Though attitudes with respect to recreational drug use for some narcotics are changing, the “war on drugs” remains. It has shifted from an absurd battle against pot smokers to the real battle of combating an Opioid crisis that is actually killing people. To combat the illegal drug trade — and in particular, to stop the flow of Fentanyl and other Opioids (such as Oxycodone and Morphine) on City streets, police expend tremendous resources to halt the proliferation of these drugs and others in communities. Notwithstanding that the demonization of some drugs has long been misdirected, Opioid issues are driving even harsher sentences for drug traffikcing, possession for the purpose of trafficking, production and importation.
The Alberta Court of Appeal has established starting point sentences for low level commercial trafficking (or possession for the purpose of trafficking) Schedule 1 substances such as cocaine, MDMA, heroin, crystal meth and other hard drugs. The starting point for cocaine trafficking is 3 years in a Federal penitentiary. The starting point for heroin is higher at 4 years. The starting point for Fentanyl is even higher, with some courts suggesting a starting point of 5 or more years. Notwithstanding that “starting point” sentences are guidelines only, Alberta’s highest court routinely upholds harsh penitentiary terms and consistently substitutes non-custodial dispositions for jail. If convicted of certain drug offences, it appears the Crown policy is to seek jail regardless of your life circumstances. Simply being charged with a trafficking offence could see the Crown seek your detention or restrictive bail conditions even if you have no criminal record.
HIRE A PROVEN DRUG LAWYER TO DEFEND YOUR CASE
Properly defending a drug offence, such as trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, importation or production requires an experienced litigator, well versed in the technical nuances of drug investigations and prosecutions. Defending drug charges is becoming increasingly more difficult. Not only is an accused facing the weight of a ptoentially resource heavy police investigation — that may involve a plethora of techniques including the use of undercover operatives, wiretap, tracking devices, complex surveillance (such as from a motor vehicle, air craft, hallway camera or listening device), ruse traffic detentions, search warrants and Confidential Informants — an accused must overcome the general stigma of charged with a drug crime.
David Chow is a Calgary, Cochrane, Lethbridge and Brooks drug lawyer who routinely secures verdicts of “not guilty”. He has defended complicated and labor intensive cases involving the use of wiretap. David often has evidence excluded as a result of the application of the Canadian Charter or Rights and Freedoms and has even successfully defended cases on technical grounds, such as the loss of continuity of evidence.
Police investigations into drug trafficking usually entail the use of undercover operatives who contact vendors as part of a dial-a-dope operation. Such operations are usually supported by surveillance. Evidence usually consists of proof of an actual drug exchange.
POSSESSION FOR THE PURPOSE
Possession for the purpose of trafficking (PPT) is most often charged when an accused is allegedly found in possessioni of a sufficient quantity of a drug to support an inference that possession is for more than mere personal use. The case usually require an expert.
Simply possessing drugs for personal use is the least serious drug offence because the narcotics are not possessed for economic gain. Where trafficking and PPT result in starting point jail sentences, the penalty for simple possession can be a non-criminal recrod sanction.
OTHER DRUG OFFENCES
There are myriad of other drug offences or related offences. These include production, importation and possession of the proceeds of crime. The simplest way to think of proceeds is that the accused is in possession of money or goods that was obtained by the sale of narcotics.
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