• Top 1% of Defence Law Firms

  • Defended over 50,000 Cases

  • 5 star google reviews

  • 40 Years of Criminal Law Expertise

Criminal Defence Articles

What is the maximum sentence for Conspiracy to Supply Class A Drugs?

importation of drugs

Facing a charge for conspiracy to supply class A drugs and curious about the maximum sentence? You’re not alone. This concern is common among clients – sadly, many people find themselves in similarly perplexing circumstances having to figure out how to face these charges. Whatever your situation, getting advice from a trusted solicitor as early as possible is a good idea. While the punishment for this offence can be severe, solicitors can assist in potentially reducing any prison time. This article will cover the basics of the offence, i.e. what constitutes conspiracy to supply class A drugs, and discuss the maximum possible sentence you might face alongside key points from the sentencing guidelines and more information on how a solicitor can help lessen your sentence.

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

The offence of conspiracy to supply class A drugs in England is a serious criminal offence that involves an agreement between two or more individuals to supply illegal drugs classified as Class A under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Class A drugs include substances such as heroin, cocaine, MDMA, and methamphetamine, which are considered to have the highest potential for harm and abuse.

The primary statutes governing the offence of conspiracy to supply class A drugs are the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Criminal Law Act 1977:

  • The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 categorises controlled substances and delineates various offences related to their misuse, including possession, manufacture, and distribution.
  • The Criminal Law Act 1977, specifically Section 1, addresses the concept of criminal conspiracy, making it an offence to agree to commit a criminal act.

To secure a conviction for conspiracy to supply class A drugs, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Agreement: There must be evidence of an agreement between two or more individuals to supply Class A drugs. This agreement does not have to be formal or written; it can be inferred from the actions and communications of the parties involved.
  2. Intent: The individuals involved must have intended to carry out the agreement to supply Class A drugs. This means they were aware of and intended the supply of the controlled substances.
  3. Action taken in pursuit of the conspiracy: While it is not necessary for the actual supply of the drugs to have taken place, there must be some action or behaviour that demonstrates the parties were actively pursuing the conspiracy.
  4. Knowledge: The individuals involved must have known that they were agreeing to supply Class A drugs, and not another category of drugs or some other lawful activity.

Examples of the offence of conspiracy to supply class A drugs may include:

  • Two people agreeing to import a large quantity of cocaine into the country for distribution.
  • A group planning to manufacture and distribute MDMA pills at a large-scale rave event.
  • Individuals conspiring to transport heroin across state lines with intent to distribute.
  • A gang plotting to distribute crack cocaine in a specific local area.
  • Two individuals planning to smuggle methamphetamine across international borders.
  • A network coordinating the production and distribution of LSD in multiple cities.
  • A conspiracy involving multiple individuals to distribute ecstasy at music festivals.
  • Drug traffickers organising the shipment of fentanyl disguised as prescription pills.
  • A cartel coordinating the distribution of heroin through various distribution points.
  • Two or more persons conspiring to sell cocaine to undercover agents in a sting operation.

What is the maximum sentence for conspiracy to supply class A drugs?

In England and Wales, the maximum sentence for conspiracy to supply class A drugs is life imprisonment. The actual sentence imposed will depend on various factors, including the specific details of the offence, the defendant’s role in the conspiracy, and any mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

According to the Sentencing Council guidelines, judges will consider the quantity of drugs involved, the level of organisation, the defendant’s previous criminal record, and the harm caused to the community when determining the appropriate sentence. It is vital for individuals facing such charges to seek expert legal advice to understand their position better and navigate the complexities of the sentencing process.

What factors influence the sentencing of conspiracy to supply class A drugs?

When a judge is sentencing for the offence of conspiracy to supply class A drugs, several factors will be taken into account to determine the appropriate sentence. These factors are broadly classified into aggravating and mitigating considerations, and they help to ensure that the sentencing is both fair and just, based on the specific circumstances of the case.

