Police at Splendour in the Grass 2018.
Police at Splendour in the Grass 2018. Marc Stapelberg

Don't self-represent on Splendour drug charges, lawyer warns

A LAWYER has urged those who found themselves with criminal charges after Splendour in the Grass to seek legal advice.

North Coast defence lawyer Carl Edwards said many young adults would be facing their first criminal charge after the festival.

"While there are plenty of online legal resources to help you do this, the reality is that the pitfalls for self-representing litigants are many and varied," Mr Edwards said.

"The most common myth is that Magistrates will guide you through your court appearance."

Mr Edwards said Magistrates were there to be "fully impartial", not to give defendants directions on how to achieve specific results.

Many represent themselves in the Northern Rivers' courts each week, but Mr Edwards warned simply asking for a Section 10 judgment, where no criminal conviction is recorded, was not enough.

"Charges of possession of prohibited drugs or deemed drug supply are very serious," he said.

"The penalties can include imprisonment or having a criminal conviction recorded.

"A criminal record affects your eligibility for several types of professional licences, can stop you from travelling overseas and can even ruin your career, with many employers now seeking national criminal history checks.

"The courts can and do consider a raft of surrounding circumstances to your offence, and about your character, before handing down its decision.

"You can't necessarily Google your way out of a conviction."

Police issued 115 festival-goers with court attendance notices for 148 drug offences at this year's Splendour in the Grass.

Two people were charged with supplying a prohibited drug, including a 25-year-old man allegedly found with 57 tablets of MDMA and cash in his possession.

Police also issued 38 cannabis cautions and five youth cautions.

Drug detections were down from Splendour in the Grass 2017, where 267 people were charged with drug offences, including 12 people charged with drug supply.

Police issued 75 cannabis cautions last year.