Drug trafficking is an expansive term and a highly complex area of law. Whether you are charged with possession, supply, large-scale commercial distribution or production of illegal drugs or psychoactive substances, the consequences will inevitably impact on many aspects of your life and freedom.
The prices of drugs charged at street level in the UK are some of the highest in Europe, which means that the UK illegal drugs market is extremely attractive to criminals. The commercial distribution of drugs is by far the most lucrative stage in the process from the cultivation and production of the illicit drug to the point of final consumption, but if you are found guilty the penalties are harsh and the consequences life-changing.
The punishment, and subsequent consequences of drug trafficking, will depend on aggravating factors including the defendant’s culpability and harm associated with the offence, along with the quantity and type of drug involved. Supplying a small amount of Class C drug on a recreational basis could simple result in a fine but, at the other end of the scale, the importation or supplying of very large quantities of cocaine or other Class A drugs could result in a prison sentence well in excess of 10-20 years or even for life.
Other factors will be deliberated too—if you are found “dealing” or supplying drugs near a school or youth facility, the court will treat this as an aggravating factor and are likely to impose higher penalties. But whether you are given a fine or a prison sentence, the punishment will have some future implications.
Being found guilty of a drug trafficking offence will result in a criminal record. This can impact many areas of your life:
Having a criminal record can be detrimental to current and future employment. If you receive a custodial sentence dismissal from your current employer is more than likely as you will no longer be able to perform your contractual duties. Potential employers may carry out Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on job applications, but if you are not specifically asked about previous convictions there is generally no legal duty to disclose it. Furthermore, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act states that all cautions and convictions may eventually become spent, except for prison sentences of over four years and all public protection sentences regardless of the length of time. Quite a few professions, for example doctors, solicitors and teachers are exempt from the Act and your criminal record will severely affect the likelihood of employment.
A criminal record may stop you from enrolling on a course or at the university of your choice. Many universities will ask you to declare criminal convictions on your application and consider it separately from your academic achievements. The nature of the offence(s), time since the offence was committed and the potential impact on fellow students and staff will all be considered, and some universities and educational facilities will refuse applications on the grounds of the crime committed.
A criminal record may cause you difficulties when travelling abroad. Some countries have entry restrictions and will not even let you in as a tourist.
A criminal record can also impact mortgage applications and insurance policies, as well as potential psychological implications of shame and embarrassment.
Many clients don’t appreciate that at the end of a case where they may have been convicted of a drug supply related offence, there are likely to be confiscation related proceedings. Due to the large amounts of money associated with the illegal drugs market, it is assumed that those who get involved have often made large sums of money. This money and the proceeds of any criminal activity can be the subject of confiscation proceedings, whereby the Prosecution ask the Court to seize and forfeit money, property, houses or possessions that it is felt were earned through the illegal supply of drugs. This can be devastating for the families of those affected by these far-reaching proceedings. The law surrounding confiscation proceedings is complex and technical, and can extend the life-span of a case by many months. However, what many clients don’t appreciate or fully understand is that decisions and sometimes the outcome of the confiscation hearing is determined by how the actual case was dealt with. This is the reason why experts should be dealing with the case from the outset, so that a complete grasp can be had of all the issues, not just those immediately facing someone in that position.
The complexity of the law and consideration of many aggravating factors means that the consequences of drug trafficking vary with every case. Expert legal advice is required to ensure your case is considered in detail and that the most favourable outcome is obtained on your behalf.