Conspiracy to sell drugs is an offence that can come with a stiff punishment. This article provides detailed guidance on the typical sentencing for this offence.

What is the sentence for Conspiracy to sell drugs in 2020?

Conspiracy to sell drugs is an offence that is taken very seriously in UK law courts. It may sometimes be referred to as ‘conspiracy to supply drugs’. The term ‘conspiracy’ is defined by two or more people planning and plotting to do something, in this case, to sell drugs.

Depending on what role you place, conspiracy to sell drugs is an offence that can result in being handed a stiff penalty, quite often, this is in the form of a term of imprisonment.

Being under investigation for any crime can be stressful. If you have found out that you may be charged or arrested for conspiracy to sell drugs, or that the police believe you’re involved in the offence, you’ll most likely be feeling worried.

The best action for you to take now is to seek legal advice. The earlier you take legal advice, the better the outcome can be for you. You’ll be less likely to say or do the wrong thing, and it will also give your lawyers a more extended period to work on crafting your defence strategy, should you need it.

There are some cases where our lawyers have had a case of conspiracy to sell drugs dismissed before it is heard in Court. Of course, being imprisoned and having to live with a criminal record can be hard for anybody. It can negatively impact the relationship with loved ones and family and in some cases stop your career in its tracks. Dependents can be left struggling without a decent income to pay for rent, mortgage or food.

We have put together some questions and answers that people in your position will typically ask. The benefit of reading these is that you’ll be far more aware of what’s involved when an offence of this nature has been committed. If you don’t see something you want to know, then get in touch with us as we are always happy to help.

More about conspiracy to sell drugs

It’s important to note that the term ‘conspiracy’, means to agree, and in law, this is interpreted widely. Due to it not being a word that is defined by legislation it can be understood very widely.

Even making the simplest of agreement noises or being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be interpreted as being in agreement and therefore ‘conspiring’ to commit an offence.

Let’s explore some symbolic acts that are categorised as ‘conspiracy to sell drugs’ so that you can see why your situation may fall into a similar position.

The actions of conspirators that can result in prosecution include:

Driving a car to pick up bags of cannabis – for instance, you drive to Wales and collect a sports holdall of marijuana. The act of driving a vehicle is not an offence; however, the act of managing the pick up of cannabis for you or somebody else to sell is.

Being involved in planning the crime – even if you’re not planning to take part in the crime, the mere act of projecting the misconduct could see you charged with conspiracy.

Participation in the deal – for example, there are many roles you could play in this act. You might be the financier, the financial director, the courier, agent, look-out, go-between or sales manager or work on the division of bulk drugs. Other roles included may be weighing, packaging, pricing or advertising.

It’s not even necessary to have the drugs on you to be prosecuted for the offence of conspiracy to sell drugs. This is why you must seek expert legal help immediately.

What is the average sentence for conspiracy to sell drugs?  

Every drug-related offence, such as the supply, making and selling of drugs, are penalised heavily by the courts. Sentences can be extended to as much as life imprisonment. There may also be other conditions applied such as payment of a fine, depending on what happened, what your role was and what the outcome of the crime was.

Even having drugs on your person can lead to a sentence that is as long as seven years in prison plus payment of an unlimited fine.

The penalty is chosen by the judge and will reflect what you did. The decision will depend on what you did regarding harm or damage and what that may potentially have been.

How does a court decide on the seriousness of the conspiracy to sell drugs offence for sentencing purposes?

Anyone who finds themselves in the position of being accused of conspiracy to sell drugs will be concerned about what the outcome of a court case might be. You may even be put into prison for an extended period which could affect your ability to provide for your family. Loved ones will have the shame of having to visit you in prison, and you won’t be able to enjoy your regular home life. It can be frightening in prison, and you’ll be living with criminals.

There are several factors involved in deciding what your sentence should be. We have taken an excerpt from the Sentencing Guidelines to give you an understanding of what factors are taken into consideration when determining what punishment should be issued to a person convicted of this crime.

Culpability demonstrated by offender’s role

One or more of these characteristics may demonstrate the offender’s role. These lists are not exhaustive.

Leading role

  • directing or organising buying and selling on a commercial scale;
  • substantial links to, and influence on, others in a chain;
  • close links to original source;
  • expectation of substantial financial gain;
  • uses business as cover;
  • abuses a position of trust or responsibility, for example prison employee, medical professional.

