Mass arrests following teen overdose death – ecstasy possession at Harbourlife


Amid the tragic news of a Sydney teenager who passed away at Harbourlife festival on the weekend following an apparent drug overdose, police conducted a massive sniffer dog operation at the event at Mrs Macquaries Chair, arresting 78 people for drug offences.


Individuals charged at these festivals usually receive the same time and place listing on their CANs (court attendance notice). This means that on the day, about 78 people turn up to court on the same list, waiting for their matter to be dealt with by the Magistrate.

While it is a common assumption that a section 10 order, that is, good behaviour bond without conviction or dismissal without conviction, is easily achievable for first-time offenders, individuals who turn up to court unprepared suffering from this presumption are often rudely surprised when they in fact receive a conviction.

When a magistrate is facing a large number of individuals charged with like offences with very similar factual circumstances, they cannot all get a section 10. This is especially so when a large degree of media interest, such as in the immediate case, surrounds an event. Magistrates cannot be seen to be “soft on crime”.

This all means that individuals need to take a drug possession charge seriously, and come to court prepared, demonstrate respect for the court and solemn appreciation of the seriousness of their wrongdoing.

This really underscores the importance of getting a lawyer for a drug possession charge, especially where the odds, such as a large number of other individuals being sentenced, and increased media scrutiny surrounding the broader circumstances of your offending, are stacked against you.

Possession of illicit drugs, such as ecstasy / MDMA and marijuana, is an offence under section 10 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985. The maximum penalty is $2,200 and/or 2 years’ imprisonment.

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Image credit: Stas Belkov, Instagram profile @belkiii

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