Defences in Section 28 of the Act
In relation to offences of possession (with or without intent to supply), production, supply, cultivation of drugs or the opium-related offences, it is a defence for the accused to show that:
- He neither knew, suspected, nor had reason to suspect the existence of some fact that the prosecution is required to prove, for example that he was in possession of the drug.
- He neither believed, suspected, nor had reason to suspect that the substance in question was a controlled drug.
- That he believed the product to be a controlled drug, which had it been that drug, would mean that he would not have been an offence at the time that he committed it.
In R v Lambert  2 AC 545, the House of Lords held that the defendant only bears an evidential burden in relation to calling evidence that he lacked the requisite knowledge, belief or suspicion – it is for the prosecution to prove by reference to the available evidence that he lacked knowledge, belief or suspicion.
It is the second of the three defences cited above that will be most frequently encountered. In deciding whether the defence is made out, prosecutors may wish to have regards to:
- The credibility of any account given in interview – note the evidential burden on the defendant.
- The circumstances in which the drug was acquired or possessed, including concealment.
- Nature of any packaging.
- Any observations on the defendant prior to him being stopped or arrested.
- If a possession offence is alleged, proximity to the supplier.
- Content of any exhibit – telephone messages, documents, labelling.
- Relevant bad character – including previous non court disposals and informal warnings, if recorded and in an admissible format.
Under FOIA ( Freedom of Information Act), you have a right to request any recorded information held by a public authority, such as a government department, local council or state school.
- You can ask for any information you think a public authority may hold. The right only covers recorded information which includes information held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.
- You should identify the information you want as clearly as possible.
- Your request can be in the form of a question, rather than a request for specific documents, but the authority does not have to answer your question if this would mean creating new information or giving an opinion or judgment that is not already recorded.
- Some information may not be given to you because it is exempt, for example because it would unfairly reveal personal details about somebody else.
When you can take a course
You can be offered a rehabilitation course to reduce your driving ban if:
- you’re found guilty of a drink-drive offence
- your ban is for 12 months or more
You have to pay to take the course. It can cost up to £250.
Reducing the length of your ban
Your ban will be reduced if you complete the course within a certain time. The ban is usually reduced by a quarter.
Deciding to take a course
You have to decide in court if you want to take a course or not. You cannot change your mind later.
To arrest you the police need reasonable grounds to suspect you’re involved in a crime for which your arrest is necessary
The custody officer at the police station must explain your rights. You have the right to:
- get free legal advice
- tell someone where you are
- have medical help if you’re feeling ill
- see the rules the police must follow (‘Codes of Practice’)
- see a written notice telling you about your rights, eg regular breaks for food and to use the toilet (you can ask for a notice in your language) or an interpreter to explain the notice
You’ll be searched and your possessions will be kept by the police custody officer while you’re in the cell.