Drug Offences

In Canada, there are many criminal offences you can be charged with in relation to illegal drugs.
In Canada “illegal drugs” are referred to as “controlled substances” in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

Ways to defend drug offences

 

 

The CDSA is a statute defining all of the criminal offence charges one can face in relation to controlled substances .

The CDSA outlines criminal offences in relation to controlled substances for:

  • possession
  • trafficking
  • obtaining
  • producing
  • being a party to the trafficking of
  • importing
  • exporting
  • possession for the purpose of trafficking, and
  • possession for the purpose of exporting.

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Drug offences are particularly complex charges and possible sentences vary significantly. When the Court is determining the length and type of sentence for a particular offence the following is taken into consideration:

  • the type of illegal drug
  • the quantity of the substance
  • the purpose for its possession
  • the amount of planning and deliberation involved in the offence
  • the prior record of the offender; and
  • whether there was trafficking of other drugs involved.

Drug Offences In Canada

 

In the CDSA, controlled substances are classified according to different schedules that correspond with the “hardness” of the substance.

The Court views “harder” illegal drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, more seriously and convictions of offences in relation to such “hard drugs” carry more severe sentences than so-called “soft drugs” like psilocybin mushrooms (magic mushrooms).

The criminal offence of possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking and production are viewed more seriously by the court and will result in harsher punishment than a conviction of simple possession.

The criminal offence of trafficking is often misunderstood, as it has a broad scope that includes anything from selling large quantities of controlled substances to just sharing an illegal drug with another person.

Similarly, the criminal offences of possessions a broad scope that includes having personal possession of an illegal drug to being in the presence of someone who is in possession of drugs.

In order to prove the criminal offence of joint possession, the court must prove that the individual who did not have physical possession of the illegal drug in question nonetheless had knowledge, consent, and assisted control of the alleged illegal drug.

All criminal offence charges under the CDSA are serious allegations with serious consequences and because of this, it is important to be represented by an experienced criminal defence lawyer if you intend to fight the allegations.

At the law firm of Pyzer Criminal Lawyers, we have over 35 years experience defending CDSA drug offence allegations with a strong record of success.

Our office will help you pursue every viable defence against CDSA drug offence allegations to the furthest extent possible.

Do not plead guilty to any drug offence under the CDSA before you consult with a criminal defence lawyer at Kostman & Pyzer, Barristers.

Pyzer Criminal Lawyers drug offence lawyers have successfully defended clients facing a wide array of criminal charges under the CDSA, including more minor allegations such as simple possession of a drug for one’s own personal use, and more serious allegations such as “conspiracy” drug charges, possession of drugs for the purpose of cultivation or trafficking and trafficking in drugs.

If you are facing CDSA criminal offence charges, contact Pyzer Criminal Lawyers today for effective representation!

Have Drugs got you in Trouble with the Law?

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Experienced Drug Lawyer Toronto

We realize that for our clients facing criminal allegations in relation to controlled substances, the experience is typically extremely distressing, both for the person who is charged, as well as their families.

We defend all types of drug offences, from the young person caught with some illegal prescription drugs for their personal use to more serious drug conspiracy cases involving harder drugs, like heroin or cocaine.

Our law firm has extensive experience in this area of law as well as fraud and theft and sexual assault.

What Are the Potential Consequences of a Conviction of a CDSA Drug Offence In Ontario?

A conviction under the CDSA can result in severe criminal penalties.

Even a minor drug offence conviction can have serious, enduring consequences.
Depending on the nature of the offence and drug, the consequences can range from absolute discharges to very lengthy penitentiary sentences.

A criminal record for drug offences can impact many aspects of a person’s life, including:

  • employment opportunities
  • volunteers opportunities
  • Educational opportunities
  • travel
  • expensive fines
  • imprisonment
  • a permanent criminal record
  • being placed under financial strain, and
  • Damage to your reputation and social life

What Are the Potential Defences to Drug Offences Under the CDSA

There are many defences can be used to achieve an a withdrawal after pre-trial discussions or a dismissal or acquittal after trial.

