Having drug possession looming over you can be a daunting experience, but it’s crucial to remember that with a solid defence and a great lawyer, you might be able to avoid conviction or at least reduce the sentence.
With the right strategies, the defence can dispute drug possession charges and protect the future of the accused. Here are the most common legal strategies Ottawa lawyers use the strengthen their clients’ defense against drug possession charges.
Challenging the Search and Seizure Process
A highly effective defence against a drug possession charge is to challenge the legality of the process that led to the discovery of the drugs in the accused’s possession. Here, the goal is to prove that the police didn’t obtain the evidence against the accused individual through legal means.
Courtesy of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, you have the right to be subjected to only reasonable searches. In other words, they can only search you if the authorities have reason to believe that you’re in possession of illegal items or substances.
If the policy violated this right by conducting an illegal search, their evidence could be deemed unconstitutional and will be inadmissible in court. Likewise, if the arrest was illegal, your attorney can argue for dismissing any evidence that was obtained during the process that violated your constitutional rights.
This is called the “Charter Challenge,” as it uses the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as the main defence for challenging the possession charges. Even if the case can’t be dismissed (for example, if there is other evidence), proving the authorities obtained some of their evidence illegally can weaken the Crown’s case.
The search warrant used by the policy when finding the drugs can also be challenged. If the warrant is found invalid, the evidence resulting from the search pursuant to the warrant may be inadmissible in court.
For example, the warrant might be based on unreliable or inaccurate information, which can render it invalid. Depending on the evidence, this could lead to the dismissal of the case, or a not guilty verdict if the judge found that without the dismissed evidence, there is insufficient evidence to prove the possession charges.
Claiming Lack of Knowledge or Intent
To hand over a conviction and sentence based on drug possession charges, the Crown’s prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had full knowledge of possessing the illegal substances.
Therefore, if your lawyer can show that had no intent to possess or weren’t even aware of the drug, this can be an excellent defence.
For example, if you borrowed your friend’s bag and didn’t know that your friend had drugs in the bag. After the drugs were found during a police search, your defence can argue that you had no knowledge of the drugs and, thus, aren’t responsible for the possession charges.
Disputing the Possession Charges
The first thing the Crown must prove in a drug possession trial is that the accused was in possession of the drugs. If your attorney can show that the drugs found on your premises or inside your property belonged to someone else, you have a good case for your defence.
Possession goes hand in hand with knowledge so the claim that the substances belong to someone else can be bolstered by the fact that you didn’t know that this person possesses the drugs.
For example, if the drugs are found in a common area in a home you share with roommates, you can argue that the drugs belong to the roommates and you had no knowledge that they’re keeping drugs in the home.
Alternative Sentence or Reduced Charges
If the possession of drugs and police procedure can’t be disputed, an alternative defence route is to argue for an alternative sentence or reduced charge (which will automatically reduce the sentence as well).
For example, if this is your first criminal charge and you were found possession of a small amount, your defence can argue that you receive a lesser sentence. Reducing the charges and sentence will enable you to avoid a much longer sentence and the long-term ramifications of a severe drug possession conviction.
Questioning Witness Reliability
Yet another alternative defence strategy against drug possession charges could be to question witness reliability.
For example, your defence attorney might challenge the reliability of the person who took your drug test or the credibility of any witnesses who offered evidence or testimony on behalf of the prosecution.
By bringing the crowd’s evidence and witness testimony in doubt, your defence can showcase reasonable suspicion of whether there is a case against you.
A successful defence against drug possession charges in Ottawa is possible with the right strategy. With their deep understanding of the law and experience in adequate strategic approaches, defence attorneys can use several of the strategies we’ve mentioned here.
Thankfully if you’re facing a drug possession charge, there are many opportunities to fight it. If you need legal assistance, then contact AGP LLP today. We’ll be more than happy to give you a consultation and advise on how you can challenge the charges you’re facing.