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Drug Importation Solicitors

At JD Spicer Zeb Solicitors, we have been advising and representing clients facing charges for serious drug offences for over 45 years. With specific expertise in importation of drugs cases, importation of controlled drugs solicitors can provide expert support at all stages of proceedings, protecting your legal rights and helping to secure the best available outcome for you.

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Our importation of drugs solicitors represent clients from a diverse background and speak a wide range of languages, so can provide clear, effective advice no matter who you are. With a track record of success for our clients under even the most difficult circumstances, we have earned a reputation for first class representation in serious drug offence cases.

  • Have you, a friend or family member been arrested for importation of controlled drugs?
  • Are you required to attend a police station by appointment?
  • Have you been bailed to return to the police station?
  • Have you been charged with importation of controlled or illegal drugs?
  • Have you received a postal summons or requisition?

For a free initial consultation on your legal position and the available options, contact our local offices in LondonBirmingham or Manchester.

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Why choose JD Spicer Zeb?

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There is limited recourse for you if you are falsely accused. Click a selection of the cases we have covered. The best thing you can do is to instruct an excellent solicitor from the outset.

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Need immediate legal support? Our accredited Police Station Representatives are available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Please use the emergency numbers listed at the top of the page for on-the-spot specialist legal representation for importation of drugs charges.

The crime of importing controlled drugs into the UK is extremely serious.  Should you be charged with this offence, expert legal advice and representation is essential.  JD Spicer Zeb Solicitors have over forty five years’ experience acting in some of the most high-profile criminal cases in England and Wales. If you have been charged with importation of a controlled drug, you can contact us 24 hours a day, seven days a week

Our law firm is Lexcel accredited, meaning we meet the highest levels of good management and customer care set by the Law Society of England and Wales.  In addition, we were awarded the Law Society Excellence in Practice Management Award in 2012.  Our expert team speaks multiple languages and we have approved external interpreters who can assist us if required.

How can we help?

Common questions

We always work with the most experienced and best leading UK barristers, KCs (Kings Counsel). We cover all criminal cases 24/7 at the police station and court. Offices in London, Birmingham, and Manchester cover cases across England and Wales. We can offer Legal Aid and affordable Private fee agreements. We can see you the same day, including virtually. Our Senior Partners supervise all of our cases.

How quickly do you respond?

We respond quickly even during out of hours. We do not get our work by paying for online adverts but based on the fact that few criminal law firms can match our 45 years of experience. Most of our cases are still from word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied clients. We are called daily by dissatisfied clients from firms with less experience than us. We respond very quickly to new enquiries. We know what clients seek and so we update clients rapidly.

Can you get cases dropped?

Yes, read about the recent cases we've helped our clients with here.

We always keep you updated and give straightforward advice. We will get cases dropped early where the case is weak or should not be prosecuted. We will be upfront with you about where you can benefit from a good result with an early guilty plea, such as a discount on your sentence. As we work on cases across all levels with clients from all walks of life, we are excellent at giving clear, spot-on advice. As an established firm, we can allocate a whole team to your case often at short notice to secure evidence to minimise the damage to you. 

Have you won any awards?


"JD Spicer Zeb demonstrated a clear commitment to client service through their work with vulnerable and diverse individuals in what can be severely traumatic circumstances".

Do you offer free consultations?

Where it is possible, we aim to provide an initial consultation to you. If we can speak to you, we can if required inform you about  –

  • Whether we can take the case on and our relevant experience.
  • Public and private funding benefits.
  • Assistance in applying for legal aid where we are likely to accept instructions.
  • An outline of options in police interview only. We will not advise you on which option to adopt.
  • Providing our free written guide explaining the police station process.
  • The gravity of routine and day-to-day offences you face.
  • Consequences of not attending the court or police station.
  • Consequences of interfering with any witnesses.
  • Retaining any evidence in support of your case.
  • If possible an outline of the elements of the offence that the police or CPS must prove.
  • This consultation will normally be by telephone or email and will only be for as long as we deem necessary to establish if we can act for you. If we cannot usefully give you any advice in this manner then we will not continue with the consultation. We will not discuss the case in depth for you to be able to decide on your plea or any significant aspect of the case, as this cannot be undertaken informally.
  • Referring you, if possible, to other firms for matters out of our specialism or if we cannot help.

