When it comes to media attention on drug trafficking, Brampton and Mississauga, Ontario, often make national news. In 2022, the cities were linked to:

  • A drug raid that seized $65 million in drugs and resulted in 20 arrests on trafficking and other charges.
  • A $12 million drug bust with four trafficking arrests.
  • A Peel Regional Police operation that seized $25 million worth of drugs and led to five trafficking arrests.

The cities were linked to some additional major police operations in 2023, including $67 million and $6 million drug busts that included drug trafficking arrests of Brampton residents. Given the exceptionally harsh penalties that Ontario drug laws mandate upon conviction, it can be assumed that those arrested hired a highly competent drug trafficking lawyer.

When it comes to media attention on drug possession charges, Brampton and Mississauga rarely make the news – not for any lack of drug possession arrests, however, as Statistics Canada reported that Peel Regional Police arrested over 1,000 people on drug possession charges in 2022. While it’s unclear how many of those arrested were from Brampton or Mississauga, the bulk of the Peel Region’s population nonetheless resides in those cities.

No matter where Peel Police laid possession-related drug charges—Brampton, Mississauga, or Caledon—those arrested sought out an experienced drug crime lawyer, as Caledon, Mississauga, and Brampton court systems tend to take a hard line on drug possession, and may even hand down harsh sentences for possession of small amounts of illegal drugs.

Navigating Legal Charges of Drug Possession in Brampton

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Ontario-wise and throughout Canada, regulates illegal drug activity by prohibiting possessing, trafficking, importing, exporting, and producing the 100s of different drugs and substances listed under the Act. Listed drugs and substances are categorized by “Schedule” according to their perceived threat to the public.

Schedule I covers the ones considered most life-threatening and likely to be abused. These include methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, and most other opioids. Schedule II drugs also have a high potential for abuse, and pose a significant risk to users. Drugs and substances in this category include synthetic cannabinoid receptor type 1 agonists, their salts, derivatives, isomers, and related derivatives.

Schedule III drugs include hallucinogens like LSD and magic mushrooms, which may have a moderate potential for harm and/or abuse.

Drug possession under the Act is defined under Section 4 (1), which states, “[e]xcept as authorized under the regulations, no person shall possess a substance included in Schedule I, II or III.”

The “authorized under the regulations” segment of this definition accounts for any legal medical or scientific use of the listed drugs and substances. To determine what constitutes “possession” under the law, the Act refers to Subsection 4(3) of the Criminal Code, which states:

“a person has anything in possession when he has it in his personal possession or knowingly (i) has it in the actual possession or custody of another person, or (ii) has it in any place, whether or not that place belongs to or is occupied by him, for the use or benefit of himself or of another person; and (b) where one of two or more persons, with the knowledge and consent of the rest, has anything in his custody or possession, it shall be deemed to be in the custody and possession of each and all of them.”

The Legal Penalties for Drug Possession

Drug possession in Canada is a hybrid offence, which means that it can be charged as either a summary conviction offence or as the higher tier, more punishing indictable offence.

Maximum penalties are established according to drug schedules. Schedule I, II, and III drug possession carry a respective seven-, five-, and three-year maximum prison sentence upon conviction if charged as an indictable offence. As a summary conviction offence, all three drug schedules carry a maximum $1,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment, while subsequent convictions carry a maximum $2,000 fine and/or one-year imprisonment.

Judges are required to consider several aggravating factors to determine an appropriate sentence. If a judge decides not to sentence a convicted offender to imprisonment despite the existence of one or more aggravating factors, they are required to explain why in their decision. Aggravating factors that combine with drug possession to influence harsher sentencing and likely prison time include:

  • Possession, use, or threat of using a weapon.
  • Actual or threatened violence.
  • Previous drug convictions.
  • Using the services of a minor in the commission of the offence.

In some cases, a judge may also consider the quantity of possessed drugs as an aggravating or mitigating factor for determining sentencing decisions.

Drug Possession Defence in Brampton, and the Rest of the Peel Region

If Peel Regional Police arrest you on drug charges, it’s essential to contact a skilled drug possession lawyer as soon as possible. The most important drug offence legal advice to keep in mind before such contact is to avoid making any statements to police and/or prosecutors until you’ve spoken with your drug law legal representation.

Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon police precincts may not obstruct your Charter Right to keep silent until consulting with a lawyer. Let your lawyer know if they try to impel you to talk and impede your ability to seek legal counsel swiftly.

As part of your defence, your lawyer may try to negotiate a settlement, especially if the Crown’s evidence seems weak or flawed. The Crown may also be amenable to a settlement if the charges are a first-time offence. Elements of the Drug Act legislation encourage favourable settlements if the offender agrees to participate in a drug treatment program.

If settlement does not appear viable, your lawyer will need to strategize an effective defence to challenge the charges. To secure a conviction, the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had knowledge of, or control over, the drug(s) and that the substance(s) are scheduled under the Act. Your lawyer can raise doubt by showing that you did not know that you possessed the drugs, that you had no control over them, or that you did not know that the substance was a controlled drug.

Your lawyer may also be able to challenge police handling and testing of the alleged substance, which might throw its inclusion as a Scheduled drug into doubt. Drug testing under the Act must follow strict legal protocols to ensure the validity of the findings – any errors and mistakes police make in testing can invalidate the substance for evidentiary purposes.

Another drug possession defence strategy could involve Charter Rights violations, which police frequently commit during searches and seizures of drugs, with or without a warrant. The police must follow strict protocols in conducting searches and seizures, and evidence seized can be excluded at trial if they fail to comply with the Charter.

An effective defence is crucial for securing a positive outcome in drug possession cases. If you’ve been charged with drug possession anywhere in the Greater Toronto Area, secure the skilled legal representation offered by an experienced criminal lawyer — Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon residents can call for a free, confidential consultation.

By |2024-02-06T21:13:46+00:00February 12th, 2024|Drug Charges|

5/5 - (2 votes)

Criminal Lawyers Association
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Criminal Lawyers Association
Toronnto Lawyers Association
Law Society of Ontario
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