Criminal charges relating to firearms and illegal drugs can result in lengthy prison sentences and other penalties when the Ontario court system delivers a “guilty” verdict. Anyone charged with gun and drug offences needs the legal expertise of practiced criminal trial lawyers to help successfully defend against the charges. Gun and firearms cases tend to be exceptionally complicated, and skilled criminal trial lawyers carefully examine all elements of such cases to determine how to achieve the most favorable outcome possible for their clients.
Naturally, those charged with gun and drug crimes would like to avoid a prison sentence, and, if possible, prevent the charge from going on their record as a criminal offence, a stigma that can curtail future employment, loans, mortgages, and other opportunities for life. Depending upon the circumstances of the case, skilled criminal trial lawyers use their extensive legal knowledge and experience with the Ontario court system to strategize an effective defence. Among outcomes Mass Tsang criminal trial lawyers seek are:
- Withdrawn Charges
- Reduced Charges
- Satisfactory Plea Bargain
- Avoidance or Reduction of Prison Time
- Limited Bail-Release Conditions
Developing a Criminal Defence Strategy
Developing a criminal defence strategy for gun or illegal drug charges on their own is challenging enough, but the challenges are compounded when a client faces both charges at once. Whether guns, drugs, or both, though, a key component of any criminal defence strategy is to find weaknesses in the government’s case. This involves close examination of all evidence, case timelines, location/control over the gun(s) and/or drugs, and the actual search, seizure, and arrest. During this examination, criminal trial lawyers also closely track all actions by the police and investigators to ensure that their actions followed legal process and did not breach the client’s Charter rights.
While this approach is often successful in achieving a favorable outcome, or, at the least, mitigating the severity of the original charges, sometimes the weakness in a case arises as a result of actions (or lack thereof) by the Crown-prosecutor’s office. And this is exactly how Mass Tsang recently got severe gun and drug charges dropped for one of its clients.
Client Charged with 13 Gun, Two Possession/Trafficking Offences
David Ansah, age 23, was facing 13 gun-related offences and two illegal drug possession with intent to distribute offences. Mr. Ansah’s arrest occurred during the execution of a search warrant, during which Peel Regional Police discovered an illegal pistol, ammunition, 28.1 grams of cocaine, and six sedative pills wedged in a fence near the location Mr. Ansah was found. Based on the Crown’s evidence as provided by pre-trial disclosure rules, Mass Tsang’s trial lawyers were strategizing a defence based in part on timing—police had no visual sight of Mr. Ansah for 20 minutes after the initiation of their search—and on actual possession of the drugs and guns. These and other issues would have been raised with the Crown during pre-trial negotiations, but such negotiations and other pre-trial procedures were continuously delayed by the Crown. So much so, that Mass Tsang recognized that the delays represented a breach of their client’s Charter rights.
Procedural Delays Become Focus of the Court
Between his August 28, 2018 arrest, and recent Dec. 16, 2019 disposition of the case, Mr. Ansah made 26 court appearances, though no facts relating to the actual case were ever argued. Ultimately, Mass Tsang criminal trial lawyers pointed out that the ultimate mid-May 2020 date scheduled for Mr. Ansah’s five-day trial was legally “unreasonable,” and thus a breach of his Charter rights.
In rebuttal, the Crown argued that the trial scheduling delay was reasonable because a “technological problem” caused one of their key attorneys to miss a procedural judicial pretrial (JPT) meeting defence counsel. The Crown further argued that the subsequent 93-day delay in scheduling the next JPT should not be counted within the 18-month mandatory deadline for setting a trial date due to the unavoidable computer glitch. Under Jordan decision (2016) SCC 27 jurisprudence, presumptive trial scheduling deadlines can be exceeded when “exceptional circumstances”—"reasonably unforeseen or unavoidable” and not easily remedied—are behind the cause.
Mass Tsang: Crown Attorney Well Aware of Meeting Time, Date, and Place
Mass Tsang’s trial lawyers completely rebutted the Crown’s characterization of missing the JPT as “unforeseen” or “unavoidable” because of the software glitch by providing written evidence that clearly showed that the Crown attorney was perfectly aware of the date, time, and place of JPT. Mass Tsang also provided the court with documents showing that the defence had been diligently following all legal deadlines and procedural dictates, while the Crown tended to be consistently late with all disclosures, submissions, and other elements of case management. In particular, Mass Tsang noted that the Crown took seven and a half months to submit search warrant disclosure information, and nine and a half months for other disclosure details.
Judge Agrees with Mass Tsang
Ontario Court of Justice, Judge P.T. O’Marra, fully accepted Mass Tsang’s arguments and ruled that there were no “exceptional circumstances that justified” delaying the trial date. “I find that the assigned Crown attorney simply forgot to attend the JPT that morning. The assigned Crown attorney’s forgetfulness, in my view, does not constitute a discrete event that laid beyond the Crown’s control in this case.” The judge further characterized the delay “presumptively unreasonable,” unjustified and a clear violation of Mr. Ansah’s Charter rights, and ordered a stay of proceedings.
Consult with Mass Tsang for your Criminal Law Defence Needs
With detailed attention on all elements involved in drug and gun charges, the criminal trial lawyers at Mass Tsang are dedicated to seeking the most favorable outcome possible for their clients. Mass Tsang lawyers have successfully handled more than a thousand criminal cases, and have a solid record in their effective disposition of gun and drug cases. While Mass Tsang’s stellar reputation aids its lawyers in negotiating favorable deals and reduced charges, our lawyers will not hesitate to mount a full-scale defensive effort when warranted.
If you or someone you know is facing criminal drug or gun law charges in the greater Toronto area, contact the expert lawyers at Mass Tsang today for a free consultation.