Consultations do not apply to the following cases –

  • If we do not intend to take the case on.
  • Road Traffic cases, drink driving, drug driving, driving bans, speeding, no insurance, mobile phone use, points etc.
  • In all cases where we do not have the capacity to take your case or the availability of suitably qualified staff to provide an initial free consultation. This is applicable in all cases but especially where a more senior lawyer is required because of your personal needs or the complexity of the case.
  • Harassment/stalking/ coercive behaviour/malicious communications or road traffic cases and most sensitive cases. These cases are often too complicated to assess in short consultations.
  • The locations concerned may be too distant to represent you adequately or it may not be cost-effective for you or us.
  • The case is too complicated to assess or raises various charges or facts, complexity, or history to be considered informally or in a short consultation.
  • In most Legal aid transfers where legal aid is granted to another firm except in very grave cases, we may assess the case and merits for a transfer.
  • If your relationship has broken down with your existing solicitor or several solicitors.
  • If you have been released under investigation and have already had a police station attendance. 
  • If you hold legal aid with another firm and seek a second opinion.
  • If you are calling on behalf of the client as a friend or family member unless you have full authority and full facts.
  • To businesses.
  • Advising whether you were given good advice by your other solicitor.
  • Whether to decide to plead guilty or not guilty.
  • Whether you have an arguable defence in law or factually complicated defences.
  • Any advice you have had after your first court appearance.
  • Any advice on appeal on conviction or sentence.
  • If we feel we are unable to communicate with you.
  • If we are likely to be conflicted or breach our professional rules.

Due to our robust record in providing successful criminal defence, we enjoy relationships with skilful and experienced barristers.  You can be confident that when you instruct our team, we will work with the best counsel and ensure every aspect and consequence of your defence is fully explained to you.  We have represented all types of clients accused of importing drugs into the UK, from holidaymakers bringing home illicit substances to sophisticated organised crime rings.

If you are facing charges for the importation of controlled drugs, we appreciate that you are likely feeling incredibly tense, worrying about what this could mean for your future. Rest assured, our solicitors have much experience providing sensitive yet direct and robust guidance to clients in these circumstances. Any questions or concerns that you have will be answered promptly.

Drug importation cases can be complex, however, our team will always ensure that they explain matters to you carefully, so that you appreciate your position.

Not only can we represent you in the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court, we can also provide 24-hour police station representation.  Remember, anything you say or do can play a decisive role in the outcome of your criminal matter, therefore it is crucial you get immediate professional advice and support as soon as possible following arrest.

An importation of drugs offence can carry serious sentences, and so, it is essential that you contact an expert solicitor at the earliest opportunity.

What is the law governing the importation of drugs?

The law around the offence of importing a controlled drug into the UK is provided by the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (CEMA), sections 50 and 70.  Section 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act prohibits the importation and exportation of controlled drugs. 

Section 50 of the CEMA – improper importation of goods

It is an offence under Section 50 of the CEMA to land or unload from any ship, aircraft or port prohibited or restricted goods (this includes drugs) or goods in which customs duty is owned but has not been paid.  The section also makes it an offence to remove any such goods from the place they were imported to, such as a wharf or transit shed.

An offence is committed by anyone who imports or is linked with the importation of prohibited or restricted goods whether or not the goods are unloaded.  Smuggling goods in a container which is labelled as holding goods of a legal nature is also an offence under section 50.

Section 70 of the CEMA – fraudulent evasion of duty

Section 70 is the more widely used section relating to a charge of importing drugs.  It provides that it is an offence to knowingly acquire possession of an item with intent to defraud or to evade customs duty or to avoid any prohibition or restriction.  It is also an offence to be ‘knowingly concerned’ in carrying, removing, depositing, harbouring, keeping or concealing or dealing with such an item.

As you can see, the importation of controlled drugs laws can be both strict and complex, which is why having the best legal experts to support you is essential.

If you have been accused of a drug importation offence, and you are looking for legal support, our experts can offer tailor-made guidance.

What is meant by ‘fraudulent evasion’?

If you are tried under section 70, the prosecution is required to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you deliberately and dishonestly tried to evade the duty, prohibition, or restrictions placed on the article imported.  Therefore, your state of mind when you performed the evasive acts will be of key importance, rather than the moment the drugs were actually imported.  For example, in R v Jackman, the accused intended to import two bags containing cannabis into the UK via a flight from Ghana.  She had a change of heart in Paris and abandoned the bags there.  Airport officials, believing the bags to have been misrouted, dutifully sent them onto London, where the contents were discovered.  Although the defendant did not physically bring the cannabis into the UK, she had intended to import the drugs when she initially checked them through from Ghana.

Our criminal defence Solicitors will take the time to understand the entirety of your actions to establish if there is a defence of a lack of intent.  If you did not intend to import the drugs or you changed your mind part way through the process, we will construct a persuasive argument to present to the Court on your behalf.

What other defences available for a charge of importing drugs?

There are several other defences available if you are charged with importing drugs into the UK; for example, if you were unaware that the goods imported were subject to a prohibition or restriction on importation.

