequately represented.