Significant role

  • operational or management function within a chain;
  • involves others in the operation whether by pressure, influence, intimidation or reward;
  • motivated by financial or other advantage, whether or not operating alone;
  • some awareness and understanding of scale of operation;
  • supply, other than by a person in a position of responsibility, to a prisoner for gain without coercion.

Lesser role

  • performs a limited function under direction;
  • engaged by pressure, coercion, intimidation;
  • involvement through naivety/exploitation;
  • no influence on those above in a chain;
  • very little, if any, awareness or understanding of the scale of operation;
  • if own operation, absence of any financial gain, for example joint purchase for no profit, or sharing minimal quantity between peers on non-commercial basis.

As explained above, every case is unique, and there is no guarantee on what the outcome might be. However, the general process should be that you appoint an experienced legal representative as soon as you are informed that you are being charged. You can then take advice on how to navigate the case that could be complex and frightening.

Once the legal representative talks with you, they will be able to examine what evidence there is against you. Your lawyer can then either work on having your charge dismissed or have it reduced to a lesser charge. For example, a lesser charge that would come with a smaller sentence is the ‘possession of a controlled drug’.

What are some of the mitigating factors that might reduce the conspiracy to sell drugs sentence?

Certain aspects of a case are known as the mitigating aspects which can influence the sentence that a judge gives. The following are some of the other factors considered when the Court decides which sentence to give in cases of conspiracy to sell drugs. They will look at:

  • Your previous conviction
  • Your level of remorse
  • Your level of cooperation with the investigation
  • Whether the activity you took part in was originally legitimate
  • Your reputation / good character
  • Whether you have any serious medical conditions that require long term, urgent or intensive treatment
  • Whether you have a learning disability or a mental disorder
  • Whether you are the sole or primary carer for related dependents

Is it possible to reduce a sentence for conspiracy to sell drugs with a guilty plea?

In recent years, a number of changes have been made to the sentencing system in the UK to save the court time and cost and to protect witnesses from the stress of needlessly going through a trial. For offenders aged 18 and over, pleading guilty early on in a case can reduce a sentence by as much as one third (maximum). The later the plea is entered, the smaller the reduction.

  • ‘Early on’ refers to ‘the first stage of the proceedings’ and means anytime up to and including the first hearing at the Magistrates Court or Crown Court for indictable offences.
  • If a plea is entered 14 days after the first hearing, for example, the maximum level of reduction is just 20% or one fifth of the sentence. For indictable offences, the limit for a guilty plea to be made is within 28 days after the prosecutor has stated compliance with section 3 of CPIA 1996 and serving disclosure; although the decision is ultimately in the hands of the Judge who has discretion to apply whatever credit is deemed appropriate.
  • After these times there is a sliding scale of credit applied. This goes down to one tenth on the first day of the trial and to zero if entered during the course of the trial. In theory, the ten percent could be given if the plea is issued after the opening speeches on the first day, but prior to any witness evidence being heard.
  • If the accused does not want to plead guilty, then it’s important for the solicitor to regularly inform the Court throughout the trial of the reasons why the client’s plea is not guilty.

What are some of the other consequences of conspiracy to sell drug offence?

Ancillary Orders

A court can also make ancillary orders on a defendant if they are found guilty and convicted of an offence. These are extra elements that can be added to a sentence and include additional restrictions or requirements that affect a dependent’s finances, property or activity.

The range of ancillary orders for possession of indecent image convictions include the following:

·         An injunction to prevent drug dealing

·         Confiscation order

·         Restraint or cash seizure orders

·         Victim’s surcharge

In addition, the Court may demand payment of the following if the accused is convicted:

Payment of costs applied for by the prosecutors

Although the police meet some of the costs involved in the prosecution, the costs of investigation are typically sought from the convicted. These may include the costs of:

  • The work done in obtaining sufficient evidence for prosecution either at the initial stage or later at the request of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
  • Seeking medical or expert evidence as part of the investigation, (where a witness is required to attend Court, the cost of the attendance falls on the CPS).
  • Re-interviewing witnesses
  • The entire costs of the prosecutor, including fees for the use of external Barristers used by the CPS, can be recovered from the defendant, subject to means. At the end of the case, the prosecutor under The Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 will request the Judge to order a sum to be paid for the costs incurred by the prosecutor in bringing the prosecution.

Victims surcharges

The term victims’ surcharges can be explained as paying compensation to a fund for victims and can range between £20 to £170 depending on what sentence you were given at conviction.