The potential to be charged with the importation of controlled drugs has increased thanks to the proliferation of internet pharmacy websites selling drugs such as Viagra.  If you have been charged with importing a drug that you did not know was an illegal substance, or you were sent an illegal drug when you ordered a legal one, we can provide you with support, advice, and robust court representation.

Naturally, any defence will depend on the specifics of the case, to discuss your importation of drugs offence in the UK, please contact our specialist solicitors at JD Spicer Zeb.

Will my case be tried in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court?

Most of the offences of importing controlled drugs are tried in the Crown Court as they are too serious to be dealt with in the Magistrates' Court.

All criminal cases start off in the Magistrates’ Court. The Magistrates will decide whether your case should remain in the Magistrates’ Court or, if there are difficult issues to be considered, be moved to the Crown Court.

If you are unsure of which court to have your case tried in, we will provide practical advice on which option will best serve your interests.

What are the penalties for importing controlled drugs into the UK?

If you are convicted of importing drugs into the country, the chance of receiving a prison sentence is high. Therefore, it is crucial to instruct us as soon as possible, to ensure we can build a strong defence in your favour. 

The sentencing of drug offences is governed by the Sentencing Council’s Definitive Guideline for Drug Offences.  These guidelines provide a starting point for the judge on which to base the sentence.  He or she is then required to look at any aggravating factors which could lead to the sentence being increased from the starting point, or mitigating factors, which could lead to the sentence being reduced.  Contrary to popular belief, the fact you plead guilty early on does not provide an automatic reduction in sentence (although in practice it often does), so it is crucial you discuss with us whether pleading guilty is in your best interests.

The Court will take into account the purity of the drugs imported, the amount brought into the country, and whether they were designed to be taken by you alone or were imported with the intention of being sold.

Importation of controlled drugs can carry serious penalties, yet these penalties will depend on many different factors. Such factors include the class of drugs, the quantity of drugs, and to what level and extent the individual was involved in the offence.

Under the Sentencing Council guidelines, penalties are set according to class of drug. For instance, the importation of class A drugs has a recommended sentence of between 3.5 and 16 years imprisonment, and a maximum of life imprisonment.

The importation of class B drugs has a recommended sentence of between 12 weeks’ and 10 years’ imprisonment, with a maximum sentence of up to 14 years’, an unlimited fine, or both.

Where individuals are charged with importing class C drugs the recommended sentence ranges from serving a community order to 8 year’s imprisonment, or a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment, depending on the circumstances, as well as the possibility of an unlimited fine.

Our solicitors are extremely knowledgeable regarding the importation of drugs sentencing guidelines, and can answer any questions you have, providing a realistic picture of your legal position.

To learn more about drug importation charges, please contact our team, we can provide expert legal advice on the importation of controlled drugs.

What are the potential defences for importing controlled drugs?

One potential defence for importing controlled drugs is lack of knowledge, as in, the individual was not aware that they were importing drugs. Potentially because the drugs were planted on their person, or that they were not aware that these were controlled substances.

Another defence might be if the individual can prove that they have a medical prescription for the drug that they were importing, however, whether this holds up depends on the circumstances and whether or not the drug can legally be possessed in the UK.

The potential defences for drugs importation largely depend on the case and circumstances. Once your solicitor has reviewed the case, they will proceed to build a fitting defence, with your support.

What can affect the sentencing for an importation of controlled drugs offence?

There are various factors which can impact the sentencing for an importation of controlled drugs offence. One of the key factors that will be considered is the culpability, as in, at what level was the individual involved in the drugs operation. Another key factor is the extent of potential harm associated with the offence, this is generally judged by the quantity of drugs and the class.

The prosecutor will seek to determine whether the defendant has played a lesser role, or a more significant role in the operation. Naturally, those who have played a more significant role are likely to receive a harsher sentence. Examples of significant roles include organisation of the overall operation, or managing a supply chain.

What counts as conspiracy to import drugs into the UK?

Drug offences that involve importing controlled drugs or illegal drugs can sometimes involve an element of conspiracy, depending on the case.

Conspiracy to important drugs into the UK is a type of offense where two individuals or more have planned to transport controlled drugs or illegal drugs into the UK. Such offences count as a conspiracy where the individuals have committed to doing so, and worked towards achieving the outcome. Consequently, you can be convicted of this offence whether or not the importation was a success.

Contact our criminal law defence solicitors today

If you have been charged with importing drugs into the UK, you must seek experienced legal advice immediately.  For urgent specialist advice, prompt representation or to speak to us confidentially about any criminal matter, please do not hesitate to contact one of our dedicated team of criminal defence lawyers in London, Birmingham, and Manchester by telephone:

Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

In Urgent Cases

For immediate representation and advice concerning the importation of controlled drugs, you can contact our Emergency Number: 07836 577 556 and we will provide you with the urgent assistance you need.

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