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Can I be charged for my housemate possessing drugs or weapons?

Potts Lawyers > Criminal Law & Offences  > Can I be charged for my housemate possessing drugs or weapons?

Can I be charged for my housemate possessing drugs or weapons?

Sharing a house with mates can be stressful. Sharing a house with mates who may be committing criminal offences is even more so.

Regardless of whether or not you believe you are committing an offence; it is important to prevent yourself from being caught in the crossfire of your housemates’ bad decisions — especially when it relates to the unlawful possession of drugs or weapons offences.

The meaning of the term ‘possession’ under Queensland legislation does not follow the ordinary meaning of the term.

In some instances, you could be ‘in possession’ of something, or responsible for someone else’s actions, simply by turning a blind eye. It is up to you to be aware of what’s occurring in your sharehouse and when you could find yourself in trouble by association.


What Is ‘Possession’?

Contrary to popular belief, possession does not mean ownership. Under Queensland legislation, a person is deemed to be ‘in possession’ of something if they:

  • have knowledge of it, meaning they know of its presence, what it is and where it is; and
  • have control over it, meaning they can access it, prevent access to it, move or transfer it.

This wide interpretation of possession has multiple implications, including that:

  • something does not need to be yours for you to be charged with possessing it;
  • multiple people can be in possession of the same thing; and
  • an item does not need to be on you for you to be in possession of it.

This list is not exhaustive. There may be other instances where police can charge you with possession.


Can I Be Charged With Possession Of My Housemates’ Drugs?

Even if the drugs found in your sharehouse are not yours, and you are not using them, specific provisions under Queensland law could result in you being charged with a drug offence.

If, at the time in question, you were an ‘occupier’ (ie: a housemate) of a place, or someone concerned with its management or control (ie: an owner or a landlord), the law deems you to have knowledge and control of all the items within (or on) it.

This applies to all ‘places’ that can be occupied, including residences, businesses and vehicles.


What If I Didn’t Know the Drugs Were There?

If you did not know, and did not have a reason to suspect, that there were drugs in your sharehouse, you may have a defence to unlawful (meaning without legal justification) possession.

However, this presumption also flips the obligations on parties. This means it will be up to you and your legal team to prove that you held this belief honestly and reasonably.


What Drugs Do I Need to Look Out For?

A drug includes any drug outlined in Schedule 1 or 2 of the Drugs Misuse Act 1986. Schedule 1 drugs, include, for example, amphetamines, steroids, cocaine, heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

Possessing this class of drugs results in significant penalties being imposed. Possession of Schedule 2 drugs, for example, cannabis, morphine and Xanax, may also carry serious penalties.

It is important to remember that possessing any amount of drugs, even residue in a baggie, can constitute an offence. The greater the amount of drugs, the more serious the offence

Possession of larger quantities of drugs could result in arguments that the drugs were possessed for a commercial purpose. This can attract far more serious offences, like drug trafficking.


Can I Let My Housemates Grow, Make, Or Do Drugs in My Sharehouse? 

It is against the law in Queensland to permit any place you occupy, manage or control to be used for the commission of a drug offence.

This includes allowing a housemate or tenant to grow marijuana plants in your backyard, or to use your kitchen for making synthetic drugs.

This offence applies regardless of whether you or not you stand to profit from your housemate’s new venture. Even just watering a friend’s cannabis plant could result in you being charged with a production offence.


Can I Be Charged with Possession of My Housemates’ Weapons?

Similar provisions apply to unlawfully possessing firearms and weapons in Queensland.

If a weapon is, at the time in question, in or on a place that you occupy, manage or control, you may be in possession of it.

This is unless you can prove that:

  • the firearm was brought to the place by someone authorised to possess it; or
  • someone else had responsibility for it; or
  • you did not know or had reason to suspect, the firearm was present in the place.


What Weapons Do Need to Look Out For?

All weapons listed in section 50 of the Weapons Act 1990 are illegal to possess without legal justification.

These can range from bulletproof vests and centre rifles to butterfly knives. It may also include weapons that no longer work.

Like drugs, in some cases, people can be allowed to possess firearms.

So, it pays to check whether your housemate holds a valid license to possess their weapon first. If so, it also pays to check that they are storing their weapons safely and securely.


What Do I Do Police Are Searching My Sharehouse for Drugs or Weapons?

While it is preferable to limit your exposure to drugs and weapons before police become involved, this may not always be possible.

The most common way that individuals can be charged with unlawful possession is through a police search of themselves, their vehicle, their residence, or their business.

In most circumstances where police are looking to search you or a place you are in, they will have an order from the court, or a Justice of the Peace, called a search warrant. Valid search warrants allow police to search people or places for items reasonably suspected to be used in the commission of a criminal offence.

In some circumstances, police are even able to search a person or place without a search warrant. If you, or the place you are in, is being searched by police, it is important to ensure that the search is being conducted lawfully.


Get Help From Our Experienced Criminal Defence Lawyers

Police searches can be extremely stressful, but you don’t have to go through them alone.

If you expect you will be searched, are being searched, or have been searched by police, contact us at (07) 3221 4999 for immediate assistance.

Request a free online consultation or call our Gold Coast Legal Office on (07) 5532 3133 or our Brisbane Legal Office on (07) 3221 4999.



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