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Toronto Drug Criminal Defence Lawyer

Cocaine, Heroin, Crystal Meth, MDMA, Fentanyl

Mississauga, Brampton and Newmarket Drug Charge Law Firm

Charges involving drugs or controlled substances are very serious matters that require representation by the most experienced defence counsel. Crown prosecutors vigorously pursue these charges, and you will need a strong and well-prepared defence to counter the Crown's case. Be sure that you have an experienced Toronto drug defence lawyer who understands the law and will work to protect your rights.

Since 1985, I have been defending clients throughout the greater Toronto area facing a verity of serious drug charges, including cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, MDMA, fentanyl and other drugs. If you are under investigation or have been arrested, contact me today to schedule a free 30-minute consultation to discuss how I may be able to help you.

Protecting Your Rights in Drug Charge Cases

My knowledge and experience in these cases allows me to be proactive and effective not only in managing your case, but also in securing the best possible outcome.

If your case requires a jury trial, I have the necessary experience, advocacy skills and confidence to convincingly argue your case to the jury.

My goal is always to win an acquittal for you, and I won't recommend a plea bargain unless I believe that it is the best option in your case.

If the Crown has a compelling and overwhelming case against you, I will work to negotiate a result that minimizes the impact on your freedom and your future.

Possession of Drugs or Controlled Substance

Charges of simple possession of illegal drugs or controlled substances tend to attract relatively lower penalties than, for example, charges of trafficking or importing drugs. The penalties, if convicted of being in possession of a large quantity of drugs can, however, be substantial, especially in cases involving more serious drugs such as fentanyl.

If you are being charged with possession of drugs or controlled substances, I will do everything legally possible to mount a strong defence on your behalf.

Possession of Drugs for the Purpose of Trafficking

A person in possession of a large quantity of illegal drugs for personal use may be charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking when no trafficking activity ever took place. Circumstances that can lead to these charges may include how the drugs are packaged and possession of items or paraphernalia common to drug trafficking, such as multiple cell phones, scales, weapons and debt lists.

If you are facing charges of possession of illegal drugs or controlled substances for the purposes of trafficking, I will do everything legally possible to mount a strong defence. I will uncover the details behind any drug arrest - from investigating the evidence against you, to interviewing witnesses and developing effective constitutional challenges, pursuant to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to the legality of your arrest and the search of you or your property.

Drug Importing

Bringing illegal drugs or controlled substances into the country is a serious offence that is dealt with very severely by the courts. A conviction for these offences can result in substantial prison time. Regardless of what your involvement in the case may be, you have rights in these matters, and a Toronto drug importing defence lawyer can help to ensure that they are protected.

These cases can be quite complex, and the charges can be difficult to defend. Since 1985, I have been providing strong defences for people accused of importing many different types of drugs or controlled substances, including cocaine and other drugs. I have defended numerous clients facing drug importation charges, and I have a strong record of success winning acquittals at all trial court levels.

If you are charged with importing an illegal drug or controlled substance, I will do everything legally possible to mount a strong defence. I will uncover the details behind any drug arrest from investigating the evidence against you, to interviewing witnesses and developing effective constitutional challenges, pursuant to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to the legality of your arrest and the search of you or your property.

Helping You Through a Complex Process

When you hire me to handle your drug importing defence, I will work with you to gain a full understanding of your case. We will discuss how you came into possession of the drugs and under what circumstances. I will build the best possible defence strategy and pursue every legal option available to you to protect your interests.

In some cases, a challenge on the basis of illegal search or seizure for lack of reasonable and probable grounds is appropriate. In other cases, a defence may be made out that the accused was acting under duress and was forced to bring the drugs into the country, or that the accused didn't know that the drugs were in their belongings. I will closely examine the unique issues in your case and build a defence specifically designed to address them.

If your case requires a jury trial, I have the necessary experience, advocacy skills and confidence to convincingly argue your case to the jury.

