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Drug Offences Articles

What happens for a first offence of Conspiracy to Supply Class A Drugs?

Finding oneself accused of a serious offence can be a profoundly unsettling experience, especially when it involves the charge of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. If you or someone you know is facing this charge for the first time, it is imperative to gain a comprehensive understanding of the legal ramifications involved. In this article, we aim to shed light on the offence of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs under English law, providing clarity on its definition, offering illustrative examples, detailing potential sentencing outcomes, and exploring possible defences that can be pursued.

What is the offence of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs?

Conspiracy to supply Class A drugs is a criminal offence under Section 4(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (supplying or offering to supply a controlled drug) and Section 5(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply it to another). It is defined as two or more people agreeing to supply Class A drugs, even if they do not actually carry out their plan.

The prosecution must prove the following elements in order to secure a conviction for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs:

  • That at least two people agreed to supply Class A drugs.
  • That the agreement was made with the intention of supplying Class A drugs.
  • That the agreement was made in relation to Class A drugs.
  • The prosecution does not need to prove that any Class A drugs were actually supplied. It is sufficient to prove that the agreement was made with the intention of supplying Class A drugs.

Note that the agreement can be made in any way, including verbally, in writing, or by implication. For example, two people who are caught together with a large quantity of Class A drugs and who have been acting suspiciously may be found to have conspired to supply Class A drugs.

The offence of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs is a serious offence, and can result in a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. However, the actual sentence that is imposed will depend on a number of factors, as we outline later.

What are some examples of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs?

Here are some examples of the offence of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs:

  • Two people agree to sell cocaine to a third person.
  • A group of people agree to import heroin into the UK.
  • A drug dealer and their courier agree to transport ecstasy to a nightclub.
  • A landlord and their tenant agree to use the landlord’s property to grow cannabis.
  • A group of people agree to operate a dark web marketplace for the sale of Class A drugs.

Remember that even if no Class A drugs are actually supplied, the prosecution can still secure a conviction for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. It is sufficient to prove that the agreement was made with the intention of supplying Class A drugs.

What happens if you are suspected of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in the UK?

If you are suspected of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in the UK, the police and other law enforcement specialist teams or agencies (such as drugs teams) will get involved. Here is an outline of what is likely to happen:

  • Investigation: Police and other agencies will begin an investigation to collect evidence, such as electronic records, witness statements, and other relevant information. People that you know may be contacted and questioned about you.
  • Arrest: If there is enough evidence or reasonable grounds to suspect your involvement, you may be arrested and taken into custody for questioning.
  • Questioning: The police will ask you about your alleged involvement in the suspected crime, as well as about other matters such as your whereabouts on certain days, your work, your relationships, and more. While in custody, you have the right to remain silent and to have a lawyer present.
  • Search and Seizure: The police are likely to search your home, workplace, electronic devices, and other personal or professional belongings for evidence. They may also seize digital devices for further examination (and it will not be clear when, if ever, you will get these devices back).
  • Bail, Investigation, or Detention: Depending on the circumstances, you may be released on bail, released under investigation, or detained while further investigations are carried out. If released on bail, you may be required to follow certain conditions, such as staying away from certain locations or reporting to police at certain times.
  • Charging Decision: After the investigation is complete, the police will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to decide whether to press charges. The CPS will assess the evidence and decide if there is a strong enough case to prosecute.
  • Court Proceedings: If charges are filed, you will be summoned to court to answer the allegations. It is highly recommended that you seek legal representation to avoid the risk of self-incrimination.
  • Possible Outcomes: If found guilty, you may face a variety of penalties, including imprisonment, fines, community service orders, or restraining orders, depending on the severity of the offence and other factors.
  • Criminal Record: A conviction will result in a criminal record, which can have far-reaching consequences, such as making it difficult to get a job or travel to certain countries.

What is the sentence for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in the UK?

The sentence for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in the UK is a maximum of life imprisonment. However, the actual sentence that is imposed will depend on a number of factors, including the role that the offender played in the conspiracy, the amount of Class A drugs that were involved, and the offender’s previous criminal record. Per the sentencing guidelines, the offence range is a high level community order to 16 years’ custody.

For example, a first-time offender who is caught in possession of a small quantity of Class A drugs for personal supply may be given a community order or a suspended sentence. However, a repeat offender who is caught in possession of a large quantity of Class A drugs for commercial supply is likely to be sentenced to prison.

Aggravating and mitigating factors play an important role in determining the sentence.

Aggravating factors include:

  • The seriousness of the crime
  • The vulnerability of the victim
  • The offender’s previous criminal record
  • The planning of the crime
  • The use of violence or weapons
  • The impact of the crime on the victim and the community

Mitigating factors include:

  • The offender’s age and maturity
  • The offender’s mental health
  • The offender’s remorse and cooperation with the authorities
  • The offender’s efforts to rehabilitate themselves
  • The offender’s contribution to society

The weight given to each aggravating and mitigating factor will vary depending on the specific case. For example, a judge may give more weight to the aggravating factor of a previous criminal record if the offender has a history of violent offences.

In addition to a prison sentence, offenders may also be fined and/or ordered to forfeit any assets that they have gained from their drug dealing activities. This could involve anything including cars, motorcycles, jewellery, clothing, electronics, and other valuable assets or possessions.

Will I go to prison if it is my first offence of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs?

The likelihood of someone going to prison for their first offence of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in the UK depends on a number of factors, including the role that the offender played in the conspiracy, the amount of Class A drugs that were involved, and the offender’s previous criminal record.

However, in general, first-time offenders are less likely to be sentenced to prison than repeat offenders. According to a 2021 report by the Ministry of Justice, there were 1,163 convictions for possession with intent to supply Class A drugs in England and Wales in 2020/21. Of these, 2% were first-time offenders. Of the first-time offenders, only 2 (0.2%) were sentenced to immediate imprisonment.

Note that the crime of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs is a very serious offence, and even first-time offenders can be sentenced to prison, especially if the circumstances surrounding the crime are serious, too. For example, a first-time offender who is caught in possession of a large quantity of Class A drugs or who played a leading role in the conspiracy is more likely to be sentenced to prison than a first-time offender who made an out-of-character decision or was pressured by peers or gang members to engage in the illegal activity.

Where to get further help

If you or someone you care about is facing charges for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, it is important to remember that you are not alone. Many people with no prior legal experience find themselves in this situation, and there is help available. Contact Stuart Miller Solicitors today to learn more about your legal options and start building your defence.

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