Traffic Methamphetamine, Possess Methamphetamine, Use Methamphetamine, Possess Prohibited Weapon, Possess Property Suspected of Being the Proceeds of Crime. Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.
There were 3 suspects in a car. Police intercepted the car and the owner of the vehicle gave police permission to search the vehicle. This was not a good decision. The police found two bags containing a total of 12 grams of what was alleged to be methamphetamine, a knife, $1 800, other bags and scales.
We acted for two of the co-accused. In their recorded interviews, Client 1 denied all Trafficking but admitted Possession. Client 2 denied all allegations except Use Methamphetamine. Usually we would not act for both co-accused as this can create a conflict of interest. In this case though, the clients’ instructions were identical. Client 1 said the drugs were his, and Client 2 said the bags the drugs were found in belonged to Client 1, so their stories agreed.
Our major challenges were in relation to client 1 and trafficking. The prima facie quantity in relation to trafficking methamphetamine is 3 grams. This means that, without any evidence to the contrary, a magistrate could convict the accused based on possession of the weight alone.
However the presence of a traffickable quantity of drugs is not, on its own, enough to convict. The Magistrate must still be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the possession was for trafficking purposes. The presence of bags and scales in the car were certainly not helpful in this regard.
Following a detailed written submission to the prosecution focusing on the lack of direct evidence to indicate trafficking (i.e. no surveillance, phone records, text messages or admissions by any of the co-accused), we offered to plead guilty to all Client 1’s charges except the trafficking charge. Given that client 1 was taking responsibility, we asked that all Client 2’s charges be withdrawn except the Use Drug of Dependence, which he had admitted to in his recorded interview.
We asked the informant to consider a Diversion recommendation for Client 2 (i.e. the matter would be effectively dismissed). The prosecutor agreed. When the matter came to Court, Client 1 received a $2000 fine without conviction. Client 2 received a Diversion and kept his record clean.
Considering the quantity of the drugs found, this was an amazing outcome for Client 1. The result was a culmination of good preparation, the right prosecutor, the right magistrate on the day and considered and competent representation by Dribbin & Brown.
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