What is the difference between the different drug offences and what will the Crown Prosecution Service consider when deciding to charge someone?
Possession: When an individual is unlawfully in physical possession or in control of any substance, and knew that he/she was in position of that item even if he/she did not know that it was a drug.
Supply: This includes distribution and does not require proof of payment or reward. In R v Maginnis 1987 it was stated that 'supply requires more than the mere transfer of physical control.'
Production/Cultivation: This is where the suspect has participated in the process of producing by manufacture, cultivation, or any other method. The CPS will consider whether there is actual or indirect participation in the production. Converting one form of controlled drug into another may amount to production, hence one may be charged with this offence [R v Russell (P.A.) 1992].
How can a solicitor assist?
The different drug offences explained above carry different sentences. The sentence for drugs related offences range between fines to lengthy custodial sentences depending on the drug and the nature of the offence, for example possession would carry a lesser sentence than for example supply and production of a controlled drug. Given the various types of drug offences and the possibility of more lengthy sentences it would be in the interests of the individual to seek legal representation.
Individuals facing a charge relating to a drug's offence would be entitled to free legal representation under the government's legal aid scheme should they qualify. Again the individual would qualify if they are earning under a certain amount, and if it is seen to be in the interests of justice that the individual be represented. Most of the time if the individual is of a good character, or the offence involves a large quantity of drugs it would be seen to be in the interests of justice that the individual be represented.