Drug offences and narcotics criminal law

Drug crimes are listed in the german narcotic law, called Betäubungsmittelgesetz (BtmG). Its purpose is to prevent criminal actions of distribution and sale as well as the consumption of narcotic substances. Crime penalties are stated in §§ 29 - 30b BtmG, penalizing it as a regulatory offense in § 32 BtmG. Although social acceptance may have increased, especially concerning the consumption of cannabis, massive penalties can still be imposed, for example the withdrawal of a driver’s license or firearms license or hunting permit.

Neither the police/public prosecutors nor the courts treat narcotic offenses as a petty crime. Even the first case of possessing illegal narcotic substances can lead to a prison sentence or heavy financial sanctions. Furthermore the suspect has to deal with the possibility of house searchings, undercover investigations and the monitoring of all telecommunications as investigative measures.

The basic offense of § 29 BtmG defines the purchase, the possession, trading and producing of drugs as an offense. Possible are financial sanctions or prison sentence up to 5 years of imprisonment.

If the offender sold drugs as a business or distributed drugs to juveniles the sentence increases to a minimum of 1 year of imprisonment, §§ 29 (3), 29a (1) nr. 2 BtmG.

If the offender acted as a member of a gang which purpose is committing similar or comparable crimes (§ 30 (1) BtmG) the sentence will not be less than 2 years of imprisonment. The offender risks imprisonment of at least 5 years when he traded with not-small quantities of narcotics and as a gang member or when he carried a weapon.

The quantity as well as the quality (e. g. active ingredient content) of narcotic substances is very important in criminal law connected to narcotics. It influences the penal height as well as the possibility of ending the investigation proceedings without a public trial.

If an active ingredient content is detected handling a small quantity is also punishable. However, the investigation proceedings often end without a trial or the court refrains from imposing criminal penalties (§ 29 (5) BtmG). A small quantity regularly consists of 1 - 3 consumption units. This can be identified by a report regarding the active ingredient content.

The penalty range extends to a minimum imprisonment sentence of 1 year as soon as the limitation of the not-small quantity is exceeded. The following limitations have been developed by the jurisdiction:

  • cannabis 7.5 g THC

  • ecstasy 30 g MDMA

  • amphetamine: 10 g amphetamine base

  • heroin: 1.5 g heroin hydrochloride

  • cocaine: 5 g cocaine hydrochloride

  • LSD (lysergid): 6 mg

  • methamphetamine: 5 g methamphetamine base

  • morphine: 4.5 g morphine hydrochloride.

Many people falsely believe that the use of drugs for themselves is not punishable. Indeed the consumption itself does not lead to a criminal sanction. But the base for a consumption of illegal substances is its possession and the purchase of the narcotic itself which are both considered criminal offenses.

The public prosecutors can quit pursuing minor cases of purchase or possession if the substances were intended to be used for oneself, § 31a BtmG. Still, convincing the prosecution authorities of this circumstance is a hard task because there is always the risk of self-accusation. Therefore the accused person should contact a competent and experienced criminal defense lawyer who develops the written statement.

In this context it has to be mentioned that suspects of a drug offence are often addicted to illegal substances; this addiction often is the reason for breaking the law. In those cases serving the sentence does not help the convicted person to get over the addiction and become clean; usually it even deteriorates his or her personal situation. § 35 BtmG enables the convicted person to complete a therapy and not serve the sentence before 2 years have passed. If the treatment was successful the offender does not have to serve the whole sentence. Having completed the therapy will be treated like he or she has partly served the sentence but not more than 1 third of the sentence.

Are you confronted with the accusation of having committed a crime connected to narcotic substances? Have you received a hearing notification from the police or an indictment? Then do not hesitate and contact us. We provide professional advice without prejudice.

Call 040 44 55 66 or send an e-mail to info@hanse-strafrecht.de.

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