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Supplying Drugs of Dependence to Children

It is an offence in Victoria to supply a drug of dependence to a child.[1] Examples of actions that may lead to a charge of supply a drug of dependence to a child include providing cannabis to a 13-year-old child for their own use. Similarly, if you provide methylamphetamine to a 15-year old to pass onto their brother, you could also be charged with ’supply of a drug of dependence to a child’.

There is also a Commonwealth offence of ‘Supplying controlled drugs to a child’.[2] You may be charged with a Commonwealth offence where the offence falls under Commonwealth jurisdiction (e.g. the supply took place at an Airport). If you are found guilty under the Commonwealth offence, the maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment.[3]

It is noted that this article will focus on the Victorian offence of ‘Supply of a drug of dependence to a child’.

Elements of the Supplying a Drug of Dependence to a Child Offence

In order to establish the charge, the Police are required to prove each of the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. A substance was supplied;
  2. That substance was a drug of dependence;
  3. The person who received the drug was a child.[4]

‘Supply’ means to provide, deliver or give, regardless if any money is received for the drug.[5] ‘A drug of dependence’ can include, but is not limited to prescription medication, cannabis, ecstasy, heroin, methylamphetamine and opiates. ‘Child’ means a person under the age of 18 years.[6]

Possible Penalties

If you are found guilty of supplying a drug of dependence to a child, the maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment and a significant fine. If the supply was found to have taken place at a school or at a public place within 500 metres of a school the maximum penalty increases to 20 years imprisonment (unless you were also a child at the time of the alleged supply).[7]

However, a judge will take into account a broad range of circumstances before making any sentencing determinations.

Defences to Supplying a Drug of Dependence to a Child

You will have a defence to your supply a drug of dependence to a child charge if you were legally authorised to do so under the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 (Vic).

If you are charged with supply of a drug of dependence to a child in a school, or in a public place within 500 metres of a school, you will have a defence if at the time of the alleged supply you held an honest and reasonable belief that the child was over 18 years of age.[8]

You will also have a defence if the substance you supplied to the child was not considered to be a ‘drug of dependence’ and was in fact another substance. You can also argue a factual dispute, such as that you did not ‘supply’ the drug of dependence to the child (e.g. if the child instead stole the substance). You also have the defence of mistaken identity if it was not you who supplied the drug of dependence to the child.

However, it is imperative that you contact an experienced legal practioner as soon as possible so that the best defence can be identified, based on the individual circumstances of your case.

If you have been charged with a drug offence then contact Leanne Warren today to discuss your defence. First 30 minute consultation is free of charge: 03 9670 6066 / info@leannewarren.com.au

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[1] Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) s 71B.
[2] Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) s 309.2
[3] Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) s 309.2(1).
[4] Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) s 71B.
[5] Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) s 4(1).
[6] Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) s 4(1).
[7] Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) s 71B(1A).
[8] Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) s 71B(1A)(4).

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