My goal is always to win an acquittal for you, and I won't recommend a plea bargain unless I believe that it is the best option in your case.

If the Crown has a compelling and overwhelming case against you, I will work to minimize the impact on your freedom and your future.

Possible Penalties for More Serious Drug Offences

The more serious penalties for drug offences apply with respect to the more serious drugs listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). Schedule I of the CDSA sets out a lengthy list of drugs, some of the most serious and common of which are as follows:

  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Ketamine
  • Fentanyl
  • Cocaine
  • Crack cocaine
  • MDMA
  • Crystal Methamphetamine

The penalty for simple possession of a Schedule I substance are set out in Section 4(3) of the CDSA which provides as follows:

Section 4(3)

Every person who contravenes subsection (1) [simple possession of a drug or a controlled substance] where the subject-matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule I

  • is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years; or
  • is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable
    1. for a first offence, to a fine not exceeding $1,000.00 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both, and
    2. for a subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding $2,000.00 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both.

The penalties for trafficking in an illegal drug or controlled substance and possession of an illegal drug or controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, are set out in Section 5(3) of the CDSA which provides as follows:

Section 5(3)

Every person who contravenes subsection (1) [trafficking in a drug or controlled substance] or (2) [possession for the purpose of trafficking of a drug or a controlled substance]

  • if the subject matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule I or II, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life, and
  1. to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year if
    • a person committed the offence for the benefit of, at the discretion of or in association with a criminal organization, as defined in Subsection 467.1(1) of the Criminal Code,
    • the person used or threatened to use violence in committing the offence,
    • the person carried, used or threatened to use a weapon in committing the offence, or
    • the person was convicted of a designated substance offence, or had served a term of imprisonment for a designated substance offence, within the previous ten years, or
  2. to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of two years if
    • the person committed the offence in or near a school, on or near school grounds or in or near any other public place usually frequented by persons under the age of 18,
    • the person committed the offence in a prison, as defined in Section 2 of the Criminal Code, or on its grounds, or
    • the person used the services of a person under the age of 18 years, or involved such a person, in committing the offence.

The penalties for importing an illegal drug or controlled substance are set out in Section 6(3) of the CDSA which provides as follows:

Section 6(3)

Every person who contravenes subsection (1) [importing] or (2) [possession for the purpose of exporting]

  • if the subject matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule I in an amount that is not more than one kilogram, or in Schedule II, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life, and a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year if
    1. the offence is committed for the purposes of trafficking,
    2. the person while committing the offence abused a position of trust or authority, or
    3. the person had access to an area that is restricted to authorized persons and used that access to commit the offence;
  • if the subject matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule 1 in an amount that is more than one kilogram, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of two years.

Call Defence Lawyer Anthony De Marco for a Free Consultation

Contact my Toronto, Ontario, office today to discuss your drug or controlled substance case. I offer a free 30-minute consultation. For your convenience, I accept Visa and offer payment plans. You can reach me by phone at (416) 651-2299 or toll free at 1-888-399-3164 or via e-mail.

DNA and Other Forensic Evidence

Forensic evidence, such as DNA evidence, is just one type of evidence that the Crown can try to introduce against a person accused of a crime. The defence can challenge the admissibility of forensic evidence on the basis of relevance, prejudice or that there is a lack of a sufficient scientific foundation to make the evidence reliable and worthy of being admitted, in other words, the forensic evidence is inadmissible because it is based on "junk science".

Over the years, there have been several types of forensic evidence that have been rejected by the courts in the United States and, to a lesser extent, Canada, including voice print identification, comparative bullet lead analysis and several indicators of arson dependent on visual cues.

Likewise, there are various other types of forensic evidence which are possibly unreliable, such as microscopic hair comparison, and "pattern comparison" evidence such as bite marks, tire marks and handwriting.

