Import Or Export Border Controlled Drug – Criminal Code (Cth)

The team of specialist drug defence lawyers here have fought hard and won countless numbers of complex and difficult drug importation charges for over 20 years. They provide a special focus and proven track record on getting drug charges dropped early.

The team here consists of the most prestigious and well respected drug law Barristers and specialist drug defence lawyers who work as a team to guarantee to maximise your chances at getting the best possible result.

Importing or exporting prohibited drugs into Australia is a serious offence which carries serious punishments of imprisonment causing a great deal of stress for you and family.

Call us now on (02) 8606 2218 to book a free first consultation with an experienced Drug Defence Lawyer.

Your Options in Court

It is an offence in Australia if you:

  • Import the substance
  • Intend to import the substance
  • The substance was a border controlled drug
  • You knew the substance was a border controlled drug or you were aware of a substantial risk it was a border controlled drug
  • In the circumstances known to you, it was not justifiable to take the risk of importing the substance
  • You went ahead and took the risk by importing it

Before you can be guilty to the charge of importing or exporting drugs, police must first prove each of the above elements of the offence beyond reasonable doubt.

Defences to this charge

You will be Not Guilty to importing drugs if any of the following apply to you:

  • You did not know, or you were not aware of a substantial risk that the substance was a border controlled drug. For example, you cannot be found guilty if you are found to believe there was a mere possibility that the package contained a drug. The police must prove that your belief was more than a mere possibility!
  • The drug was less than the commercial or marketable quantity (relevant if you are charged with commercial or marketable quantity)
  • You did not import the substance, or you did not intend to import it
  • The substance is not actually a border controlled drug
  • You were acting under duress or necessity
  • You were suffering a mental illness or condition

The Police do not have to prove that you knew the exact kind of drug that ended up being in the package. The police only need to prove that you were aware that the package contained a border control drug, for example, MDMA, Cocaine, Heroin, or cannabis.

It is critical to choose a highly experienced senior specialist drug defence team of lawyers and barristers to fight by your side. The highly specialised defence team here have tirelessly worked around the clock for countless of clients charged with drug importation with exceptional results. They have always focused and succeeded on getting charges dropped early while maximising their clients chances at the best possible result. This is what has led to their team winning and proving their client’s innocence in court and making international headlines on some very high profile cases.

Before pleading guilty, it is extremely important to receive highly experienced advice from a specialist drug importation lawyer. An experienced specialist drug lawyer will guide you with the best options, then maximise your success at each one.

If pleading guilty, it is important to know the following, in order to maximise chances at the best possible outcome.

Negotiate to drop charges

Yes, you can actually get drug importation charges dropped or downgraded to something less serious, such as possession of imported drugs. If successful, the result will reduce the punishment the Judge gives you.

You will miss out on this option if you already plead guilty without trying this. We exhaust this avenue before considering other options, and we are proud to say that we have a highly specialised team who focus on getting charges dropped or downgraded with proven record of success of over 20 years.

Change the Facts

The judge will punish you based on what is written in the police facts. There are two sides to every story, which is why it’s important to negotiate these facts to accurately reflect what really happened. We have successfully changed the facts and made it more favourable to our clients for over 90% of our cases. The result is a better outcome on punishment.

Our lawyers have mastered the art of negotiating with police and DPP lawyers for over 20 years.

25% Discount on punishment

Pleading guilty at an earlier stage of the case will get you a discount of up to 25% off the punishment by law. The result will be a more lenient punishment. This also means that you will be punished more harshly if you loose the case after pleading not guilty to the charge.

Getting the right realistic advice early will make a difference to your outcome.

Good character references

Giving the judge well drafted good character references can allow the judge to give you a more lenient punishment if each reference talks about the right things from the right people.

Our specialist drug lawyers will guide you in who to get each reference from, and what things to comment on in each reference. Your dedicated senior specialist drug lawyer will review each one with feedback to ensure its perfect for giving to the Judge.

The references should mainly talk about your remorse, insight, embarrassment, prospects of rehabilitation. Each one should also talk about the fact that he or she is aware of the charges and aware that you have pleaded guilty.

