Being convicted of a criminal offence in Toronto under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act can have grave consequences in terms of sentencing by the courts. One way a criminal conviction can affect your life is by not being able to travel internationally or the ability to secure employment in your future. Many jobs require a background check before starting at a new job and other jobs require that you maintain a clean criminal record, which means if you are convicted of a crime and your employer finds out you will most likely lose your job. For these reasons it is important to hire a drug trafficking lawyer as soon as possible.
Drug trafficking lawyers will aid those who are facing a conviction before and after their sentencing, they will also help to understand what the potential consequences are.
What is the process when you are Charged of Drug Trafficking?
Following an arrest, a person being charged with a drug trafficking offence may appear in court a number of times before attending their trial.
After you have been arrested for drug trafficking and taken to the police station, the police will either hold you in their custody or let you leave. Contact a drug trafficking lawyer immediately, it is very important to get legal advice as soon as possible. If the police decide to hold you in custody at the police station, they must bring you to the justice of the peace for a bail hearing within 24 hours after being arrested, or as soon as possible. At the bail hearing, the justice of the peace will decide if you should be released, or held in custody until your trial.
If you are released, the justice of the peace may enforce conditions and may require that you have a surety to sign on your behalf. You will also be given instructions that tells you when and where to be in court to set a date for your trial. You are entitled to a full disclosure of the Crown’s case against you and it must be ordered through the Crown’s office.
Set date for court appearance
If you are allowed you to leave the police station, they will give you a notice that tells you when and where you have to be in court. In this document you will find any conditions attached to your release ie. not having contact with the alleged victim of the crime. Your first court appearance will be called your “set date” because this will be the time that the judge will set a date for your trial.
A preliminary hearing is a court proceeding, but is not a trial. During a preliminary hearing the prosecutor only has to convince the judge that there is enough evidence that a judge could find you guilty. In most cases, a trial will be ordered and scheduled months later in the Superior Court of Justice.
Contingent on the nature of your drug trafficking case, there may also be pre-trial motions and hearings that take place immediately before your trial. These often deal with technical legal issues, such as admission of evidence and protection of your legal rights.
Prosecutors Try Drug Cases Harsher Than Other Prosecutors
Almost all criminal offences in Canada are prosecuted by the Crown Attorney`s office. However, drug prosecutions, are prosecuted by Public Prosecutions Services of Canada. This means that drug prosecutors have far greater knowledge and are more specialized when it comes to proving their side and collecting detrimental evidence that will result in a guilty verdict.
Flexibility in Sentencing
There are several sentences that a judge can hand down to a defendant if he finds him guilty, which include:
- An absolute discharge
- A conditional discharge
- A suspended sentence, which means probation
- A fine
- Imprisonment/Jail time
- A combination of the above
As we mentioned, there are many circumstances where the imposition of a sanction other than imprisonment requires reasons from the judge. There are several offences which carry mandatory minimum penalties of imprisonment. Due to these mandatory sentences defendants are urged to seek out excellent representation by seeking a drug trafficking lawyer to represent them.
Not All Trafficking is Treated the Same
Trafficking charges carry different penalties and factors than a possession offence carries under the CDSA. Courts generally will be expected to distinguish between three levels of trafficking, depending on the seriousness ie.
- Social sharing
- Petty retail operation
- Full-time commercial operation
When the offender is not addicted to the substance in question, the courts will generally display very little sympathy for him/her. Sympathy is usually given, when the offences the defendant committed was to support a drug addiction.
Other factors may include:
- The offenders rank in the drug dealing organization
- The estimated number of drug transactions they have made
- If the offender has a prior record
- The amount of planning and deliberation, was the trafficking committed on an impulse or part of a plan
- Whether there were different types of drugs being simultaneously trafficked
What Kind of Drugs Were Involved?
Different kinds of drug offences will have different penalties. Many CDSA offences have strict mandatory minimums that will be handed down with each offence. The following chart is intended to assist you in understanding what those penalties may be. (These penalties are accurate at the time of publication but may change in the future).
What is the Best Way to Fight a Drug Trafficking Charge?
To beat a drug trafficking charge in Ontario, your lawyer must be knowledgeable, experienced and a persuasive advocate on your behalf. Drug trafficking convictions can negatively impact your life for years to come, which is why you must seek out drug trafficking lawyers who are experts in the field.
If you are facing a charge and are in need of an experienced drug trafficking lawyer call, ensure you have the legal protection needed by hiring an expert attorney from Mass Tsang. Get a free consultation regarding your case by contacting us today.