Even in cases where the forensic evidence is ruled admissible, the defence can still try to weaken the impact of the evidence by arguing, for example, that the results of the forensic testing were the subject of "motivated perception". In other words, the scientist who did the testing interpreted the results so as to support his or her expectations or the expectations of the police or Crown prosecutors. The defence can argue, or call evidence to show, that the forensic examiner should have first tested the evidence blindly without knowing anything about the case in order to avoid a subconscious bias. Studies have shown that even the opinion of fingerprint analysts can be affected by the analysts' preconceived notions about the case. Also, there is always a risk of a false positive. Moreover, if the laboratory that completed the testing, such as the Centre of Forensic Sciences, is known to have made errors on occasion in the past, the defence can argue that the error rates should also be entered in evidence.

In appropriate cases, and where funds permit, the evidence can be re-tested by an independent laboratory for verification.

A good defence lawyer should know the weaknesses of specific scientific techniques or seek out an appropriate defence consulting expert to learn about and present evidence regarding those weaknesses.

Electing to Have a Preliminary Inquiry

In cases in which a Defendant is exposed to a possible period of 14 years in jail or more, the Defendant will have the right to proceed with a preliminary inquiry in the Ontario Court of Justice and then a trial in the Superior Court of Justice before a court composed of a Judge sitting with a jury or without a jury. In the past, this level of court was referred to as "High Court".

The completion of a preliminary inquiry is not mandatory. The Defendant has the right to waive the preliminary inquiry and to proceed directly to trial in either the Ontario Court of Justice or the Superior Court of Justice. If the trial is to be completed in the Superior Court of Justice, the waiver of the preliminary inquiry will require the consent of the Crown.

At a preliminary inquiry, the Crown is required to call some evidence upon which a properly instructed jury, acting reasonably, may return a verdict of guilt. This is an easy test for the Crown to meet in the vast majority of cases. Accordingly, it is relatively rare for someone who proceeds with a preliminary inquiry to be discharged with respect to all of the charges which he or she is facing. The real value in having a preliminary inquiry is not in the hope of being entirely discharged, thereby bringing the entire criminal proceedings to an end, but in being able to better prepare the case for trial. The defence lawyer will have an opportunity to cross-examine and test the evidence of the primary Crown witnesses. An experienced and skilled defence lawyer can discover the strengths and weaknesses of the Crown witnesses and commence building an effective defence strategy. A preliminary inquiry is especially valuable for the defence in cases involving young, infirm, unreliable or unsavory Crown witnesses.

Pre-Trial Charter Applications

Often, the best defence to a drug charge involves a challenge to the investigation that resulted in your arrest. The police are not allowed to breach the rights that you are guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I will investigate any possible Charter breaches by carefully reviewing the Crown disclosure documents, including the documents used by the police to obtain search warrants for your home, car or other property, and the documents used by the police to obtain production orders, such as for your cell phone records, and wiretap authorizations.

If I detect any violation of your Charter rights or violation of acceptable investigative procedures established by the courts, I will proceed with an application, prior to your trial, asking for the exclusion of evidence from your trial obtained illegally by the police, including your statements and the real evidence seized during the investigation.

I have an established reputation for success in pre-trial applications. Winning a Charter application results in a finding of not guilty if the court determines that not excluding the evidence may bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

I have the necessary experience, research skills, writing skills, and advocacy skills to prepare and effectively argue pre-trial Charter applications. The value of legal writing skills cannot be overstated since proceeding with pre-trial Charter applications will require the preparation of several documents including a Notice of Application, an Affidavit, and a Factum setting out the relevant facts and summarizing the relevant case law.

Call Defence Lawyer Anthony De Marco for a Free Consultation

Contact my Toronto, Ontario, office today to discuss your drug or controlled substance case. I offer a free 30-minute consultation. For your convenience, I accept Visa and offer payment plans. You can reach me by phone at (416) 651-2299 or toll free at 1-888-399-3164 or via e-mail.

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