Drug Offence Charges

Calgary Criminal Defence Practices

Have you been charged with a drug related offence?

Calgary Drug Lawyers

Batting, Wyman Barristers are among the top Calgary drug offence lawyers, with over 25 years experience successfully defending clients charged with a variety of drug charges. Our firm focuses on drug offence charges in Calgary as well as surrounding areas such as Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks, Didsbury, Turner Valley, Strathmore and Canmore. Choosing us means you receive the strong representation you need to present a solid defence in your case.

Drug offences range in severity depending on the nature of the drug, and whether the prosecutor alleges trafficking to others.

Charges range from simple possession to that of production. There is often little dispute that the substance constitutes contraband. The cases often hinge on the legitimacy of the police investigation and whether it stands up to Charter scrutiny. This often means challenging the sufficiency of judicially authorized warrants.

How We Can Help You With Drug Charges

Drug charges can dramatically impact day to day life. Drug convictions can carry the potential for loss of career, forfeiture of offence-related property, and can make international travel very challenging. It’s important to hire a drug offence lawyer that is experienced and has successfully defended hundreds of cases. Our team provides professional advisory and counsel allowing our clients to feel comfortable and confident throughout the legal process. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have been charged with a drug-related offence. We’re here to help.

The defence of drug related prosecutions require that counsel have a firm grasp with respect to constitutional arguments. These arguments flow from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which protect citizens from the actions of state agents. For drug matters, counsel will routinely seek to exclude the product of the officers’ search. This can be accomplished by alleging that the search was in violation of the client’s section 8 Charter rights or that it was the product of an arbitrary detention under section 9 of the Charter. While each case will turn on its own facts, expertise in Charter litigation is a necessity in drug files.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the defences in drug prosecutions?

  • While not always the case, the lion’s share of drug cases are defended on the basis of constitutional arguments. These arguments flow from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter, as its often referred to, sets forth the rights of citizens vis a vis the state. In Drug prosecutions, section 8 of the Charter is often relied upon. Section 8 of the Charter provides that citizens be free from unreasonable search and seizure by government officials. When drugs are found by authorities on an individual’s person or in their home, defence counsel will often challenge the legality of the search in question. This may entail challenging the legitimacy of an arrest or challenging the validity of a search warrant that authorized officers to search a given location. The goal with respect to such a Charter challenge is to convince the presiding Judge or Justice that a breach of the client’s rights has occurred and subsequently exclude the substance from evidence. In the event that the subject matter of the charge is excluded from the trial, there is no evidence to support that a CDSA offence has been committed.
  • Even though Charter arguments are commonplace with respect to such charges, the Prosecution must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused controlled these prohibited substances in some manner. Defences that may flow from this stage of the proceedings involve challenging that the Crown has not proven that the accused possessed, trafficked or produced the prohibited substance.

What is the difference between the offence of Possession and the offence of Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (PPT)?

  • Section 4(1) of the CDSA makes it an offence to possess a controlled substance. Conversely, Section 5(2) makes it an offence to possess a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking it. An essential element to both offences is that the Crown prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused possessed the prohibited substance. That said, in a PPT prosecution, the Crown must demonstrate that the accused had the intention to traffic the substance which they possessed. Traffic is defined pursuant to section 2 of the CDSA and means
    1. To sell, administer, give, transfer, transport, send or deliver the substance;
    2. To sell an authorization to obtain the substance;
    3. To offer to do anything mentioned above.
  • In the vast majority of PPT cases, the Crown will call an expert who will testify with respect to their experiences concerning drug investigations and provide an opinion on whether the drugs were possessed for personal consumption or for the purpose of trafficking. These opinions will often be based upon the quantum of drugs in question, the manner in which they are packaged, as well as the drug paraphernalia that is located proximate to the seizure.

What are the effects of a drug conviction?

  • A CDSA conviction will result in a criminal record in the same fashion as a conviction for a Criminal Code offence. Furthermore, depending on an individual’s criminal background and the offence, a fine, probation or incarceration will result. While these are all undesirable results, one of the collateral consequences of a drug conviction are the difficulties associated with entry into the United States. Border Security officers treat even the most minor drug convictions extremely seriously and will often withhold entry into the U.S. on account of even one. In such instances, where an individual seeks entry into the United States, they will often have to obtain a waiver from the U.S. Government. This is an application that must be made months in advance and will essentially be pre-approved authorization for entry into the U.S. The waiver only lasts for a specified period of time. Once this time period has lapsed, a further waiver is required for subsequent visits.

What is the Alternative Measures Program?

  • As with all charges, drug matters vary in their degree of seriousness. Lower end drug files can at times be referred into the Alternative Measures Program. This program is typically available to individuals with little to no criminal record. It is often used in order to deal with simple possession offences under section 4(1) of the CDSA. Entry to the program is not automatic and requires approval from the prosecutor’s office. Should a client participate in the program, their matter will be adjourned for them to complete meaningful community service hours. These hours cannot be completed just anywhere as they must occur in a federally approved establishment that will provide written completion of the required hours. Once written confirmation has been obtained, the matter will return to court in order to have the charges withdrawn.