Being charged with drug offences in Toronto can carry serious penalties. In Canada, some drug charges have mandatory minimums jail times. These charges can affect future employment, personal relationships, and your ability to travel to the USA and other countries.
If you have been charged with drug offences, you need to know what to do next. This article looks at the steps you need to take when you have been charged.
FIND A LAWYER FOR DRUG OFFENCES
The Constitution assures that everyone has, “the right on arrest and detention to retain and instruct counsel without delay.” In short, this means you can demand a lawyer once you have been arrested and detained.
It is important to be aware of this as the sooner you find a lawyer, the better your options become. Too often, those prosecuted for drug offences receive sentences that are more severe than they could have been. Or that could have been avoided altogether. An experienced Toronto criminal lawyer can help prevent crucial mistakes that will affect your freedom.
Until you have spoken to your lawyer, do not talk to anyone about your case. This includes the police. The most valuable piece of evidence the police can get is a confession. In interrogation, the police are legally allowed to lie to you. This can help them to coerce a confession claiming evidence that they may not actually possess. Your best option at this stage is to respectfully decline to answer questions, and await your lawyer.
At this point, the only information you are required to give police is:
- Birth date
When you do speak to a criminal defence lawyer, be clear and honest about your situation and the events leading up to it. Attorney-Client privilege means that these confidential communications cannot be disclosed. Even in court, neither you nor your lawyer needs to disclose anything discussed in these meetings.
Consider your lawyer’s advice at this stage. An experienced drug lawyer has an understanding of your situation. They have the know-how to effectively navigate drug offences. Never plead guilty without speaking with a criminal defence attorney first.
SECURING YOUR RELEASE
The next step you will want to follow is getting released. With the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent changes to the right to speedy trial, it can take as much as 18-30 months before a trial is completed. You definitely do not want to spend that whole time locked up.
Unlike some charges, many drug offences do not have a guarantee you can be released before trial. Trafficking, production, and importing/exporting drugs are reverse onus charges. That means you are required to show cause for release.
To show cause, you will need to create a release plan. This plan outlines why you should be released and creates assurances that you will attend all court dates and not commit any other offences. At the core of your release plan will be assigning a surety.
A surety is someone, usually family or a friend, who ensures you follow the release plan. They are tasked with ensuring your appearance at court dates and keeping you from committing further crimes before trial. You may be required to live with your surety until the trial.
To keep the surety responsible they are held responsible financially. This can mean a deposit, or a promised sum of money that is forfeit should you not adhere to the release plan. Your surety has gone out on a limb to vouch for you, be sure to respect the responsibility they have taken on.
BUILDING A DEFENCE
With a drug lawyer found and release secured, it is time to focus on building the defence. Your criminal defence lawyer will be in charge of undertaking this task. They will require that you can give them as much information as possible about the nature and events leading up to your arrest.
With this knowledge, they can determine if your rights, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, have been violated. If a breach is discovered, evidence acquired from the violation may be inadmissible. This alone may be enough to get the case thrown out.
A breach of the charter may occur if stops and searches are not performed correctly. Police do not have the right for random stops and searches. They also cannot search cars or homes without proper judicial authorization. Even in the event that police had a warrant, the basis for getting the warrant can be challenged in court.
An experienced drug lawyer will also force the crown to deliver proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Lab reports can be challenged. This is done to verify that evidence is indeed a controlled substance. The pressure is kept on the prosecution to provide absolute proof.
LITIGATION & TRIAL
After consulting with you and building a plan, your criminal defence lawyer will represent you in trial and/or litigation. Up to this point, it is important to have been upfront and honest with your drug offence lawyer. This will ensure they have all the knowledge needed to represent you accurately.
An experienced criminal lawyer is focused on protecting your interests and knows the ins-and-outs of drug offence procedures.
Afterwards, your attorney can help return your confiscated possessions. Confiscated property is still, legally, your possession. Almost all items, including cash, cars and prescribed drugs can be returned to you if they are no longer required as evidence. Among the few exceptions are non-prescribed drugs. These will be forfeit and destroyed.
The procedure for getting back seized property can be complex. But a seasoned drug lawyer will have the experience and knowledge to take the necessary steps and applications.
GETTING THE BEST REPRESENTATION FOR A DRUG OFFENCE
Whether looking at potential fines or imprisonment, drug offences can have a serious impact on your future. If you, or a loved one, has been charged with a drug offence in Toronto, you need the best criminal lawyer.
William Jaksa has been running his own firm in Toronto since 2007. When you sign with Jaksa, you get representation from Jaksa. Your case will not be passed off to a less experienced attorney. Contact Jaksa today for the best drug offence lawyer in Toronto.