Definition of Drug Trafficking and Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking

  • Drug Trafficking: Involves the sale or distribution of illicit substances.
  • Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking: This type of charge is based on circumstances surrounding possession, such as the quantity of drugs, presence of weigh scales, cash, debt lists, or drug-cutting agents.


Circumstantial Defence

  • Proving Intent: The Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused possessed drugs with the intent to traffic.
  • Factual Circumstances: Depending on the facts, cases may be defensible , and the Crown might struggle to prove possession for the purpose of trafficking.


Sentencing Consequences

  • Quantity and Type of Drug: Sentencing will depend heavily on the quantity and type of drugs involved.
  • Range of Sentences: Ranges from shorter jail terms for trafficking in smaller amounts of marijuana to potential life sentences for high volumes of hard drugs like fentanyl or crack cocaine.
  • Maximum Sentence: The maximum sentence for drug trafficking is a lifetime sentence (i.e., with the possibility of parole after 25 years in jail).  


Defences and Constitutional Issues

  • Constitutional Challenges: Charter applications can be filed to exclude evidence based on constitutional issues such as unreasonable search and seizure under s. 8 and 24(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 
  • Defence Strategies: Challenges may include questioning the credibility of informants,  challenging search warrants of a residence, challenging wiretap search warrants, or raising a reasonable doubt about the Crown’s ability to prove all elements of the offense.


Secure Your Best Outcome with Expert Legal Representation

With an experienced team, well-versed in both prosecution and defence strategies, it’s crucial in crafting a strong case for you. Our goal is clear: to win your case at trial or achieve the best possible outcome, with a focus on minimizing or avoiding jail time. Contact us now to protect your rights and fight for your future.


Video Transcription:

Our firm represents a lot of clients who have been charged with drug trafficking or possession for the purpose of trafficking. The definition of drug trafficking is obviously self-explanatory. Possession for the purpose of trafficking is really based on the circumstances surrounding your possession of a particular drug. For example, if the police conduct a search warrant in your home and find maybe an ounce of cocaine, for example, or even less, but also find weigh scales and a significant amount of cash or a drug cutting agent, clearly these are factual circumstances that prove possession for the purpose of trafficking.Every case is different, because if you have just a very small amount of drugs and some cash, it might not prove possession for the purpose of trafficking beyond a reasonable doubt. Depending on the facts, many of these cases are defendable. The crown often cannot prove that you possessed the drugs for the purpose of trafficking and there may be other defences or constitutional arguments as well. These are very serious crimes. I am not going to review with you the exact sentencing consequences for a given quantity of drugs. If you told me the quantum and exact type of type of drug, I can give you the range of sentence in Ontario. Drug trafficking in a small amount of marihuana, could attract a shorter period in jail, up to potentially a life sentence for an extremely high volume of hard drugs such as, for example, fentanyl or crack cocaine with a street value of millions of dollars. The maximum sentence for drug trafficking is 25- years in jail. The range of jail sentences can be anywhere between a short jail term and a life sentence frankly. The length of sentence really depends on the quantum of the drug, obviously your personal background and the type of drug is key.

There are very insidious drugs, some of them that I have just named, that the courts consider “hard drugs” such as heroin, fentanyl, crack cocaine or powdered cocaine etc. The courts consider hard drugs to be scourges on society and people are going to jail for a very long time in Canada for trafficking in high volumes of hard drugs. Drug crimes often present various defences which can be used to win your case at trial.

There are constitutional issues where you can file a Charter application to get the drugs excluded from evidence at your trial; undercover informants can be exposed as being not credible or reliable; wiretap search warrants can be challenged. Can the crown prove all the elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt? Can they prove identity? Can the crown prove you are in possession of the drug in a home or vehicle because there are multiple people present?

Our law firm has won a lot of these cases. After we receive your disclosure, we are able to provide you with a legal regarding whether your drug charge is defendable. We will head to trial on those cases where we have a reasonable chance of winning. Or we might try and get a deal to plead to a lesser charge to minimize or avoid a jail term depending on the instructions of our clients. There are many cases where we can convince the crown the defence has a reasonable chance of winning at trial. Through plea negotiation, the crown may agree the defence has a strong case and for example, offer us a deal to plead guilty to simple drug possession instead of drug trafficking, where we avoid a jail term or get a much shorter jail term at least. So this is what we do.

We handle a lot of drug possession and trafficking cases. We have a former, exceptional federal drug prosecutor, Karl Toews, who works at our law firm. I am a former criminal prosecutor. Our lawyers know the ‘tricks of the trade’ from both the crown and defence perspective and this give us an advantage defending these drug charges during both negotiations with the crown and at trial. We have been defending these types of charges for over thirty years. Certainly it pays to hire a good lawyer in this area because it is a complex area of law and we have the knowledge and experience to either win your case or get the best result possible.

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