Drug Offence Charges

Calgary Criminal Defence Lawyers

Drug Charges Lawyers in Calgary

Batting, Wyman Barristers are among the top Calgary drug charges lawyers, with over 30 years of experience successfully defending clients charged with various drug charges. Our firm focuses on drug offence charges in Calgary and 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.

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Main Types of Drug Charges

Drug charges 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.

The main types of drug offences are:

  • Simple possession
  • Trafficking
  • Production
  • Importation

Drug Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking

In Alberta, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) defines “possession for the purpose of trafficking” as a severe offence, distinguished from simple possession by the intent to distribute or sell the controlled substance. This intent can be determined by factors like the following

  • Drug quantity
  • Packaging
  • Associated paraphernalia
  • Observed behaviour

Convictions can lead to mandatory jail time, fines, and asset seizures. Given the serious repercussions—including employment and travel complications—it’s vital for those accused to consult an experienced drug charges lawyer to navigate potential defences and achieve the best legal outcome

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Penalties for Drug Charges

The “drug charges” spectrum in Calgary leads to varied penalties upon conviction. The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) mandates jail time for grave offences. Yet, jail is less likely for minor infractions like simple possession, especially if one lacks prior convictions or aggravating factors.

Beyond immediate legal repercussions, a drug offence conviction can cloud your future. Such a record might limit job opportunities, particularly in finance or roles with vulnerable populations. Travelling to the U.S., where drug violations are stringently viewed, can also become challenging.

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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. Hiring an experienced drug charges lawyer who has successfully defended hundreds of cases is important.

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 requires that counsel have a firm grasp with respect to constitutional arguments. These arguments flow from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects citizens from the actions of state agents. Counsel will routinely seek to exclude the product of the officers’ search for drug matters.

This can be accomplished by alleging that the search violated the client’s section 8 Charter rights or that it was the product of arbitrary detention under section 9 of the Charter. While each case will turn on its own facts, expertise in Charter litigation is necessary for drug files.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.