Drug Offences

Drug Offences

                Overview

Drug offences in Canada are brought under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (“CDSA”) by the Federal government. The Federal government is represented by crown counsel who work for the Public Prosecution Services of Canada (“PPSC”).

Offences under the CDSA can range from possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, production of a controlled substance, importation and many other charges.

Drug offences are a complex area of law, often involving issues related to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, expert analysis, and informants. Drug charges are further complicated by the fact that depending on the nature of the charge and the type of substance involved, if convicted of an offence, you could be facing a mandatory minimum sentence – meaning that the court may be forced to impose a minimum jail term, even if it is your first offence.

The lawyers at Cote & Evans Trial Lawyers are experienced in dealing with a variety of offences under the CDSA and can assist you in providing the best defence to your drug charges.

                Possession of a Prohibited Substance

A controlled substance is any substance, such as opium, methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, which has been listed as a controlled substance in the CDSA. Pursuant to s. 4 of the CDSA, it is an offence to possess a controlled substance.

If the PPSC proceeds on the charge by indictment, you may be punished by way of a jail sentence that can last a maximum of five or seven years, depending on the kind of drug you possessed. If the PPSC proceeds by way of summary conviction, you may receive a fine and/or a jail sentence, depending on the type of drug you possessed and the amount of times you have been convicted of this offence. If you are charged by indictment, you may face up to seven years in jail.

In order to prove possession, the crown must prove the following:

  • Your identity;
  • The date and time of the incident;
  • Where the incident took place;
  • That you knowingly possessed the controlled substance in question; and,
  • That you did not have any authority to possess this substance.

The lawyers at Cote & Evans Trial Lawyers can assist you in providing a robust defence and can also assist you in obtaining the best available sentence if you are convicted.

                Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking

Pursuant to s. 5(2) of the CDSA, it is an offence to traffic any controlled substance. Offences under s. 5 of the CDSA are punished harshly and the PPSC does not need to prove that you obtained financial benefit from the trafficking of a controlled substance. The PPSC will need to prove the following:

  • Your identity;
  • The date and time of the incident;
  • Where the incident took place;
  • That you knowingly possessed the controlled substance in question;
  • That you know that possession of the substance was illegal; and,
  • That you intended to traffic the substance in question.

As noted above, offences under s. 5 of the CDSA are harshly punished. The sentence imposed on you may depend on whether the Crown proceeded by indictment or by summary conviction and depends on the type of controlled substance that was found I your possession. Sentences can range widely, from a minor fine to a life sentence and as such, it is especially important to get legal advice immediately. If you are convicted, the lawyers at Cote & Evans Trial Lawyers can assist you in obtaining the best available sentence.                                    

                Importation and Exportation of a Controlled Substance

Under s. 6 of the CDSA, it is illegal to import or export a controlled substance into or outside of Canada unless you are authorized under the CDSA Regulations to do so. Depending on the type of controlled substance that you are accused of importing or exporting, the PPSC may charge you by indictment or by summary conviction. The PPSC will need to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • Your identity;
  • The date and time of the incident;
  • Where the incident took place;
  • That you imported or exported a controlled substance into or from Canada; and,
  • You had no authority to import or export this substance.

There are various defences that the lawyers at Cote & Evans Trial Lawyers can explore, including the defence of necessity, duress and entrapment. It is important to consult a lawyer to discuss possible defences or Charter claims because the penalties for importation or exportation of controlled substances can result in maximum penalties of incarceration for life.

                Production of a Prohibited Substance

Under s. 7 of the CDSA, it is illegal to make or produce a controlled substance unless you are authorized to do so under the CDSA regulations. To “produce” a substance means to manufacture, cultivate, synthesize or in any way alter the substance. In order to prove the offence beyond a reasonable doubt, the PPSC will need to prove:

  • Your identity;
  • The date and time of the incident;
  • Where the incident took place;
  • That you produced a controlled substance; and,
  • You were aware that it was illegal to do so.

Being convicted of an offence under s. 7 can lead to a mandatory minimum sentence or, if the circumstances warrant, a sentence of incarceration for life. As such, we strongly advise anyone who has been charged with an offence under the CDSA to get in touch with our office for a free consultation.

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