What’s New?

2024 has brought about a lot of changes within the legal framework and system, some of which are commended and others not so much. One major change is seen to deal with the response of police on minor drug offences.

This scheme sees police given the opportunity to issue up to two (2) Criminal Infringement Notices (CIN) per person for minor offences such as “to adults for personal drug use and small quantity drug possession offences”.

These CIN’s carry fines of $400, but under this scheme these fines can be waived through the individual partaking in “tailored drug and alcohol intervention”. However, if the program is not completed, the offender must still pay the fine and hence a conviction is recorded.

It can be argued that providing such opportunities and encouraging intervention is a major step in the positive push for change and rehabilitation, effectively limiting reoffending, something which could plausibly not be seen in the previous system.

Further, it is claimed that limiting contact of individuals with the formal legal system, could further limit reoffending.

What You Should Remember?

  • In the event that you don’t do the rehabilitation process and pay the fine, you are convicted of a criminal offence as it is seen as a form of admitting guilt. This will remain on your record for a long time and could affect travel and employment opportunities.
  • If multiple offences are recorded, each one is its own conviction and could be its own charge.
  • You should always get a lawyer and seek appropriate advice as no matter how simple a case may seem, the ramifications could be great both on your conviction, sentencing and future. Contact one of our Criminal Defence Solicitors and book your free consultation

What Does This Policy Exclude?

It has been made clear that such a scheme and opportunity would not be provided to serious drug offences such as following offences:

  • Drug supply, dealing or trafficking; or
  • Drug production or manufacture; or
  • Previously convicted drug dealers; or
  • People who have large quantities of drugs; or
  • People who have already received two Criminal Infringement Notices for drug possession offences.


Why has this been changed?

This major step has been taken in an attempt to divert the focus on the rehabilitation and treatment of the offenders, as through the traditional system, such that low level offenders would be required to go to Court, and go through a lengthy process. In this new system, there is limited contact with the formal legal system, rather more contact with rehabilitation services.

Another major reason behind such a change has been to lower contact of First Nation peoples with the formal legal system.

It is a well known fact that Indigenous people are unfortunately overrepresented within such a system. Data shows that from the period of 2008 to 2018, the imprisonment rate for Indigenous People rose 45% Australia wide, as compared to an increase of only 29% for Non-Indigenous people. Further data shows First Nations people are 20.4% more likely to not be granted bail.

Through this new initiative it can be argued that the health of the low level offender is placed at upmost priority amongst other facts. With the Minister for Health, Ryan Park claiming “Drug use and dependence are very much health issues and ones that are far better addressed through health support outside the Courts and criminal justice systems.”

Police Discretion

A large aspect of this new scheme which is important to remember is that police is given the power to use discretion when applying Criminal Infringement Notices rather then the traditional route, essentially meaning that such a route of rehabilitation is not guaranteed for anyone.

Minister for Police and Counter-terrorism Yasmin Catley stated “It is not mandatory for the Police to issue an on-the-spot fine – this is another tool in their kit and police retain their discretion to deal with the matter as appropriate, including proceeding to court.”

While Police Discretion is critical in a variety of circumstances such as when quick actions are to be made, and in situations where warnings are provided for low level offences. However, such discretion also holds a great deal of limitations and risks, such as Police abuse of power in deciding when to apply discretion, lack of fairness and risking the inclusion of personal bias in police decision making.

This was seen through a prior scheme targeted at achieving similar outcomes, found that between 2013 and 2017, 82.55% of all Indigenous and First Nations People found with a non-indictable amount of cannabis were made to go through the complicated Court system, as compared to only 52.29% of Non-Indigenous people. This is a prime example of when Police discretion can ultimately lead to lack of fairness and equality.

It is critical to remember that no matter the situation, it is best to contact a solicitor to receive advice on how best to handle your situation. Click here to Contact Us now and Book a Free Consultation with one of our many skilled Solicitors.

What To Remember

  • The ability to issue CIN’s instead of going through the traditional Court proceedings is up to the decision of the police and is not guaranteed, which means a fair minded person would not use such a scheme as a safety net.
  • Remember to seek legal advice, as a skilled Criminal Defence Lawyer will be able to tell you if your charge can be defended using case law. Click here to see the services which the Lawyers here at National Criminal Lawyers provide in relation to drugs.

Improvements To Be Made

Whilst it can be found that the scheme in itself is extremely beneficial in value to providing support and help to low level offenders who may be struggling with drug issues, it relies heavily on the appropriate and fair administration and treatment by the members of the Police when applying discretion.

Improvements can also be made through implementing more schemes targeting specific disadvantaged groups within the legal system such as that of First Nations and Indigenous People.

We would love to hear your opinions and whether you believe improvements do or no not need to be made!

It is important to seek legal advice no matter what kind of trouble you are in, a specialist criminal lawyer will be able to assist you at all times, aiming to provide you the best outcome possible. Book a free consultation with us now by clicking here.

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