Aggravating factors, which increase the severity of any publishment, include:

  1. Role and Influence: The defendant’s role in the conspiracy is a significant aggravating factor. Individuals who organise or lead the operation will typically receive harsher sentences compared to those with a lesser role.
  2. Scale of Operation: The scale and sophistication of the drug supply operation can aggravate the sentence. Larger operations involving significant quantities of drugs or extensive networks are viewed more seriously.
  3. Previous Convictions: A history of similar offences can aggravate a sentence, demonstrating a pattern of criminal behaviour.
  4. Exploitation of Vulnerable Individuals: If the defendant exploited young or vulnerable individuals to carry out the criminal activity, it will be considered an aggravating factor.
  5. Use of Violence or Weapons: The use or threat of violence, or the involvement of weapons, will further aggravate the sentence.
  6. Impact on the Community: The harm caused to the community, particularly if the drugs were supplied near schools or other areas where vulnerable individuals might be affected, will be considered.

Mitigating factors, which reduce the severity of any sentence imposed, on the other hand, include:

  1. Lesser Role: If the defendant played a minor role in the conspiracy, this can mitigate the sentence. For instance, being coerced or involved through limited means.
  2. Personal Circumstances: Factors such as mental health issues, addiction-related problems, or significant personal hardship may be considered mitigating circumstances.
  3. Guilty Plea: Entering an early guilty plea can lead to a reduction in the sentence, as it spares the court time and resources and may indicate remorse.
  4. No Previous Convictions: A lack of previous criminal convictions can mitigate the sentence, suggesting the current offence is an isolated incident.
  5. Cooperation with Authorities: Providing substantial assistance to law enforcement, such as assisting in the apprehension of other conspirators or providing valuable information, may lead to a reduced sentence.
  6. Remorse and Rehabilitation: Demonstrating genuine remorse for one’s actions and efforts towards rehabilitation, such as undergoing treatment programs or seeking education, can also mitigate the severity of the sentence.

How can a solicitor help with reducing the sentence for conspiracy to supply class A drugs?

When facing charges of conspiracy to supply class A drugs, obtaining a solicitor’s assistance can be pivotal in reducing your sentence. Here’s why availing the expertise of a solicitor makes a significant difference, how to choose the right one, and what you can anticipate during your initial consultation.

  • Legal Expertise and Strategy: A solicitor with experience in handling cases related to conspiracy to supply class A drugs possesses the intricate knowledge of the law, sentencing guidelines, and precedents that are vital for constructing a strong defence or negotiating a lesser sentence. They can assess the nuances of your case, highlight mitigating factors, and offer strategic advice tailored to your circumstances. Their familiarity with court procedures and relationship with the prosecution can also be advantageous in plea bargaining.
  • Investigation and Evidence: Solicitors play a crucial role in thoroughly investigating your case by scrutinising evidence, identifying weak points in the prosecution’s case, and ensuring that your legal rights have not been violated during the investigation. They may work with expert witnesses or private investigators to gather additional evidence in your favour. A well-prepared case might prompt the prosecution to consider a reduced sentence.
  • Plea Bargaining: An experienced solicitor knows the intricacies of plea bargaining. They can negotiate with the prosecution to potentially reduce charges or secure a more lenient sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. This can be particularly beneficial in conspiracy cases where demonstrating cooperation or lesser involvement can influence the outcome.

When selecting a solicitor, consider their experience, specialisation, and reputation. Look for solicitors who specialise in criminal defence and have a proven track record in handling drug-related cases, specifically those involving class A substances. Personal recommendations, reviews from past clients, and successful case histories can provide insights into their capability and reliability.

Remember that your first meeting with a solicitor is crucial for laying the groundwork of your defence. Expect the solicitor to ask detailed questions about the charges, your involvement, and any pertinent circumstances surrounding your case.

Where to get more help

Concerns about what sentence you might receive for conspiracy to supply class A drugs can be all-consuming, and you undoubtedly have several important questions on your mind. For more help and guidance on sentencing and other matters related to the offence of conspiracy to supply class A drugs, get in touch with the team at Stuart Miller Solicitors today. Our friendly staff are on hand to help with your case.


  • Responsive

    A legal expert will consult you within 24 hours of making an enquiry.

  • Empathetic

    We will always treat you with trust, understanding and respect.

  • Specialised

    Your case will be handled by an expert who specialises in your type of offence.

  • Proactive

    We will take early action to end proceedings as soon as it is practically and legally possible to do so.

  • Engaged

    You will be kept updated on your case at all times. We will provide a named contact available to answer your questions.

  • Caring

    We understand this is a difficult and stressful time for you and your family. Our team will support you every step of the way.

  • Tenacious

    We will never give up on your case. We fight tirelessly to get you the best possible outcome.

Google Rating
Based on 352 reviews

Further Reading


Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.