At Pyzer Criminal Lawyers our extensive experience defending drugs offence allegations gives as invaluable insight into how the Crown prosecutes such offences.

Our experience allows us to analyze the evidence against and accused and come up with the strongest defence strategy possible.

In certain cases, a Kostman and Pyzer defence lawyer can argues that the accused’s right against unreasonable search and seizure, pursuant to section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was violated.

Ways to defend drug offences

If the Court is convinced that such a violation occurred the defence can argue that the evidence obtained as a result go the illegal search should be excluded pursuant to section 24(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In cases where the illegal drugs were seized by the police after the execution of a judicially authorized warrant, the lawyer can argue that the warrant should not have been authorized and that therefore the illegal substances seized ghouls be excluded from evidence.

In certain cases the lawyer can argue that because people other than accused had access and control over the space where the substances were found by the police that possession of the illegal substance cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

At Pyzer Criminal Lawyers our experienced drug offence defence lawyers can tailor the best defence strategy to effectively challenge the allegations you are facing.

Drug Offences and Bail:

After being arrested for a CDSA allegation, the accused may be held for a bail hearing.

At their bail hearing, whether or not the Crown Attorney will seek detention typically depends on the severity of the alleged offences and the criminal record of the accused.

At Pyzer Criminal Lawyers we will work to best ensure that the accused is released from custody at their bail hearing and on the least restrictive terms possible.

Experienced Toronto Drug Offence Lawyers

One of our experienced drug offence criminal defence lawyers can significantly improve the chances of having the charges against the accused withdrawn or acquitted.

With Pyzer Criminal Lawyers you will be represented by a skilled practitioner with significant experience defending drug offence allegations.

At Pyzer Criminal Lawyers, we are experienced and skilled criminal lawyers practicing criminal law in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area.

Making a full answer and defence to your criminal charges is our highest priority.

The criminal justice system can be a confusing and scary place for people facing drug offence charges. Let us guide you through the process.

We provide a free consultation and will discuss how to get the best possible results for your case.
Know your rights! If you, your family member or friend are charged criminally do not delay in contacting us. Call us today at (416) 658-1818!

Frequently Asked Questions About Drug Offences

How do I find a good drug lawyer in Ontario?

Drug offences in Canada are governed by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. A good drug lawyer will be familiar with this Act along with the Criminal Code of Canada.

A drug offence conviction can lead to expensive fines, imprisonment, and a criminal record for the rest of your life. It is important to find a defense counsel that you can trust who has handled previous matters regarding drug offences.

Toronto Drug Offence Lawyer

At Toronto Defence Lawyers, we have the experience and great familiarity of the wide range of drug offences and sentencing guidelines.

If you have been charged with a drug offence it is important to contact us immediately to discuss possible avenues of handling the matter.

Can I Win a Drug Charge?

With an experienced drug lawyer, a drug charge is able to be properly defended against, possibly dropped, or won at trial.

The sentencing for a drug offence depends on the action itself, such as possession, trafficking, importing/exporting, or production, as well as which Schedule the substance falls under for purposes of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). Some substances will hold higher penalties than others.

In order to properly assess if your charge has the possibility of being dropped or won at a trial, you must contact a defence lawyer immediately.

It is important to have a defence lawyer throughout the process to determine what defences may be applicable to your case and to assist you accordingly.

Drug offences can be very complicated and demand the attention of an experienced lawyer.

Need Help Defending a Drug Charge?

Book a FREE Consultation

or CALL: (416) 658-1818

What are the Sentences for Drug Charges?

Drug charges are outlined in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). The sentence for a drug charge will depend on the specific charge, for example, if the charge is a possession, importing/exporting, production, and/or trafficking. It will also depend on whether the charge is by way of indictment or summary.

The CDSA distinguishes between indictment and summary convictions. An indictment is a term used to define a more serious crime, while a summary conviction is of a less serious nature because they are punishable by shorter sentences and smaller fines.

