Engel and Associates

» Ottawa Criminal Lawyers

Drug Charges - Engel and Associates

Illegal drugs remain a serious problem in Canada and around the world, and being picked up on a drug charge may result in serious fines, jail time, or both.

Types of Drugs Regulated by Canadian Law

The Controlled Drug and Substance Act provides for the regulation of certain dangerous drugs and narcotics, and lists all illegal or controlled drugs and substances. This list includes, but is not limited to:

– Opium, morphine, heroin, hashish, codeine, and all other derivatives
– Cocaine and all related substances
– Cannabis, its derivatives, and related substances
– Barbiturates and Amphetamines
– Other controlled substances

Types of Drug Charges Under Canadian Law

Possession of a controlled substance is prohibited, except in narrow circumstances where the possessor has a regulatory documents such as a prescription from a licensed physician. For a possession conviction, the prosecution must prove that the accused had physical custody of the drug or substance; this means the drugs were actually found on the accused person or in a location controlled by the accused, such as a car or residence. The government also must prove that the accused knew the substance was illegal. If the defendant is a first time offender, and the quantity of the substance is not large, then the case may be tried as a summary conviction charge, and the charges may vary depending on the extenuating circumstances. On the other hand, if the defendant has previous convictions on similar charges, he or she may face a more serious charge.

Penalties for possession may vary. A first charge may result in a $1000 fine and a maximum of six months in jail. Subsequent charges will result in correspondingly longer incarceration times and heftier fines. Penalties for “softer” drugs such as marijuana may result in fines of $500 or less and a probationary period. “Harder” drugs such as heroin may result in a jail sentence, even for a first charge. The maximum sentence is seven years in prison.

Trafficking in a controlled substance is a more serious charge than possession, since it involves the passing on or selling of the substance to another party. Penalties for trafficking include a jail term followed by a period of probation. The maximum penalty for trafficking is life in prison.

How an Experienced Criminal Lawyer Can Help

Drug charges typically require the assistance of a drug charge lawyer, someone who is well versed in the drug laws currently on the books. If you may be facing drug charges, you should retain professional legal counsel immediately.

An experienced defense lawyer can defend your rights by examining the arrest procedure, including how police gathered evidence and assembled the case against you. Your lawyer may also be able to take appropriate action to try to reduce or dismiss the charges against you, eliminating costly fines and keeping damaging information off your permanent record. They can also evaluate whether your case can go before a dedicated drug court; for folks who have never been in legal trouble before, this may be a very positive option.

Bruce Engel has more than two decades of experience in criminal law, including cases involving drug possession and trafficking charges. He is committed to the highest standards in criminal defense and client satisfaction. Engel & Associates are trusted experts in criminal defense in Ottawa and the surrounding communities. They are located at 116 Lisgar St. Suite 210 Ottawa, ON K2P 0C2, and they may be reached by calling (866) 762-9250.