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Drug Charges Lawyer in Toronto

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Drug Charges Lawyer in Toronto

Before you make the decision to represent yourself, even for what you think is a minor drug charge, consider what follows Criminal Defence Litigation Law. A minor Controlled Drug and Substances conviction can have serious and long-term consequences on your life. If you end up with a criminal record, different aspects of your life will be affected, including your ability to gain employment, or to travel internationally.

Defending Drug Possession Charges in Toronto

The Federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) lists different categories of illegal drugs, which include heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines. It is illegal to knowingly have these drugs in your possession at any time, whether they belong to you or not. Cannabis (marijuana) is no longer considered an illegal drug. However, there are legal limits on how much cannabis one can possess. Also, some provinces and territories in Canada have placed the minimum age requirement for possession of cannabis at 19. The penalties for drug possession will depend on whether the illegal substance is listed on Schedule I, II, III or IV in the CDSA.

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Drug Trafficking

A person can be charged with drug trafficking if found to sell, administer, give, transfer, send or deliver illegal drugs to another. This means that even the act of buying illegal drugs and delivering them to a friend can be considered drug trafficking according to Canadian law.

Accepting an offer to traffic illegal drugs can also be considered drug trafficking. Even if the person who was offering to obtain the drugs had no possibility of accessing them, the accused can still be found guilty of trafficking. Common cases involve individuals who accept to sell drugs to undercover officers. Even if the intention was not to deliver or sell the drugs, the person may still be charged with drug trafficking. The Optics in each scenario are key.

Another common scenario involves someone who sells an item disguised to look like drugs such as, baby powder, but it is not an actual illegal drug. This person may also be charged with a criminal offence of drug trafficking so long as it is proven that s/he held out or represented the substances as an illegal drug. Remember that charges are mere allegations, so allow us to consider and suggest these options to you.

Drug Possession

To be found guilty of drug possession, the prosecutor must prove that, you had physical custody of the drug, and that you knew the drug was illegal. This means that if the drug is found somewhere on your body or in a place that you control (such as your car or home), you may be charged with drug possession.

Being charged with possession does not require personally having the drug. You may be charged even if you are with someone with an illegal drug. A group of people may be found guilty of joint possession. This is a common case that occurs when one person in a group is holding drugs and others are aware or assist in controlling them.

Drug possession is a hybrid offence which simply means that it could be treated as a (less serious) summary offence or (a more serious) indictable offence.

The prosecutor’s decision on how to treat your case will depend on a number of factors such as:

• The type of illegal drug you have been charged with

• The quantity of the substance

• The purpose of possessing the drug

• The level of planning and deliberation pertaining to the offence

• Whether it was your first time being charged with possession

• Whether you were found trafficking other drugs

For instance, if it was your first time and you were found with a small quantity of a ‘’soft’’ drug, your case will be treated as a summary conviction offence. You face being convicted of an indictable offence if found with a more serious drug, like heroin.

Possible Penalties for Drug Possession

If your case is treated as a summary conviction offence, you face a fine of $1,000 or 6 months in jail if it was your first offence. If not, you face a maximum penalty of $2,000 and 1 year in prison. First-time offenders of soft drugs can face lower penalties ranging between $250 and $5,000 as well as probation. You of course face up to 5 years in prison if found with larger amounts of illegal drugs.

On the other hand, if found in possession of more serious drugs ‘Schedule 1’ drugs under the CDSA, you face lengthier prison terms.

Drug Production/Cultivation

This is a charged imposed when one is found growing or producing drugs. This also includes anyone who assists in the growth or production process. For instance, if a property owner knows and allows his/her premise to be used in drug production, he may also face drug cultivation-related charges.

Wilful Blindness

This is a situation where one escapes criminal liability by intentionally overlooking the obvious. It has been described as a state of “deliberate ignorance”. To determine whether there has been wilful blindness, one must prove that the accused deliberately and intentionally did not inquire so as not to have his/her suspicions confirmed.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Serious Drug Offences in Canada

The federal government enforced the Safe Streets & Communities Act, which has provisions that establish minimum penalties for serious drug offences. These are established for organized crime purposes. This includes offences that target the youth as well as a variety of other scenarios.

Mandatory minimum penalties for drug offences generally apply in the following circumstances where there exists the following aggravating factors:

• For the benefit of organised crime

• When the charges involve a threat of violence, or use of weapons

• When the accused has been previously convicted of a drug offence in the past 10 years

• When the accused is found to have abused a position of authority

• When a youth was involved in the commission of the offence.

Some charges, such as drug production or importation of a Schedule 1 substance, will trigger a mandatory minimum penalty, even if aggravating factors are not present.

We are sensitive to the fact that every circumstance is different, and our lawyers understand that what you are going through is stressful. We are willing to offer you help each step of the way. We have extensive experience defending individuals who are accused of drug crimes. We have helped numerous people and their families to secure the withdrawal of charges, minimal sentences, and reasonable plea bargains. Get in touch with us today to understand your rights and legal options.

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