Canadian drug laws are numerous, complicated and ever-changing. From the legalization of marijuana, to the changes in the laws dealing with search warrants, dealing with a criminal drug matter requires detailed knowledge of many subject-matters. That's why if you've been charged with a drug offence, you shouldn't plead guilty or try and represent yourself. At LawyerSelect.ca, we work with many Toronto Drug Lawyers who have experience defending persons charged with simple possession, possession for the purpose, cultivation, trafficking and smuggling.
An experienced Toronto Drug Lawyer can help you:
First and foremost, the Crown Attorney will have to prove to the court that the substance in question is, in fact, an illegal drug. This may seem obvious, but it is an absolutely essential step in the prosecution, which can get very tricky. The Crown will actually have to have the substance tested in a certified laboratory, and present the accused with a Certificate of Analyst evidencing the substance's identity. The laboratory technician who conducted the test may be called to testy at trial.
In addition, the Crown will also have to prove that the accused was, in fact, in possession of the illegal substance. The law distinguishes between different types of possession: there is actual possession, constructive possession, and imputed possession. The various forms of possession are too complicated to explain here, but for actual possession, the Crown will need to prove (1) that the accused knew what the substance was, and (2) that the accused exercised some measure of control over the substance. This can be tricky to prove, but experienced Toronto Drug Lawyers will exploit the deficiencies in the Crown's evidence. LawyerSelect.ca is a free Toronto Lawyer Referral Service that can put you in touch with the most suitable Toronto Drug Lawyer for your case.
How does the Crown Prove Knowledge?
It's not enough for the Crown to prove that you were in possession of an illegal substance at the time in question. They've also got to prove (1) that you knew you were in possession of the substance, and (2) that you knew what the substance was. Take this scenario as an example: I loan a friend my jacket, and he returns in to me with cocaine in the pocket. I'm pulled over and legally searched by a police officer, who discovers the illicit item. A person in that situation cannot be said to have knowledge of possession. But lack of knowledge can also exist with respect to the nature of the substance involved. By that I mean, a person who possess a green, leafy substance believing it to be oregano cannot be said to have knowledge of the nature of the drug.
So as I mentioned above, the concept of possession is tricky and complicated. The type of possession discussed so far is known as actual possession. There is, however, something called constructive possession. The Crown will still need to prove the same two elements for constructive possession, namely that the accused had both knowledge and control over the drug. But because in this situation, the accused is not actually in physical possession of the drug, knowledge and possession will have to be inferred by the court through other evidence. For example, if a passenger in a vehicle is found to be sitting next to an illegal substance that was in plain view, then the Crown could make the argument that both knowledge and possession exist. However, if the substance wasn't in plain view of the accused, then the court may refuse to infer knowledge and possession.
The issue of police searches comes up very often in drug cases. This is an area of the law that is under tremendous scrutiny, and has undergone major changes over the past 35 years. It requires an experienced and skilled Toronto Drug Lawyer with training in this area of law to fully understand.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees every citizen the right to be free from unreasonable police searches, and the right not to be stopped and detained arbitrarily by police. Sadly, however, these fundamental constitutional rights aren't always followed by police. Particularly vulnerable are minority groups and young persons, who, statistics show, are disproportionately stopped by police and unreasonably searched. Whether it was your car that got searched, or your condo, or even your work locker, the court may find that the stop was arbitrary, or the search was unreasonable. The effect of that finding is that the court will exclude any evidence that was obtained as a result of that search or that stop. This is what Drug Lawyers in Toronto call a "Charter Challenge" and if successful, the evidence that was unconstitutionally obtained will be excluded from admissibility at the trial.
At LawyerSelect.ca, we work with some of Toronto's best Drug Lawyers who have the experience and the resources necessary to identify viable defences and launch successful Charter Challenges. Let us help you in your search for a Toronto Drug Lawyer.
Challenging the legality of a search warrant is the bread and butter of every skilled Toronto Drug Lawyer. They'll tell you that even if police obtained a search warrant prior to conducting the search, that it still may be possible to challenge the basis upon which the warrant was issued.
In Canada, most search warrants are authorized by a Justice of the Peace, and while they are very skilled legal practitioners, most are not lawyers. This sometimes posses a problem, as the the law relating to search warrants is ever so complicated and beyond the scope of understanding of many Justices of the Peace.
Nevertheless, many Toronto Drug Lawyers have successfully challenged the basis upon which the issuing Justice approved the warrant. If the reviewing judge determines that the information obtained by and relied upon by the officers involved was unreliable or inaccurate, then the warrant may be invalidated, and thus, any substances found or information gathered as a result of that warrant will also be ruled inadmissible.
Imposing sentences for drug-related crimes is a tough endeavor. Obviously, the severity of the sentence will have to do with the severity of the drug charges that you're facing. As a general rule, the court will conduct an examination into the circumstances of the accused, in conjunction with the nature and quantity of the drug, and the reason that the accused was in possession of it. These considerations are relevant because the court will usually treat drug addicts more leniently than drug dealers and those in it for monetary gain. Another general rule is that those who were found in possession of harder drugs will receive lengthier sentences than those found in possession of softer drugs. By extension, those found in possession of larger quantities of the drug will attract lengthier sentences than those in possession of smaller quantities.
Recent changes to the criminal drug laws have meant that certain crimes carry a minimum sentence upon conviction. The effect of that is to remove discretion from the hands of judges, who will not be able to be lenient when it may be appropriate. This makes it very important for anyone facing criminal drug charges to consult with a Toronto Drug Lawyer, so as to avoid the possibility of a lengthy minimum sentence. At LawyerSelect.ca, we work with many Toronto Drug Lawyers who are experienced defending those charged with criminal drug offences. Click the button below to request a free, personalized referral to a Toronto Drug Lawyer.