Drug and Narcotics Offences in Germany

Lawyers for German Criminal Law

Drug and Narcotics Offences in Germany

Lawyers for German Criminal Law

Narcotics and drug offences make up a substantial part of the criminal proceedings pending in Germany today, and the sentences imposed in this area of law are usually severe. Once a narcotics offence has been entered into the criminal record, it often has harsh consequences for the person concerned. These are particularly evident in professional life: people with a criminal record are severely restricted in their choice of profession and job search. A previous drug conviction also impacts applying for visas or residence permits.

Even though the Narcotics Act (BtMG) specifies simple basic formulas for narcotics offences, this fact should not obscure that each offence consists of several complex elements. Due to the constantly evolving case law, several “unwritten” aspects of the crime must be considered. Thus, a sound knowledge of substantive criminal law is regularly necessary to assess the individual case correctly.

Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte offers persons who have been confronted with the accusation of a narcotics offence or against whom preliminary proceedings are already pending expert and committed legal assistance. Our criminal law team comprises experienced criminal defence lawyers, including former public prosecutors.

Our expertise and years of experience ensure the best possible results for our clients. Please, do not hesitate to contact us today to benefit from our knowledge and commitment.

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How are Drug Offences regulated in Germany?

The essential norms regarding drug offences can be found in the German Narcotics Act (BtMG – Gesetz über den Verkehr mit Betäubungsmitteln). This law defines the nature of drug offences by specifying exactly which substances are prohibited and what sanctions are provided for the various narcotics offences. The prohibited substances are listed in Annexes I-III of the BtMG. They include hashish, marijuana, amphetamines, methamphetamines, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and LSD.

The narcotics law differentiates between the various narcotics and the corresponding quantities concerning the criminal consequences. This distinction enables an efficient criminal justice system where not all “drugs” are treated equally. Especially concerning the quantity taken, the differentiation between “soft“, “medium“, and “hard” drugs becomes clear. Khat, hashish and marijuana are so-called “soft drugs”, for which higher limits apply in principle. Ecstasy, amphetamine and methamphetamine are “medium” drugs. Cocaine and heroin, on the other hand, are considered “hard” drugs, for which even small amounts can lead to heavy criminal sanctions.

What is Considered a Drug Offence?

According to German legislation, most acts outside of actual drug use are also considered criminal offences. Thus, the purchase, sale and acquisition of drugs, their import and export, production and delivery are also punishable. The quantity of narcotics and the circumstances of the individual case are decisive for the penalties imposed.

Many people are not aware that the mere intention of drug trafficking is punishable as soon as criminal activity has been started. Therefore, if a sale of drugs ultimately fails, criminal liability does not cease based on the claim that the narcotics were not actually sold.

The Quantities Relevant under German Criminal Law

The BtMG differentiates between “small amounts” and “significant amounts”. In many cases, a small amount may lead to a discontinuation of the proceedings. If, on the other hand, it is a “significant amount” within the meaning of § 29a BtMG, the accused could face severe punishment, as the crime in question is a crime for which the law provides for a prison sentence of not less than one year. The BtMG does not offer a legal term for a “normal amount”.

The “normal amount” is instead to be determined between the limits of the “small amount” and the “significant amount” for the respective narcotics. For ecstasy (MDMA/MDE/MDEA/MDA), for example, the limit of the small quantity is 3 units of consumption, i.e. 3 pills. The significant amount is set at 250 units of consumption. This demonstrates that the amount deemed to be “above normal” or “significant” can be determined during the proceedings.

The legal assessment is always linked to the net weight of the substance that promotes intoxication. Therefore, this means that the possession or trade of “bad grass” may not be punished as severely as that of “good grass”. In this respect, the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content is what counts. The THC content of marijuana usually is around 17-18%. However, there are considerable fluctuations, with the THC content being between 10-30% within marijuana.

Caught with Drugs in Germany: How to Respond

If you are caught with drugs in Germany, it’s essential to approach the situation carefully and follow appropriate steps to protect your rights and legal interests. A wrong move can prove to be detrimental to your case.

Therefore, firstly, make sure to stay calm and composed. Cooperate with law enforcement officers without answering their questions or providing unnecessary information. Exercise your rights, including your right to remain silent to avoid incriminating yourself while under duress. Avoid making any statements that could be interpreted as admitting guilt. You have a right to work with a legal professional, and it is crucial to exercise that right at this time.

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