Drug Offence Lawyers in Toronto

Protect Your Rights with Experienced Drug Offence Lawyers

If you find yourself facing a drug offence charge in the Greater Toronto Area, understanding the gravity of the situation and seeking knowledgeable legal guidance is crucial. Drug charges, such as possession, trafficking, production, or import/export, carry significant legal and personal consequences. 

Engaging experienced criminal lawyers can be pivotal in navigating the complexities of your case and mitigating potential long-term impacts, such as harsh prison sentences, substantial fines, and enduring marks on your criminal record. The implications of a drug conviction can extend beyond the courtroom, potentially affecting your employment opportunities, educational pursuits, and international travel freedoms. 

At Pyzer Criminal Lawyers, we fiercely defend your rights and relentlessly pursue the best possible outcome for your case. We provide clear, insightful legal guidance every step of the way.

What are the  Drug Laws in Ontario?

Ontario's approach to drug offences is structured under the broader framework of Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). This act categorizes offences into two primary types: indictable offences, which are more serious and carry heavier penalties, and summary offences, which are less severe and often result in lighter sentences. The CDSA defines drug possession in Ontario as a hybrid offence, meaning the prosecution may choose to treat it as either an indictable or summary offence based on factors like the type and quantity of the drug, as well as any previous charges against the defendant. This flexibility in the prosecution's approach allows for a more nuanced and context-dependent handling of drug possession cases, taking into account the specific circumstances of each case.

The CDSA also classifies drugs according to their perceived danger and potential for abuse. The schedules range from Schedule I, which includes drugs with no accepted medical use, to Schedule VIII, which includes drugs with a low potential for abuse and accepted medical use. For example, drugs listed under Schedule I would include substances like heroin and cocaine and attract the most severe penalties, while those under subsequent schedules may result in comparatively milder legal consequences. Understanding the intricacies of these classifications and the potential implications of each can be critical for anyone charged with a drug-related offence in Ontario.

CTA Solo Jonathan Pyzer
Protect Your Freedom With An
Experienced Toronto Criminal Lawyer

The Role of a Criminal Lawyer in Drug Offence Cases

If you’re faced with drug charges, a seasoned criminal lawyer becomes a crucial ally, guiding your case toward the best possible outcome. Experienced drug offence lawyers understand the nuances of drug offence cases and use various legal strategies to defend you effectively.

The process typically begins with a detailed assessment of your situation, where the lawyer gathers all relevant facts and evidence. This initial phase is critical for developing a defence strategy tailored to the specifics of your case. Lawyers also focus on securing favourable bail conditions, which is often the first major hurdle in a drug offence case. Your lawyer will advocate for your release and work to minimize any restrictions or conditions imposed upon you.

A key aspect of a criminal lawyer’s role is challenging the legality of the evidence obtained by law enforcement. This includes questioning the methods used during drug seizures and ensuring that the defendant’s Charter Rights are upheld throughout the process. 

Moreover, criminal lawyers play a vital role in the courtroom by highlighting the burdens the Crown must meet to establish guilt. In drug cases, proving possession, intent, and knowledge requires that the prosecution make a clear and convincing argument supported by substantial evidence. Your lawyer will challenge the Crown's case, scrutinizing every piece of evidence and witness testimony. They will identify weaknesses, inconsistencies, and procedural errors, working to cast doubt on the prosecution's narrative.

Lastly, negotiation skills are an essential part of a criminal lawyer's toolkit. Whether it's negotiating for reduced charges or arguing for alternative sentencing, a lawyer's ability to negotiate effectively can often lead to less severe penalties or even the dismissal of charges under certain circumstances.

The involvement of a seasoned criminal lawyer is instrumental in navigating the complexities of drug offence cases. Their knowledge, experience, and negotiation skills can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

How Can a Criminal Lawyer Win A Drug Possession Charge?

Different Types of Drug Charges We Defend Against

At Pyzer Criminal Lawyers, we provide robust legal defence against a spectrum of drug charges. From the possession of controlled substances to more severe allegations such as trafficking, production, or import/export, our team is equipped to handle cases involving any category of drugs outlined in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Possession of a Prohibited or Controlled Substance (s. 4)

Possession of a controlled substance is the most common drug charge in Ontario. It covers a wide array of substances from Schedules I to IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The law distinguishes between simple possession, intended for personal use, and possession for the purpose of trafficking, each carrying significantly different legal implications. 

Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Trafficking (s. 4)

Possession for the purpose of trafficking is a more serious charge than simple possession and applies when there is evidence suggesting that the drugs were intended for sale or distribution. This is particularly true when it involves drugs listed in Schedules I and II, such as opioids and cocaine. These offences are treated with heightened seriousness due to their potential societal impact, often attracting a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, underscoring the strict stance that Canadian law takes on drug distribution.

Trafficking in a Prohibited or Controlled Substance (s. 5)

The CDSA defines "traffic" as the activities involving substances listed in Schedules I to V. This involves selling, giving, administering, transporting, sending, or delivering a controlled substance. The penalties for drug trafficking are usually more severe than those for simple possession and can include significant fines and imprisonment.

Drug Production and Unlicensed Grow Ops (s. 7)

The production of illegal drugs, including the operation of unlicensed grow ops, is rigorously prohibited under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). This targets activities such as manufacturing, synthesizing, cultivating, and other processes related to substances listed in Schedules I through IV, unless legally authorized. It's worth noting that legal authorization is rare and typically granted only for specific research or medical purposes under strict conditions.

Drug production, particularly of Schedule I substances like opioids, can lead to severe penalties, including life imprisonment. Factors that exacerbate legal consequences include the operation's scale, the use of hazardous chemicals or methods, and the involvement of minors in the production process.

Drug Importing and Exporting (s. 6)

The importing and exporting of controlled substances are serious offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) in Canada, particularly substances listed in Schedules I and II. These activities are strictly regulated to prevent illegal drugs from crossing Canadian borders, whether entering or leaving the country. The CDSA mandates minimum sentences for these crimes, which can vary significantly depending on the quantity of drugs involved and the presence of aggravating factors. 

Defending Against Drug Offence Charges in Toronto

Our team is well-versed in the array of defences available to those accused of drug-related crimes. This includes challenging the validity of evidence, raising procedural issues, and invoking constitutional protections. Our goal is to ensure that every avenue for defence is explored to protect our client's rights and aim for the best possible outcome under the law. Some common defences and strategies we employ include:

Prove Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

In Canadian criminal law, the Crown has the burden of proof to establish the defendant's guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." This high standard is particularly crucial in drug offence cases, where the specifics of possession, intent, and knowledge must be proven with certainty.

For a possession charge, the legal definition detailed in section 4(3) of the Criminal Code stipulates that the prosecution must demonstrate that the accused had control over the drug, was aware of its presence, and had the intent to possess it. Ownership of the substance is not required to fulfill the criteria for possession. The precise elements that the Crown must establish include physical possession or control, awareness of the substance's presence, and intent to possess as defined under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act schedules.

Insufficient Possession

The defence of "insufficient possession" is grounded in the principle that the mere presence of a drug does not necessarily equate to legal possession under the law. This argument is particularly relevant in scenarios where the quantity of the drug found is minimal or where there is ambiguity regarding an individual's control over the substance.

The legal doctrine of de minimis non curat lex, which translates to "the law does not concern itself with trifles," can be applicable in cases where the amounts of the substance involved are so small that they do not justify the full force of the law. This defence argues that the quantity of the substance is so insignificant that it does not warrant criminal prosecution..

Additionally, this defence often involves situations where the accused had a valid license or authorization to possess the drug, which must be recognized legally. For example, this could apply to individuals who are legally allowed to possess certain controlled substances for medicinal purposes under specific regulations. In such cases, the defence would focus on demonstrating the legality of the possession and adherence to any relevant regulations.

Factual Innocence

The defence of factual innocence is critical in cases where an individual is wrongfully accused of possessing drugs. This defence hinges on demonstrating that the accused had no knowledge of the presence of the controlled substance or any control over it. In legal terms, knowledge and control are essential components of possession. The prosecution must establish that the accused was aware of the substance’s presence and had some degree of control over it. This defence strategy may involve providing an alibi, presenting evidence that the drugs belonged to someone else, or demonstrating that the defendant was falsely accused.


Entrapment is a defence used in criminal law to challenge the conduct of law enforcement during the investigation of a crime. This defence is applicable when an individual is induced to commit an offence by authorities that they would not have otherwise committed. In drug offence cases, entrapment can occur during undercover operations where law enforcement agents may use persuasion or other tactics that go beyond merely providing an opportunity to commit a crime. The burden of proving entrapment generally falls on the defendant. They must provide enough evidence to convince the judge or jury that they were induced to commit the crime and would not have done so without the government's influence.

Violation of Constitutional Rights

The defence based on the violation of constitutional rights centers on the protections afforded under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This defence is crucial in drug offence cases where there may be concerns about how law enforcement conducts their investigations or interactions with the accused.

