In 2012, the Queensland Government ceased operation of the Queensland Drug Court, a specialist jurisdiction that had been operating for over a decade.
Earlier this year, the sentencing regime was re-introduced in the form of the Queensland Drug and Alcohol Court (“QDAC“). The purpose of the court is to identify and address substance abuse problems connected with criminal offending and provide structured penalties to address them.
Who Is Eligible To Be Referred To QDAC?
In order to be eligible for a referral, a defendant must, as a starting point:
- Be an adult,
- Be pleading guilty to their offences,
- Be charged with offences that can be dealt with summarily (in the Magistrates Court),
- If convicted, be likely to be sentenced to a period of imprisonment of up to 4 years,
- Not be subject to a parole order or serving a sentence of actual imprisonment, and
- Not be charged with a sexual assault offence.
At this stage QDAC referrals are only available to persons residing within the jurisdiction of the Brisbane Magistrates Court but greater availability is planned for the future.
What Is The Effect Of Being Sentenced In QDAC?
QDAC has a unique power to make a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Order, which serves to monitor and assist with rehabilitation for a period of 2 years.
Among other things, the ‘core conditions’ of a treatment order require a person to remain within Queensland and regularly report to authorities. Orders may also require persons to attend specific treatment, submit to drug testing, wear a drug and alcohol monitoring device and install a monitoring device in their home.
If a person fails to comply with a treatment order by not complying with directions or committing certain types of offences, QDAC has the power to impose periods of community service, revoke treatment orders and order offenders serve all or part of their original sentence.
Persons considering a referral to QDAC should obtain legal advice as early as possible. Our Criminal Law Team can determine whether a referral is available and in a person’s best interests.
How We Can Help
Our expert criminal lawyers can expertly navigate the complexities of being charged with a drug offence, explore all possible defences, ensure all required documentation is prepared in a timely manner, provide extensive support in the lead up to court appearances, respond to your questions in a timely manner, and provide reliable and professional representation in all court proceedings.
We are available to meet with you at any of our local offices (Brisbane, Gold Coast, Beenleigh, Cleveland and Jimboomba) or by telephone or video-conference.
This article is for your information and interest only. It is not intended to be comprehensive, and it does not constitute and must not be relied on as legal advice. You must seek specific advice tailored to your circumstances.