It may be tempting to represent yourself on a minor drug charge. But you should reconsider.
A conviction under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA) for production, trafficking or possession of drugs can result in severe criminal penalties. Even a minor drug charge conviction can have serious, enduring consequences on your life. A criminal record for drugs can impact many aspects of a person’s life, including employment and international travel.
Drug offences are particularly complex; charges and possible sentences vary significantly. Some issues that arise in drug sentences are:
- The type of drug;
- Quantity of the substance;
- Purpose for its possession;
- Amount of planning and deliberation pertaining to the offence;
- Prior record of the offender; or
- Whether there was trafficking of other drugs involved.
Substances defined as "hard drugs," like heroin and cocaine, carry more severe sentences than so-called "soft drugs" like marijuana. Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking, Trafficking and Production will result in harsher punishment than simple Possession.
"Trafficking" is a broad criminal category, and includes anything from transporting, selling to simply giving someone a drug. For example, simply sharing a "hit" of an illegal drug is considered trafficking.
"Possession" is another sweeping and multifaceted criminal charge. While many people believe Possession is personally holding a drug, one may be charged for simply being in the presence of someone with a drug. With Joint Possession, one individual holding a drug with the knowledge, consent, and assisted control of others makes all people in the party guilty of the offence. An individual may also be in Possession of a drug if they have it stored anywhere where the person has a measure of control.
"Production" not only includes growing/producing drugs. Any owner of a property who knowingly allows others to use it for production or any individual who assists with the production can be criminally incriminated.
One does not need proof or actual knowledge that a drug offence is taking place. So-called Willful Blindness is not a defence to a drug charge.
Given the complexity of drug offences, it is imperative to have a lawyer with the knowledge, experience and track record to ensure you have the best legal representation possible.
Our firm has successfully represented hundreds of individuals facing drug offences. Call Caramanna, Friedberg LLP at (416) 924-5969 if you or a loved one has been charged. We are here to help 24/7.