Psychologist report

Your punishment can be significantly reduced with a powerful well drafted psychologist report if it addresses the following in it:

  • Your diagnosis. If you are suffering from a mental illness, the Judge is then allowed to reduce the punishment. It will have more effect allowing the punishment to be reduced further if it established you were suffering this mental condition at the time of the offence establishing a connection between the offence and your condition.
  • Express your remorse. Expressing your insight, remorse and treatment plans for the future into the report is one of the best ways to put this across to the Judge without having to give that evidence in person in the witness box.
  • Express your version of events. The report is a good way to provide an explanation for your offending conduct, not a justification. There are many factors the Judge can take into account about your background and events leading up to the offence that can go in your favour and towards a more lenient punishment.

Maximum penalty

The maximum punishment for this offence is usually reserved for the most serious offenders, and so the courts do not normally give the maximum.

The maximum punishment for importing a border controlled drug depends on the weight and drug you are found with. See tables below:

Maximum Penalties

Quantity District Court
Importing charge (s 307.3) 10 years imprisonment and/or $420,000 fine
Importing Marketable Quantity 25 years imprisonment and/or $1,050,000 fine
Importing Commercial Quantity Life imprisonment and/or $1,575,000 fine

Drug Weights and Categories

Border Controlled Drug Marketable Quantity Commercial Quantity
Methamphetamine 250 g or more 750 g or more
MDMA 100 g or more 500 g or more
Cannabis 25 kg or more 125 kg or more
Cocaine 250 g or more 2 kg or more
GHB 250 g or more 1 kg or more
Heroin 250 g or more 1.5 kg or more

Types of penalties available for Judge to give you

The Judge can give you any one of the following type of punishments:

Which of the above punishment you get, will depend on the above mentioned points, and many more. It’s important to optimise every single factor that can be used to maximise your chances at the best possible outcome to your case.

More factors Judge will look at when deciding type of  punishment to give you

The Case of DPP v De La Rosa [2010] NSWCCA 194 gives the Judges in Court a guide on what kind and length of punishment to give you depending on which group of drug importation your case falls into. Each group has certain factors explained in the following diagram.

Realistic Punishments for Importing Commercial Quantity

Import Commercial Quantity


Range of Prison Sentences
Group 1
  • High quantity (tens or hundreds of kilograms)
  • High value (tens of millions of dollars)
  • Large reward (hundreds of thousands of dollars), although finding of reward not required
  • Not guilty plea in half of cases
  • No assistance
  • No remorse
  • Mastermind, principal or part of organising committee
  • High degree of responsibility
Imprisonment 25 years – Life


Non parole period 8.5- 30 years



Group 2
  • High quantity
  • High value
  • Guilty plea
  • Principal, member of upper management or “essential” role with moderate to very high level of responsibility
  • Reward in tens of thousands of dollars, although finding or reward not indicative
Imprisonment 18 – 24.5 years


Non parole period 10- 16 years


Group 3
  • Quantity generally bellow 7Kg
  • Mid-range role
  • Discount for assistance
  • Cooperation
  • Plea not indicative
Imprisonment 8 -15 years


Non parole period 4- 11 years

Group 4
  • No prior convictions
  • Good antecedents
  • Quantity not indicative
  • Plea not indicative, although discount provided for early plea
  • Role not indicative, although generally part of syndicate
Imprisonment 6.25 – 8 years


Non parole period 3 – 4.5 years

 Realistic Punishments for Importing Marketable/Trafficable Quantity

Import Marketable/Trafficable Quantity


Range of Prison Sentences
Group 1
  • Reward in the thousands of dollars
  • Discount for assistance
  • You are a mere courier with additional layer of responsibility or played part in planning
  • Well above the trafficable/marketable quantity
Imprisonment 9- 18 years


Non parole period 4- 10 years



Group 2
  • Reward or anticipated rewards in the thousands of dollars
  • Discount for assistance
  • Nature and timing of plea of guilty
  • Courier or low level importer
Imprisonment 6 – 9 years


Non parole period 3- 5 years


Group 3
  • Lower quantity towards lower end of marketable/trafficable quantity
  • Monetary reward in the thousands of dollars or you did it to pay back a debt
  • Discount for early plea of guilty
  • Mere courier role
  • You have a drug addiction with financial problems with physical/mental health problems and family problems
Imprisonment 3.75 -6 years


Non parole period 2- 4.25 years

Good Character Reference Guide for Court

How to Write an Apology Letter for Court