How do I beat my drug charges?
The vast number of drug charges arise after police conduct a search of a person, their vehicle or home. Despite being found in possession of drugs, the most common defence to drug charges is to have the evidence of drugs excluded at trial. Without evidence of drugs found by police, the accused will likely be found not guilty.
The issue at trial is generally not whether the item seized was an illegal drug or the person was in possession of the drug. Most often, the issue at trial is whether the police legally obtained the evidence in accordance with Canada’s constitutional standards.
In Canada, we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees every citizen the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures by police. Despite the Charter being in place since 1982, police still conduct arbitrary stops and illegal searches of people, vehicles and homes.
In order to prove a breach has occurred, evidence is called at trial during a voir dire, which is essentially a trial within a trial. In drug trials, generally the entire case hinges upon the voir dire. Despite the fact police found drugs in possession of the accused, if that drug evidence is excluded as a result of police misconduct, the accused will be acquitted. If the evidence is not excluded, and the Crown Prosecutor is able to make out the essential elements of the offence, the accused will likely be convicted.
Where a judge finds that an accused’s rights under the Charter have been breached, an accused then applies to have the evidence excluded under section 24(2) of the Charter. In order to invoke section 24(2) of the Charter, there must be:
- Infringement of Charter rights;
- A nexus between the infringement and the evidence to be excluded (generally) and
- The effects of the breach warrant the exclusion of evidence.
The purpose of section 24(2) of the Charter is to ensure that evidence obtained by police illegally will not further damage the repute of the administration of justice. Essentially, the court is telling police that even though drugs were found in possession of the accused, the manner in which those drugs were found was illegal and will not be tolerated.
In order to determine if the police violated your constitutional rights, it is important to hire a criminal defence lawyer experienced in representing individuals charged with drug offences. Search and seizure law is highly technical and the difference between a conviction and acquittal is often hiring the right lawyer. Cory Wilson has successfully represented countless individuals charged with drug offences.