What is involved in a drug possession charge?

What is involved in a drug possession charge?

Under Queensland law, it is an offence to possess a dangerous drug unless it has been lawfully prescribed or supplied. If you’re facing drug charges, get in touch with a drug lawyer in Brisbane. We can help you understand the elements of the charge and any defence you may have.

To be charged, it must first be shown that you were in possession of the drug. It’s worth noting that Queensland law is different from other states and territories, as it includes ‘deemed possession’. If you are charged in Queensland you need an expert drug lawyer in Brisbane or elsewhere in Queensland so that you have the right advice.

The three elements of possession are as follows:


You must know that:

  • The substance is a drug; and
  • The substance is in your custody

However, if the police discover drugs in your car or your bag (for example), you can’t simply claim that you didn’t know what it was. Knowledge of possession can be inferred by the circumstances. Generally, awareness that a substance is highly likely to be a drug or there is a real and significant chance that it is a drug, will be enough.

There may be extenuating circumstances in a few instances. It’s a good idea to speak to a drug lawyer in Brisbane to understand if this is a realistic defence.


Custody means that the drug is in your physical possession. This might be your immediate physical possession, such as in your pocket or handbag. It may also include your house or your car.

It is also possible to find that you had custody of drugs even if they aren’t in your physical possession. For example, if you order drugs over the internet, and they are waiting to be picked up at the post office, that may be enough to establish possession. You know that they are there, and you are the only person who can collect them, so they are considered to be in your effective possession.


Control means that you have the ability to control what happens to the drug. For example, if you are able to keep or take the drugs, you have control over them.

If someone else leaves drugs in your house, which you then find and throw away, that will probably be enough to prove the element of control. If you are found to have hidden or concealed a drug, such that nobody else could find it and take it, that also meets the elements of knowledge, custody and control.

What is deemed possession?

In Queensland, you can be charged with possession if drugs are found anywhere on land or premises that you occupy, manage or control. This includes a share house, or property that you own but other people have access to, including your garden, shed or garage. If drugs are found, the onus of proof is on you to prove that you didn’t know about them and that they belong to someone else. This aspect of the law is known as ‘deemed possession’.

Possession may also be temporary. If someone hands you a joint so that you can smoke some and then hand it on, you can be charged with possession during that process.

Penalties for possessing drugs of dependence can be steep. Depending on the type of drug, the quantity you’re found in possession of and other circumstances, the maximum penalty may vary from $11,800 and three years imprisonment to $590,000 and 25 years imprisonment. For this reason, it is extremely important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible. Our experienced lawyers for drug possession in Brisbane can help you understand your options and avoid harsh penalties for drug possession.