Drug Offences

What You Need to Know

Convictions for illegal drug offences often come with mandatory minimum jail sentences. Even a felony surrounding the possession, production, and trafficking of marijuana may carry mandatory minimum jail sentences (for example, growing as little as six plants can result in a 6-month jail term, if you are found guilty). Furthermore, conditional sentencing orders (house arrest) has been almost entirely eliminated in recent changes to the Canadian drug laws.

There is good news, however. Drug charges in Canada often give rise to a number of complex and sophisticated legal issues, on which our criminal lawyers can build a solid defence strategy. The courts must prove several key factors in order to get a conviction, which provides opportunities to find errors and inconsistencies in arrest procedures. Showing intent and the validity of the alleged substance in question are just two examples. Our drug attorneys can provide you with legal advice on the best path to take.

Implications

Sentencing for drug charges is harsh, and there are mandatory minimums depending on the offence. Convictions for trafficking in Schedule I (cocaine, morphine, oxycodone), or II (marijuana, resin, etc.) substances routinely results in jail sentences. The possibility of a conditional sentence order, or “house arrest” has been almost entirely eliminated by recent changes to drug laws in Canada. This means that regardless of the circumstances, you will go to jail if you are convicted.

In addition to the threat of being deprived of your liberty, you also face the possibility of being labelled as a “criminal” and losing your ability to travel abroad. A single conviction for possession of a small amount of contraband, such as marijuana, may prevent you from entering the United States forever.

How We Can Help

Given the number of legal complexities surrounding drug cases, you will need experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel. Our top Calgary drug lawyers will work to secure the best possible outcome for your case.

Strategies For Defence

If you’ve been caught with drugs, our firm can assist you in a variety of strategies to defend your drug charges:

  • Alternative Measures Program: If you are found in possession of a small amount of a narcotic, a Crown Prosecutor may refer you to the Alternative Measures Program. This program allows you to complete community service in exchange for your charges being dropped. Our lawyers can help negotiate this outcome and guide you through the program.
  • Going to Trial: Taking your matter to trial means that a Crown Prosecutor will attempt to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Drug cases are complex and almost never black and white. More often than not, there will be evidentiary and legal issues at trial that will give rise to a drug defence.

If your case goes to trial, the charges against you can be defended in a number of ways:

  • Challenging the facts at arrest: Where were the drugs found? Can the Crown prove that the drugs belonged to you or were in your possession? Is the manner in which the drugs were found suggestive that they were to be sold? Was the quantity of drug found great enough to infer that it was possessed for the purpose of trafficking?
  • Interpreting the drug laws in your favour: We argue the law and precedent in a way that is most favourable to your specific case and fact scenario. This is achieved through careful and diligent legal research and application, which only comes with years of legal experience.
  • Applying Violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Every Canadian Citizen and every person within the borders of Canada is entitled to the protection of our Constitution, and more specifically to the rights guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Rights often violated by law enforcement officials include: your right to life, liberty, and security of the person; your right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures; your right to be free from arbitrary detention and your right to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right. A violation of your constitutionally protected rights and freedoms which results in evidence being seized (drugs, documents, weapons, money, etc.) could be excluded from evidence at your trial and may render it impossible for the Crown to prove the case against you.

Minimizing Your Drug Sentencing

In some cases, the best course of legal action may be to reduce the damage that may be done to you. Not all drug cases are defensible or result in acquittals. In these circumstances, our lawyers can help keep your sentence as lenient as possible. This could include any number of possibilities:

  • Avoiding a Criminal Record: In less serious drug cases it may be possible to argue for a conditional discharge if you are convicted. This means that it may be possible to avoid the imposition of a conviction on your criminal record despite the fact that you were found guilty.
  • Avoiding Jail Time: Where jail is a possibility our lawyers will paint the best picture possible of your personal circumstances in an effort to avoid the possibility of incarceration. Often this will mean you will receive a fine or a period of probation.
  • Reducing Jail Time: In those circumstances where jail is unavoidable, the goal will be to keep any potential jail sentence as low as possible to ensure that your freedom is affected as minimally as possible.

Call us. We can help.
If you have been charged with cocaine or marijuana possession, intent to distribute, trafficking, or any other drug offence, give our Calgary lawyers a call. Your freedom is our focus.

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