What Is The Sentence For The Importation Of Drugs?
The importation of drugs and the importation of controlled drugs are viewed as serious crimes which can often lead to harsh sentences. In fact, the importation of drug sentencing guidelines means that those found guilty face very long prison sentences and unlimited fines.
Drug offences in the UK are rarely taken lightly, but the importation of drugs is handled with an even more serious approach as they are at the centre of illegal drug trades.
What Type Of Actions Are Considered Importation Of Drugs?
According to Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, it is a criminal offence to bring into or take out of the UK a controlled drug.
Due to the crime being incredibly severe in the UK’s courts, understanding the type of actions that count as the importation of drugs or the importance of controlled drugs is key to avoiding falling into hot water.
If you’re found to be bringing steroids (class C) to the UK for personal use, you could be handed a financial penalty and customs record as it’s illegal to import or export steroids. Class B drugs are also illegal to import or export in the UK, such as knowingly concealing a class B drug inside of your bags or suitcase when you’re travelling.
Class A drugs should also not be imported into the UK, as even if you’re found to be unknowingly bringing a large quantity of a Class A drug inside of a vehicle, you can be charged.
Also, if you’re found to be unloading port prohibited or restricted goods from any vehicle (when owned customs duty hasn’t been paid) or removing restricted goods from a wharf or transit location is an offence. It is also an offence to be linked with these activities, even if the full importation isn’t completed and the efforts are abandoned.
It’s also an offence if you’re found to be smuggling illegal drugs by concealing the true nature of the restricted goods, whether it is disguising their appearance, or labelling them as a legal product. Another action that is considered importation of drugs is taking possession of illegal drugs and aiming to defraud or to evade customs duty or avoid any prohibition or restriction, all with intent or to be ‘knowingly concerned’.
What Is Conspiracy To Import Drugs Into The UK?
In the UK, drug offences surrounding the importation of controlled drugs and the importation of illegal drugs include conspiracy.
To be charged with conspiracy to import drugs into the UK means you’re considered to have played a role in a wider criminal conspiracy to bring illegal substances or controlled drugs into the country.
Conspiracy is such a severe offence, and the law is so strict that conspiracy is actually considered to be an agreement where just two or more people agree to carry their criminal scheme into effect, with the very agreement being determined as a criminal act in itself.
Sentencing Guidelines For The Importation Of Drugs
Due to the huge impact, the importation of drugs can have across the country, down to a person by person level, the sentencing guidelines for the importation of drugs are harsh.
Sentences can range from community service sentences to life imprisonment. If the charge is more severe, guilty offenders can expect to receive a sentence ranging from 3 and a half years, up to 16 years in custody, with a maximum of a life sentence.
Broken down by the class of the drug found to be imported into the UK:
Importing class A drugs: Maximum sentence of life imprisonment with a recommended sentencing range of 3.5-16 years’ custody.
Importing class B drugs: Maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine with a recommended sentencing range of 12 weeks to 10 years’ custody.
Importing class C drugs: Maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine with a recommended sentencing range of a community order up to 8 years custody.
A Guilty Plea Can Reduce An Importation Of Drugs Sentence
In the UK, sentences can be reduced by up to a third of the penalty for the crime if the alleged offender pleads guilty to the charge they’re facing.
How Does The Court Decide On The Seriousness Of The Offence?
The courts and the sentencing council use all information they have available to them to decide on the seriousness of the importation of drugs offence. However, the seriousness of the offence changes depending on what the information depicts. The sentencing doesn’t always reflect the seriousness as there are only guidelines.
The type of information and factors that will influence the decision behind how serious the offence is includes:
- The role played in the offence
- How remorseful the alleged offender is
- Any previous convictions
- How cooperative the alleged offender was
- If the activity was originally legitimate
- The overall reputation of the alleged offender
- Whether you are the sole or primary carer for related dependents
- It the alleged offender has a learning disability, mental disorder or any serious medical conditions that require long term, urgent or intensive treatment
Factors That May Reduce The Sentence
There are mitigating aspects of importation of a drug case that can change the outcome, reducing the sentence handed to the offender.
These often include the age, previous record and the overall health of the defendant. But, some cases will also take into account if any genuine remorse has been shown, their overall character and if any efforts have been made to address their behaviour.
How Long Will The Offence Stay On A Criminal Record?
The offence for the importation of drugs and the importation of controlled drugs will remain on your record and be able to be seen by law enforcement and any CRB checks.
However, the length of time the charge will remain on your record will depend on the nature of the crime, the sentence handed to you and any other significant factors surrounding the case. For example, if the penalty is a conditional caution, the charge will remain on the offender’s record for three months. But, if the penalty was a prison sentence of four years or more, the charge will never be removed from the offender’s criminal record.
What To Do If You’re Arrested For The Importation Of Drugs
If you’ve been arrested for the importation of drugs, you must seek expert legal advice and support immediately. The impact of a guilty verdict can be life-changing, and it’s in your best interests to be guided throughout the process if you’re to avoid a sentence that is on the harsher end of the spectrum.
Law enforcement is trained to get as much information from you as possible to incriminate you with the charge you face. It can be a daunting thing to face, and it’s easy to trip up on your words and potentially land yourself in trouble that could have been avoided if you had legal support to hand.
Government’s 10′ Year Drug Plan
Drugs have harmed and continue to harm people’s lives from a surface level, right into their day-to-day experiences.
As a result, the government and its courts are taking drug offences, especially the importation of drugs, very seriously. As it stands, the importation of drugs is at the heart of all drug problems, and being able to stall or stop the provision of drugs is a step in the right direction.
The government has since formed a 10-year plan. This includes building more treatment centres, a bigger budget to commission substance misuse treatment services and harm reduction interventions and, of course, harsher sentences for those involved in the production, importation and distribution of illegal and controlled substances.
How Can DPP Law’s Solicitors Help?
DPP Law’s team of experts have over three decades of experience handling sensitive, complex, and serious cases involving the importation of drugs within the UK and know how to get the best results possible.
Facing a drug importation offence charge is extremely distressing due to the potential sentence you could be facing, especially when you must address the courts. With difficult to understand processes and overly formal and long procedures to follow, having an expert team at your side will mean you navigate the situation smoothly, reducing stress and worry.
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Speak To An Expert At DPP Law Today
Get in touch with DPP Law’s expert team of solicitors to make the process smoother. They can provide you with all the information you might need about drug offences and the importation of drugs, and work with you to provide you with the best defence.