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Court diversion for a minor drugs offence

Court diversion is aimed at diverting minor drug offenders from the criminal justice system.

If you are eligible, you can be referred to a drug education and information session rather than receiving a traditional penalty like a fine or probation order.

If you are charged with a drug offence, you should get legal advice.

Am I eligible for court diversion for a minor drug offence?

You will be eligible to attend a drug education and information session if you:

  • are charged with one or more eligible drug offences
  • appear before the magistrates court or the Childrens Court
  • admit guilt to the offence
  • have not previously been convicted of, or are currently facing charges of a sexual nature or a drug offence dealt with in the district or Supreme court.

If you have been offered two previous diversions, including a diversion under the police diversion program (see police diversion for a minor drug offence), you will not be eligible for a further diversion.

What is an eligible drug offence?

Eligible drug offences include:

  • possession of a minor amount of drugs
  • possession of anything used in connection with a drug offence if the thing was for personal use
  • possession of items used for the administration, consumption or smoking of dangerous drugs
  • failure to take reasonable care of a syringe
  • failure to dispose of a syringe.

Examples of minor amounts of common drugs include:

  • cannabis—50g
  • heroin—1g
  • methadone—1g
  • amphetamine—1g
  • cocaine—1 g
  • LSD—3 tickets.

The full list of minor drug quantities can be found in Schedule 1 of the Penalties and Sentences Regulation 2005.

How does the program work?

People under 17

If you are under 17 you attend at the Children's Court. A Court diversion officer (CDO) will talk with you. The matter is heard in court and the CDO tells the court if you qualify for the program. The court will send you away and give you a chance to attend the drug education and information session.

People 17 and over

If you are 17 or over, you will go to the magistrate’s court. A Court diversion officer (CDO) will talk with you. The matter is heard in court and the CDO tells the court if you qualify for the program.

The court may need you to sign a document called a ‘recognisance’, in which you agree to be of good behaviour for a period of time. The ‘recognisance’ will contain a condition that you attend a drug education and information session.

If you complete the program, the order ends and no conviction is recorded. If you do not complete the program, or you commit another offence during the period of the order you will be in breach of the recognisance order and you may be required to pay an amount of money to the court; and you may be brought back to court for the original offence and given a different sentence.

The drug education and information session starts with a session with a health service provider to prepare a personal plan about your drug taking behaviour. Treatment is voluntary and not part of the recognisance order. The session is strictly confidential. A family member or friend may go with you to the drug education and information session.

Do I still have to pay the offender levy?

Yes. If you are found guilty of an offence in a Queensland court, you will have to pay the offender levy in addition to any penalty or sentence you receive. This applies even if no conviction is recorded.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if you have

  • been charged with a drug offence
  • been offered diversion by the court
  • breached a recognisance order for drug diversion.

Get legal advice

Legal Aid Queensland may provide legal advice about the court diversion for minor drug offences.

These organisations may also give you legal advice.

Community legal centres may give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to see if they can help with your matter.

The Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.

Who else can help?

The following services may also be able to help you. They do not give legal advice.

Queensland courts provides information about the Illicit Drugs Court Diversion Program.

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