Charges for drug crime in Canada

A sentence will also be decided based on the quantity of substance in the act, if there was violence, a past criminal record, and if the individual has personal circumstances such as mental health issues.

1) Possession

As per section 4(1) of the CDSA, no person shall possess a substance included in Schedule I, II or III (Schedules). Substances in the Schedules include a wide variety of drugs that may be normally prescribed, but can be abused, as well as those deemed recreational or “street” drugs. The sentence for possession depends on which drug is possessed, and which Schedule it belongs to.

Schedule I

As per section 4(3) of the CDSA, every person who violates the above section (Section 4 (1)) where the subject-matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule I:

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years; or

(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable

(i) for a first offence, to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both, and

(ii) for a subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both.

Examples of drugs found within Schedule I include codeine, oxycodone, and a variety of fentanyls.

Schedule II

As per section 4(4) of the CDSA, very person who violates Section 4 (1) where the subject-matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule II:

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years less a day; or

(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable

(i) for a first offence, to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both, and
(ii) for a subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both.

Schedule III

As per section 4(6) of the CDSA, very person who violates Section 4 (1) where the subject-matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule III:

a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years; or

(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable

(i) for a first offence, to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both, and

(ii) for a subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both.

Have Drugs got you in Trouble with the Law?

Book a FREE Consultation

or CALL: (416) 658-1818

2) Obtaining Substance

As per section 4(2) of the CDSA, no person shall seek or obtain

(a) a substance included in Schedule I, II, III or IV, or
(b) an authorization to obtain a substance included in Schedule I, II, III or IV

from a practitioner, unless the person discloses to the practitioner particulars relating to the acquisition by the person of every substance in those Schedules, and of every authorization to obtain such substances, from any other practitioner within the preceding thirty days.

This section concerns how an individual obtains the substance and an exception which would be a practitioner properly prescribing the drug to a patient.

The punishments for a violation of 4(2), outlined in section 7 of the CDSA, are also determinative on which Schedule the drug falls under and if it is done by way of an indictable or summary offence. The punishments are as follows:

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable

  • (i) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years, where the subject-matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule I,
  • (ii) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years less a day, where the subject-matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule II,
  • (iii) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, where the subject-matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule III, or
  • (iv) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months, where the subject-matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule IV; or

(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable

  • (i) for a first offence, to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both, and
  • (ii) for a subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both.
3) Trafficking

As per section 5(1) of the CDSA, no person shall traffic in a substance included in Schedule I, II, III, IV or V or in any substance represented or held out by that person to be such a substance.

The CDSA defines “traffic” includes any substance found within Schedules I to V, with the following actions:

(a) to sell, administer, give, transfer, transport, send or deliver the substance,
(b) to sell an authorization to obtain the substance, or
(c) to offer to do anything mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b)

In combination with a trafficking charge, is the corresponding charge of possession. Section 5(2) of the CDSA explains, no person shall, for the purpose of trafficking, possess a substance included in Schedules I, II, III, IV or V

The punishments for trafficking and possession are as follows:

a) if the subject matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule I or II, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life, and

(i) to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year if

  • (A) the person committed the offence for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization, as defined in subsection 467.1(1) of the Criminal Code,
  • (B) the person used or threatened to use violence in committing the offence,
  • (C) the person carried, used or threatened to use a weapon in committing the offence, or
  • (D) the person was convicted of a designated substance offence, or had served a term of imprisonment for a designated substance offence, within the previous 10 years, or

(ii) to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of two years if

  • (A) the person committed the offence in or near a school, on or near school grounds or in or near any other public place usually frequented by persons under the age of 18 years,
  • (B) the person committed the offence in a prison, as defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code, or on its grounds, or
  • (C) the person used the services of a person under the age of 18 years, or involved such a person, in committing the offence;

b) if the subject matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule III or V,

  • (i) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or
  • (ii) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months; and

(c) where the subject-matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule IV,

  • (i) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or
  • (ii) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.
4) Importing and Exporting

As per section 6(1) of the CDSA, except as authorized under a regulation, no person shall import into Canada or export from Canada a substance included in Schedules I to VI.

