Advice Hub

June 8, 2011

Getting Caught With Drugs

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Written by: Kyle Raffo
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If you’re caught with drugs in your pockets or in your bag, you can be charged with possession, even if it’s not yours. If you’re under 17, the police can tell your parent or guardian.

The punishment for drug possession depends on the type of drug that you were carrying and whether you’ve been in trouble with the police before.

If you were carrying a Class C drug and you don’t have a criminal history, you’ll probably receive a formal warning or a police caution. If you’re found with Class A or B drugs, or if you have a history of drug offences, you’re likely to face a tougher punishment.

The maximum sentences for carrying each class of drug are:

  • up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine (or both) for a Class A drug
  • up to five years in prison or an unlimited fine (or both) for a Class B drug
  • up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine (or both) for a Class C drug

Even if you only deal drugs to friends or don’t exchange any money, these sentences are likely to increase heavily.

Possessing cannabis

Cannabis is now classified as a Class B drug. If you are caught carrying some, police will confiscate it and you may be arrested, even if it’s your first time. What the police will do depends on the circumstances and how old you are.

Over 18s

If you are over 18 and caught in possession of cannabis, the police are likely to:

  • give you a cannabis warning for a first offence of possession
  • give you a Penalty Notice for Disorder (an on-the-spot fine of £80) for a second offence
  • arrest you if it is the third time you have been caught with cannabis; this could lead to a conviction and a criminal record

Aged 10 – 17

If you’re between ten and seventeen and caught in possession of cannabis, the police will confiscate the drug and may arrest you. They may also refer you to a Youth Offending Team (YOT) and are likely to:

  • give you a reprimand and tell your parents what has happened if it is the first time you’ve been caught
  • give you a final warning and refer you to a YOT if it’s your second offence
  • arrest you if it is the third time you have been caught with cannabis, which could lead to a conviction and a criminal record

Possessing mephedrone

Mephedrone, or meow meow, used to be legal to buy in the UK over the internet.

Following the deaths of several teenagers who had been taking the drug, mephedrone (and related cathinone substances) has now been classified as a Class B drug. This means it is illegal to sell, buy or possess. Importing mephedrone into the UK has also been banned.

Restrictions on other substances

There are also restrictions on the sale of certain legal substances which can be harmful if misused. Such as:

  • it’s against the law for a shop to sell solvents, cigarette lighter refills and certain glues to under 18s if they believe that you’ll use them as a drug
  • if you’re under 18, you will not be allowed to buy alcohol, cigarettes, cigars or tobacco




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