Drug Offences in Edmonton
If you have been charged with a drug offence in Edmonton, you are facing a prevalent charge that is taken very seriously by our courts. In 2015, Statistics Canada reported a total of 11,722 incidents of drug offences across Alberta. However, with effective representation, there is a chance that you can still avoid a criminal conviction for this offence. Of the 11,722 reported incidents, Statistics Canada shows that there were only 1,093 convictions for simple possession and 495 convictions for other more serious drug offences.
Defending Drug Offences in Edmonton
The lower rate of conviction can be largely attributed to out of court efforts made by the prosecution and defence counsel to resolve these offences outside of trial. Indeed, at Oykhman Criminal Defence we have resolved hundreds of drug charges through a number of pre-trial resolutions that have allowed our client to avoid the stressful and terrifying experience of going to trial while ensuring they did not receive a criminal record. Once we are retained, we will go through your case and identify any weaknesses or issues with the evidence against you. We will typically use this information in early case resolution meetings with the Crown prosecutor to persuade the Crown to divert our client or to join us in an application for a discharge.
Some examples of pre-trial diversions include Alternative Measures or Mental Health Diversion. Upon the successful completion of these programs, the Crown will withdraw the charges against you, and you will be able to walk away from your charge with no criminal record. If you are not eligible for either of these programs, you might be a good candidate for a discharge and can avoid a criminal record even after you have been found guilty of the offence. To find out more about pre-trial diversions or discharges, please visit our FAQ and our Resolutions page.
If you are charged with a drug offence for which you will receive jail in the event of conviction, if you commit the offence to support a drug addiction, and if you have no gang affiliation, there is a chance you could be eligible for the Edmonton Drug Treatment Court Service (EDTCS). The EDTCS is a program run in partnership with the Provincial Court of Alberta, Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, Justice Canada and the Edmonton John Howard Society. The purpose of the service is to help an offender overcome addiction and reduce rates of recidivism by providing the offender with an alternative to jail. If you are accepted to the program, you will be required to plead guilty to the offence and comply with strict bail conditions that are designed to facilitate your recovery while you are in the program. You will be supervised by staff members of EDTCS, and will be required to meet weekly with a drug treatment court Judge to discuss your progress in the program. The Edmonton Drug Court is held on Wednesdays at 1:00pm in courtroom 267 in the Edmonton Courthouse. You will also be subject to random urinalysis tests for the duration of the program, and you must participate in the program for a minimum of one year. However, once you have successfully completed the program, you will be given a non-custodial one day sentence instead of the substantial period of incarceration that you would have otherwise received. If you are interested in the program, contact one the criminal defence lawyers in our Edmonton office to discuss whether this is a good option for you.
If you think that you might want to pursue pre-trial diversion or make a discharge application, it is often helpful to seek drug addiction counseling as soon as possible. Seeking counseling is not indicative of your guilt, but is a very effective way of showing the Crown and the court that you are remorseful about your actions and that it would not be productive for you to receive a criminal record for this offence. In Edmonton, Alberta Health Services offers drug addictions counseling services that are well regarded by our courts. Contact them as soon as possible so that we will be in a stronger position to negotiate an effective resolution to your charges.
While diversions and discharges are often excellent ways to resolve less serious drug offences such as simple possession, more serious charges like possession for the purposes of trafficking, drug production, or importing and exporting drugs are far too grave for these types of resolutions. In fact, some charges like drug production even have a mandatory minimum sentence of incarceration following conviction. If you have been charged with more than simple possession, contact one of the criminal defence lawyers in our Edmonton office immediately. We will review your disclosure and identify all and any potential defences we can use to prevent incriminating evidence from being used against you in trial.
In fact, it often happens that the police either inadvertently or intentionally breach one or more of the rights guaranteed to you by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If that is the case, we can make a motion on your behalf where we argue that any evidence that was collected against you in breach of the Charter should not be admitted into trial. If we are successful in our argument, it is often the case that there is no longer enough evidence for you to be convicted of the offence.
The Investigation of Drug Offences in Edmonton
The investigation of Drug Offences in Edmonton can occur in a variety of ways. Most commonly, people are caught with drugs when they are stopped by the police while committing another offence. For example, you could be pulled over for speeding, and when the police approach your vehicle they might smell drugs on the inside and ask to search your vehicle. Alternatively, you could be arrested for another offence and the drugs could be found on your person while the police are searching you following that arrest.
The Edmonton Police Service also undertakes large-scale drug investigations that can be conducted by the EPS Drug Section. The EPS Drug Section can employ a variety of tactics such as surveillance, confidential informants or undercover agents to provide them with information about offender activity. This information can subsequently be used to obtain a warrant to search your property, and can be used to obtain grounds for your arrest. Once you have been arrested and charged with a drug offence, the matter is passed on to a Federal Crown prosecutor who will take over the prosecution of your case.
Bail Conditions for Drug Offences in Edmonton
If you have been arrested for a minor drug offence like simple possession, it is likely the case that you will be released by the police shortly after your arrest. Prior to releasing you they will have given you some documents that will direct you to attend court, and that will direct you to attend a police station for the purposes of fingerprinting. In Edmonton, fingerprinting takes place at the Edmonton Police Headquarters at 962-103A Avenue, Edmonton AB, T5H 0H7. You will also have additional conditions imposed on you that might require you to remain within the jurisdiction, keep the peace and be of good behavior, and to abstain from drugs and alcohol. It is vital that you do as you are directed, for if you are caught violating any of the conditions of your release, you will be arrested and charged with a new criminal offence.
If you have been charged with a more serious drug offence like possession for the purposes of trafficking or drug production, you can expect that you will be held in the arrest processing unit at the police station until you are brought to a bail hearing. The Arrest Processing Unit is located in the basement of the Edmonton Police Headquarters. Typically, due to the very serious nature of these charges the police and the Crown will strive to keep you in custody following your arrest. If you are kept in custody, within 24 hours you should be brought to your first bail hearing. Your first bail hearing will typically take place at the Edmonton bail hearing office located on the Main Floor, SW Exterior entry of the Brownlee Building at 10365 97 St NW. At the Edmonton bail hearing office they run bail hearings 24 hours a day where you will appear before a justice of the peace either over the phone or over CCTV. It is in your best interest to seek the assistance of a criminal defence lawyer for this appearance. If you fail to secure your release at this stage, you will typically have to wait until normal business hours when you can have another bail hearing before a judge in the Edmonton Courthouse. The bail hearing process is very intimidating, confusing, and if not conducted properly, can result in a prolonged period spent in custody.
To ensure that you spend as little time as possible in custody, contact one of the criminal defence lawyers at our office as soon as possible so that we can use our knowledge and experience with this process to quickly secure your release.
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