Information & Legal Help
For Drug Offences in B.C.

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About Drug Offences & Drug Charges in Canada

Being charged with a drug offence anywhere in Canada – whether it’s in Surrey, Vancouver, Abbotsford, Calgary, Toronto, Mississauga or Brampton – is a very serious matter and should be treated as such.

More than likely, you will need the professional legal help of an experienced Criminal Lawyer like former Crown Prosecutor,  Rob Dhanu to help you minimize – even beat – the drug charge.

Drug offence laws of Canada are found in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, (formerly the Narcotics Control Act) with the prohibited or controlled substances listed in schedules attached to the Act.

The Federal Government is responsible for the prosecution of Drug Offenses. The prosecutors work for The Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC).

What is considered a drug offense?

A person in Canada can be charged with illegal possession of drugs or a similar drug offence when they possess a prohibited substance without any legal justification. To establish drug possession, the prosecutors have to prove that the person in question intentionally and knowingly had control of an illegal substance.

For a drug offence, any illegal substance as defined by the Controlled Drugs & Substances Act are found in Schedule I, II, III, IV, V or VI.

  1. Possession of a Prohibited or Controlled Substance
  2. Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purposes of Trafficking
  3. Trafficking in a Prohibited or Controlled Substance
  4. Producing, Cultivating or Growing a Controlled Substance
  5. Importing, Exporting or Possessing for the Purpose of Exporting a Controlled Substance

Drug Offence Consequences

The consequences of not properly dealing with drug offences have far reaching consequences for you and your loved ones. Because it’s a Criminal record. Having a criminal record because of drug charges will affect different aspects of your life. If you want to travel to the United States for work or family trips, you may find yourself barred from entry into the country.

Like with many criminal offenses, Crown Counsel has certain discretion in deciding how to charge criminal defendants charged with drug offences. Crown Counsel can either seek a simple summary conviction, which carries lesser criminal penalties, or he or she can seek a formal criminal indictment.

Most first-time drug offence charges are dispensed by summary conviction procedures, whereas the more serious crimes such as drug trafficking will always be indicted.

For first time offenders subjected to the summary conviction procedure, the maximum possible penalty is a $1,000 fine and six months in prison if the defendant is found guilty. Keep in mind that these are maximum penalties and that lower punishments are often levied. For repeat offenders, the maximum penalties are doubled to a $2,000 fine and up to one year in prison.

When a drug offence is indicted by the Crown Counsel, he or she can seek more serious penalties. Indictments generally are sought for more serious drug charges such as trafficking and manufacture of drugs but are also occasionally sought for the mere possession of more dangerous drugs like heroin or cocaine. If Crown Counsel proves that the criminal defendant is guilty using the indictment procedure, the maximum penalty can be up to seven years in prison.

Finally, certain factors can aggravate the drug offence charges and result in additional penalties. For example, if a criminal defendant was trafficking narcotics for a criminal organization or if the criminal defendant was using a weapon, additional charges can be brought. The location of the drugs can also result in increased penalties. Attempting to sell drugs near a school or selling to a minor can also constitute aggravating factors.

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What is Considered “Possession” of Drugs?

Like all other crimes under the Canadian Criminal Code, drug possession must be specifically proven before any criminal sentencing can be levied against any drug offence criminally accused individual or individuals. The Crown Counsel must prove two things before a court will find a defendant guilty of drug possession:

  1. The criminal accused offender must have had physical possession of the drugs. Physical possession does not necessarily mean having the drugs on you (meaning bodily contact), but they must be somewhere that the criminally accused controlled, like your car, boat or where you live.
  2. The Crown Counsel must prove that the offender knew he or she had an illegal substance. For example, if you were criminally accused of possessing cocaine but you actually – honestly – believed that you just had a bag of sugar, well then the court could possibly find that you are not guilty of a drug possession.
Drug Offences

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