Possession and supply of illicit drugs will get you into trouble, being caught supplying drugs on multiple occasions attracts worse trouble. A special category of offence called “Ongoing Supply” is a particularly serious offence under Section 25A of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985. It carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or a fine of $385,000.


The Justice Legislation Amendment Bill (No2) 2019  which was assented to on 22 November 2019, will insert a new section 30C into Schedule 1, Table 1 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986.

The new changes mean that many of these ongoing supply charges will stay in the Local Court unless you or the prosecution elect to refer it up to the District Court. By keeping things in the Local Court, the maximum gaol term for this will be 2 years rather than 20 years if you plead guilty or are found guilty.


Ongoing supply was a “Strictly Indictable” offence that could not be sentenced in the Local Court but which had to be referred up to the District or Supreme Court. Think expensive barristers and time-consuming jury trials if you plead not guilty, so the stakes are higher.

The Local Court has lesser penalties and churns through its caseload in a much shorter time. If you plead not guilty it will be a Magistrate that makes the decision rather than a Jury or Judge. Running your case in the Local Court will take less time and will be considerably cheaper than running a trial in the District Court.


You are still able to appeal the severity of your sentence in the District Court; something less expensive and time consuming than appeals from the District Court to the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal (NSWCCA).

The District Court cannot make your sentence more severe without giving you a “Parker Warning.” The term a Judge uses to warn your lawyer that he or she is thinking of increasing the penalty. This gives you the chance to withdraw the appeal.


Everything gets cheaper and shorter in the Local Court. As a result, a not-guilty is more likely to plead out or run to a defended hearing rather than the prosecution withdrawing the charges.

It will cost you less to run hearing but that does not mean you should go it alone. It is essential that you have good advice and representation.

What the prosecution has to PROVE

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you:

  1. Supplied prohibited drugs (other than cannabis) on three or more separate occasions during any 30 day period, and
  2. Did so each time for a financial or material reward.

What this means is that it does not need to be the same drug you supplied on each occasion. You can be found guilty if you supply different drugs (other than cannabis) on each occasion during that 30 day period.


Maybe, because each case is slightly different. It is not unlawful to supply a prohibited drug if you are licensed or authorised under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966.  It is also not unlawful if you are authorised by the Department of Health to supply the drug for the purpose of scientific research or study.

It is a defence if the Prosecution cannot prove at least three separate occasions of supply for financial or material reward, however, the accused person can still be found guilty of supply for the individual offences (s 25A(4) Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985).

Standard criminal defences such as self-defence (or defence of another), necessity or duress may also apply.


Not necessarily, with that said, there are still significant gaol terms available to the Local Court for this type of offence. The longer gaol terms are generally reserved for the worse offending or repeat offenders


On a plea or finding of guilt, The Court has a range penalties available to it that can be tailored to your personal circumstances. They include not recording a conviction, fines, convictions without penalty, Conditional Release Orders (‘CRO’), Community Corrections Orders (‘CCO’), Intensive Corrections Orders (‘ICO’ (gaol served in the community) and full time custodial gaol.

Even in the local Court, the outcome for ongoing supply can still be life changing. Simply being charged can restrict you travelling internationally.


If you have been charged, or think you are going to be charged, then you need expert advice early on. Call Michael and his team of expert lawyers at National Criminal Lawyers on  02 9893 1889 |  0415 179 794


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