This approach involves examining whether the defendant’s rights were compromised during the process, such as through unlawful search and seizure, unlawful detention, or improper conduct during arrest. For example, if law enforcement conducted a search without a warrant or with an invalid warrant, or if the accused was not promptly informed of their right to counsel, these actions can be challenged as breaches of the Charter.

Get your defence started. Speak to an experienced assault lawyer.

Get a free Case Evaluation

Penalties for Drug Offence Conviction

Understanding the penalties for drug offences in Canada is essential for anyone facing these charges. The consequences of a drug offence conviction can be severe and life-altering, varying significantly based on the schedule of substance involved (each schedule has different maximum penalties), whether it's a first or subsequent offence, and the legal proceedings pursued by the Crown. 

Penalties for Possession

Penalties for drug possession in Canada vary, depending on whether the offence is prosecuted as a summary conviction or an indictable offence. A summary conviction can result in a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in jail, typically for less serious cases involving smaller amounts of drugs. Indictable offences carry harsher penalties, with up to seven years in prison for cases involving larger quantities or more dangerous substances like those in Schedule I or II. It should be noted, however, that for both summary and indictable offences the maximum penalty can be higher if the offender has prior convictions. Additionally, the type of drug (Schedule I, II, etc.) can influence the sentence, even within the same category of offence (summary or indictable).

Penalties for Trafficking

The penalties for drug trafficking in Canada are severe and can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the type and quantity of the drug, the individual's role in the offence, and any aggravating factors. For Schedule I and II substances like cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl, the penalties can range from a mandatory minimum sentence of one or two years imprisonment to life imprisonment.  Factors that can increase penalties include large quantities of drugs, involvement with organized crime, and trafficking near schools or involving minors.

Penalties for Production

The penalties for producing controlled substances in Canada are severe and vary depending on the type and quantity of the drug, the scale and sophistication of the operation, and any aggravating or mitigating factors. For Schedule I substances like methamphetamine and heroin, the maximum penalty is life imprisonment, with mandatory minimum sentences of one or two years in certain circumstances. Factors such as the scale of production, use of hazardous chemicals, and whether the operation was intended for trafficking significantly affect the sentence's severity. Additionally, production near protected areas like schools or involving minors can lead to mandatory minimum sentences.

Contact an Experienced Drug Offence Lawyer Today

If you or someone you know is facing a drug offence charge, it's crucial to act swiftly and seek professional legal assistance. At Pyzer Criminal Lawyers, we understand the complexities and challenges of drug offence cases and are dedicated to providing robust legal representation. 

Our team of experienced lawyers is well-versed in navigating the Canadian legal system and is committed to advocating for your rights and achieving the best possible outcome for your specific case. Contact us today to discuss your situation in confidence and learn how we can assist you in this critical time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of drugs that are considered illegal in Canada?

In Canada, the CDSA categorizes illegal drugs into eight schedules based on their potential for abuse and harm. Schedule I includes the most harmful drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, while Schedule II covers cannabis and its derivatives. Substances like amphetamines and barbiturates fall into Schedule III, and benzodiazepines and other tranquillizers are listed under Schedule IV. The classification extends to lesser-known or less harmful substances in Schedules V and VI, which include various compounds used in the production of other drugs. These schedules help define the legal framework for prosecution and penalties related to the possession, trafficking, and production of these substances.

What are the Differences between drug possession and drug trafficking?

Drug possession and drug trafficking are distinct offences under Canadian law, primarily differentiated by the intent behind the drug's handling. Possession refers to having physical control over a drug, typically for personal use, and is generally considered less severe, with penalties adjusted according to the drug type and amount. Trafficking, on the other hand, involves the intent to distribute, sell, or transport drugs, marking it as a more serious offence due to its impact on public health and safety. Trafficking charges often carry harsher penalties, including longer prison terms and more significant fines, reflecting the greater societal risk associated with distributing controlled substances.

What factors will the court consider in assessing the seriousness of the drug offence?

When assessing the seriousness of a drug offence, Canadian courts consider several factors, including the type and quantity of the drug involved, the presence of aggravating circumstances such as proximity to schools or the involvement of minors, and the defendant's prior criminal history. The intent behind possessing or distributing the drug also plays a crucial role, with trafficking intended for profit or linked to organized crime viewed more harshly. By meticulously evaluating these factors, the court aims to impose a sentence that appropriately reflects the gravity of the offence, the offender's level of culpability, and the need to protect public safety and deter future crimes. The resulting penalties can range from fines and community service for less severe offences to lengthy imprisonment for major trafficking operations or offences involving highly dangerous substances.

Tell us about your case
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram