While some might think that music festivals and drugs go hand in hand, so do police, and music festivals are often targeted for that very reason.
Every year, police catch hundreds of revellers in possession of drugs.
Many festival goers find this out when they have to go before a magistrate and respond to charges of drug possession.
One young tourist was recently summoned to the Downing Centre Local Court and had to appear before a magistrate after being found in possession of 20 ecstasy tablets.
He was caught with the drugs at a music festival the day before he was due to fly back home.
Instead he had to put off his flight and appear in court. Fortunately, he avoided jail time but left with a hefty fine and a scare that convinced him that he never wanted to do drugs again.
At a Sydney music festival late last year police arrested over 84 people on drug related charges.
More than 100 police were present and sniffer dogs and officers searched 430 people.
Apart from the criminal penalties that can attach to drug possession are the real risks that drugs carry.
Tragically, a 23 year old Victorian man died at a hospital after a suspected drug overdose at the rave. It was believed he drove up from Victoria to attend the festival with friends.
The festival attracted over 18,000 patrons, some of whom, afraid of getting caught for possession, took the two or three pills they brought at once instead of spreading them out over the day before entering the festival.
Some have speculated that the high prices of alcohol inside the venue contribute to the use of drugs which are comparatively cheaper. At least 20 others overdosed on drugs at the same rave.
Often police will work closely with security, checking bags and employing drug detection dogs.
Police are targeting those responsible for drug supply but also reducing the impact of drugs in the community.
According to the law, a police officer does not need a warrant to use a sniffer dog and can carry out a general drug detection search if they have a ‘suspicion on reasonable grounds’ that your are carrying drugs when:
- You are seeking to enter or leave premises where alcohol is sold and consumed
- You are seeking to enter or leave a public place where a sporting event, concert, performance, dance party, parade or other entertainment is being held
- You are seeking to enter or leave public transport, including a station, platform or any stopping place
This means that whenever you are attempting to enter or leave a music festival you may legally be subjected to a drug detection dog search.
However sniffer dogs are just one way that you might come to the attention of police and subjected to a search.
When conducting a search, police must abide by the rules – to stop, search or detain you without a warrant, the police must suspect on reasonable grounds that you are carrying a prohibited substance.
Illegal searches may mean that the evidence is inadmissible in court and charges can be dropped.
Experienced drug lawyers are often able to secure the withdrawal of charges of drug possession that came about due to an illegal search by writing to the Local Area Commander, highlighting the illegality and formally requesting withdrawal. That letter will often contain a warning to police that if they continue with the case, an application will be made to the court for police to pay our client’s legal costs once the case is thrown out.
The maximum penalty for drug possession is two years imprisonment and/or a $2,200 fine. Needless to say, a criminal conviction could affect your future work and travel prospects.
The actual penalty you may receive will vary depending on many factors including if you already have a criminal record, if you show remorse for your actions, whether you cooperated with the police and other circumstances surrounding the offence.
Fortunately, it is often possible to avoid the most severe penalties, and Sydney Drug Lawyers have a proven track record of achieving the best possible results for clients charged with drug possession.
Our specialist drug defence lawyers will fight for you every step of the way.