Do First-Time Drug Offenders Go to Jail? banner


Home / Blog / Do First-Time Drug Offenders Go to Jail?

Do First-Time Drug Offenders Go to Jail?

In the UK, first-time drug offenders may or may not go to jail, depending on the specifics of their case.

While jail time is possible, the legal system often looks for alternatives, especially for minor offences and for offenders without a criminal history. Factors such as the type and amount of drugs involved and the individual's record can impact this decision.

Sometimes, first-time offenders might get a caution, community service, or a suspended sentence instead of jail.

In the following article, we will discuss what counts as possession, the charges you may expect as a first-time drug offender and how our drug offences and possession solicitors can help you.

What first-time drug offences can someone be charged for?

In the UK, there are a number of drug charges you could face, even as a first-time offender. The four drug offences to be aware of are:

  • Possession
  • Supply
  • Production
  • Importation

What are the charges for first-time drug offenders?

The charges for first-time drug offenders depend on a number of factors. These include the nature of the offence, the classification of the drug and the amount of drugs involved. Various other aggravating and mitigating factors will also be taken into consideration when it comes to charges for drug offences.

The judge or magistrates handling a case will use sentencing guidelines to determine what sentence would be appropriate.

Generally, the maximum sentence an individual, including a first-time offender, could receive for a drug offence would be:

  • Seven years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both for possession
  • A substantial prison sentence, unlimited fine, or both, for supply, production and importation

It is very unlikely that the maximum sentence will be handed out for a first-time offence, though it is not impossible under certain parameters. A lack of previous convictions will typically act as a significant mitigating factor when it comes to sentencing.

How do classes of drugs affect a charge for first-time offenders?

Class A drugs

These drugs are considered to be the most harmful and as such, drug offences involving these substances come with high penalties.

Class A drugs include substances such as:

  • Cocaine
  • Crack cocaine
  • Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • Magic mushrooms
  • Methadone
  • Methamphetamine (crystal meth)

Class B drugs

Class B drugs are considered slightly safer than Class A but more dangerous than Class C drugs. This includes substances such as:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cannabis
  • Codeine
  • Ketamine
  • Synthetic cannabinoids

Class C drugs

Despite being considered the least dangerous class of drugs, being found in possession of Class C drugs is still against the law and will have consequences. Class C drugs include substances such as:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Benzodiazepines (diazepam)
  • Khat
  • Piperazines (BZP)

Will first time drug offenders have charges dropped?

Whether it is possible for first-time drug offenders to have charges dropped will depend on the type of offence they are said to have committed and whether mitigating factors are present.

Offences that are considered to be less serious (such as possession) are more likely to be treated leniently by prosecuting authorities, as well as offences which involve a less serious class of drugs.

What are the alternative punishments for first time drug offences?

Prison sentences are not a certainty for first-time drug offences, but there are also various other penalties which could apply. This includes fines, community resolutions and conditional cautions.

Can first time offenders be charged without drugs in their possession?

Many people do not realise that, just because there is no physical evidence that you were in possession of a controlled drug, it does not mean that charges cannot be brought forward.

Even as a first-time offender, you could be subject to a conspiracy charge. This would relate to an agreement between two or more parties to carry out a criminal act (such as supplying drugs).

Any evidence that suggests a plan was in place could be used to support a conspiracy charge.

How can our drug offences solicitors help?

At Wells Burcombe, our solicitors have extensive experience in dealing with cases related to drug offences. Our team can help minimise the impact of your offence and help you understand what to expect moving forward.

No matter how simple or complex your situation may be, our solicitors can provide expert support and guidance – helping to reduce the severity of any sentence or fine imposed in the event of a conviction.

If you need help defending against allegations of a drug offence, contact us today in London (West Drayton) on 01895 449288 or in Hertfordshire (St Albans) on 01727 840900 or email us at

    Get in touch

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA. The Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.