MILTON FIRMAN legal expert discusses here the offence of "Possession with intent to supply a Controlled Drug." in the UK.
The Accused must have "possession." But possession can be physical custody or control and mustt also include the vital element of "knowledge." You must know you are in possession.
If for example someone unbeknown to you, puts drugs in your pocket or in your car, and you know no nothing of this, you cannot be guilty of being in possession. But a mistake merely as to quality is no such defence.This would include being in possession of heroin believing it to be cannabis. That is hard luck on you!
If however the Accused believed that the substance was something entirely different, and believed that in good faith, he should be acquitted.
A Defendant is in possession if he has knowledge of its presence and some control over it.Possession of a drug is not dependent upon memory. As has been said in the case of Martindale, possession does not come and go.
There are Defences open to a Defendant to raise. For examplle, he might say he did not know the drugs were on his person.
, He might say he genuinely did not appreciate that it was drugs.He might have a defence that he was in the course of taking the substance into lawful custody.
He can defend possession on the basis he did not know that it was there - in a bedroom or car, for example.
As to the element of - intent to supply, there are reasonable inferences that the Court can draw.
Here are some examples:
1. Possession of a quantity inconsistent with personal use;
2. Possession of a variety of drugs which might suggest sale rather than consumption;
3. Drug related equipment nearby for example vweighing scales, bags or wraps of foil etc;
4. Money found on the Defendant;
5. Extravagant lifestyle
There are therefore two distinct elements to this charge.
Possession. An intention to supply. But the onus is at all times upon the Prosecution and no assumptions ought necessarily to be made merely because there are drugs near to the Defendant when he is arrested. The question of knowledge is paramount.
Sentencding is harsh for Class A in particular. As a matter of public pollicy alone, the Courts adopt a very stern view of this matter and the harm that the supply can utimately do to the end-user and society.