How sentences can be added to national information databases

There are several national databases that hold information about individuals and any allegations made about them, their criminal and court records. These include the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) which was previously known as the CRB (Criminal Record Bureau) and the Police National Computer (PNC).  Depending on what happened, whether the accused is convicted and what sentence was issued, the accused may be added to one or all these databases. Their purpose is to provide information to potential employers and to regulate the ability to take part in certain activities.

If your case progresses to Court and you are convicted of conspiracy to sell drugs, your conviction will be noted on your CRB / police record. The period of the endorsement will depend on the nature and length of your sentence.

Below are details on how long you will be listed as holding a criminal record if convicted. This is something very serious to consider when it comes to future employment. The term ‘spent’ refers to when your name can be removed from the databases.

Rehabilitation Period
(the time it takes for the sentence to become ‘spent’)
Sentence Adult (aged 18+) at time of conviction Young person (aged under 18) at time of conviction
Prison sentences of more than 4 years Sentence is never spent Sentence is never spent
Prison sentences of more than 2.5 years (30 months) but less than 4 years Sentence length 7 years Sentence length 3.5 years
Prison sentences of more than 6 months but less than 2.5 years (30 months) Sentence length +4 years Sentence length +2 years
Prison sentences of less than 6 months Sentence length + 2 years Sentence length +18 months
Conditional Discharge Length of order Length of order
Absolute Discharge None None
Conditional Caution 3 months 3 months
Simple Caution / Youth Caution None – immediately ‘spent’ None – immediately ‘spent’
Other Including Compensation Order, Supervision Order, Bind Over, Hospital Order Length of the order / once compensation is paid Length of the order / once compensation is paid

How Can Stuart Miller Solicitors Help?

Fortunately, Stuart Miller Solicitors has had significant experience at handling the defence in cases of conspiracy to sell drugs. We’ve been representing the accused for over 30 years, and during this time we have developed an impressive network of professional legal support.

For example, our relationships with barristers, QCs and expert witnesses, including forensic analysts, is extraordinary. Our legal minds are some of the best in the country. Not only are they determined to win every case, but they know the law inside out and stay current with all changes.

Having worked with many clients who have been accused of committing a drug-related crime, including conspiracy to sell drugs, we can assure you that we will typically get you a better result than anybody else in the legal field.

In some cases, we may even get you off the case entirely. One of our well-established processes is to put the police under pressure to conclude their investigation so that your life is not put on hold indefinitely. If your finances are frozen, we may be able to get the restraint varied or removed.

What will happen when I instruct a drugs conspiracy lawyer?

As soon as you instruct us to take on your case, we can start work on discovering why you are being accused. When we make some headway with details of your case, we can then get stuck into creating an effective defence strategy that is applied to your advantage. We have handled many conspiracy to sell drugs cases.

Once we take on your case, you’ll experience the feeling of great peace and ease. Our reputation has taken a long time and a lot of work to develop, but once you start working with us, you’ll see why and how that’s happened. Our exemplary customer service is an example of what we can do.

The legal professionals that we work with can investigate and carefully examine all evidence, including telephones and other digital devices for proof that you weren’t where you are accused of being at certain specific dates and times. This in itself can make all the difference to the outcome of your case.

Arrest & Interview

Taking the guidance of an experienced specialist drug offences solicitor can provide you with protection against the police and their attempts at securing a conviction against you. The police are well trained with their interview techniques and will be going all out to help you to incriminate yourself.

Besides, the police will be requesting a search warrant so that you can see what you have at home or work, that they can add to their collection of evidence. They will be looking through all your personal effects and communication devices.

Allow us to recommend again that under no circumstances must you attend a police interview without a competent and experienced drug offences solicitor at your side. Everything you do and say will be recorded as the police seek to build further evidence.

Fortunately, Stuart Miller Solicitors have in-depth experience at creating the most potent defence strategies, and you’ll get a far more favourable outcome from using our legal team to defend you. In addition to drug experts, we have translators, mobile phone experts, computer experts and tablet experts and can handle international crimes and multi-jurisdictions.

Would you like to discuss your case before instructing us?

Get in touch today, and we can speak with you about your case. Your no-obligation chat with us could put you into a better position than you find yourself now.

We can also help you at the police station and look into securing your legal aid.

Please contact us today and ask to speak with our drugs offences solicitors. You can talk to them in person, on the phone or via WhatsApp. You can also reach us on 0208 888 5225, or in an emergency call 07980 000 076 in the case of an arrest or detainment.

Get in touch with us now for conspiracy to sell drugs legal help.

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