With an offence of importing/exporting is one of possession under section 6(2) of the CDSA.

The punishment for an importing/exporting conviction varies depending on which Schedule the substance belongs to and the amount. The punishment is outlined in section 6(3) of the CDSA.

If the substance is included in Schedule I in an amount that is not more than one kilogram, or in Schedule II, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life, and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year if:

  • (i) the offence is committed for the purpose of trafficking,
  • (ii) the person, while committing the offence, abused a position of trust or authority, or
  • (iii) the person had access to an area that is restricted to authorized persons and used that access to commit the offence.

Have you Been Charged with Drug Offences?

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If the substance is included in Schedule I in an amount that is more than one kilogram, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of two years:

(b) if the subject matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule III, V or VI,

  • (i) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or
  • (ii) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months; and

(c) if the subject matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule IV,

  • (i) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or
  • (ii) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.
5) Production of a Substance

As per section 7(1) of the CDSA, except as authorized under the regulations, no person shall produce a substance included in Schedule I to V.

The punishments for production, found in section 7(2) of the CDSA are:

(a) If the subject matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule I, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of three years if any of the factors set out in subsection (3) apply and for a term of two years in any other case;

(a.1) If the subject matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule II, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life, and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment

  • (i) for a term of one year if the production is for the purpose of trafficking, or
  • (ii) for a term of 18 months if the production is for the purpose of trafficking and any of the factors set out in subsection (3) apply;

(c) If the subject matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule III or V,

  • (i) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or
  • (ii) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months.

(d) Where the subject-matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule IV,

  • (i) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or
  • (ii) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.

The charge of Production of Substance varies from other drug offences because it considers the various factors associated with production. As per section 7(3) of the CDSA:

The following factors must be taken into account in applying paragraphs (2)(a) and (a.1) found above:

  • (a) the person used real property that belongs to a third party in committing the offence;
  • (b) the production constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard to persons under the age of 18 years who were in the location where the offence was committed or in the immediate area;
  • (c) the production constituted a potential public safety hazard in a residential area; or
  • (d) the person set or placed a trap, device or other thing that is likely to cause death or bodily harm to another person in the location where the offence was committed or in the immediate area, or permitted such a trap, device or other thing to remain or be placed in that location or area.

Sentencing and Aggravating Factors

Under section 10(2) of the CDSA, the Court will consider certain factors, referred to as aggravating factors, when determining an individual’s ultimate sentence. The Court will consider:

(a) in relation to the commission of the offence,

  • (i) carried, used or threatened to use a weapon,
  • (ii) used or threatened to use violence,
  • (iii) trafficked in a substance included in Schedule I, II, III, IV or V, or possessed such a substance for the purpose of trafficking, in or near a school, on or near school grounds or in or near any other public place usually frequented by persons under the age of 18 years, or
  • (iv) trafficked in a substance included in Schedule I, II, III, IV or V, or possessed such a substance for the purpose of trafficking, to a person under the age of 18 years;

(b) was previously convicted of a designated substance offence, as defined in subsection 2(1) of this Act, or a designated offence, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Cannabis Act;

(c) used the services of a person under the age of eighteen years to commit, or involved such a person in the commission of the offence.

Drug Treatment Court Program

Under section 10(4) of the CDSA, a court sentencing a person who is convicted of an offence under this Part may delay sentencing to enable the offender

  • (a) to participate in a drug treatment court program approved by the Attorney General; or
  • (b) to attend a treatment program under subsection 720(2) of the Criminal Code.

In the case where an offender successfully completes a program under the above section, the court is not required to impose the minimum punishment for the offence for which the person was convicted. This is indicated in section 10(5).

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