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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.
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:
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.
Here are some examples of the offence of conspiracy to supply 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.
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:
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:
Mitigating factors include:
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.
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.
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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