Depending on the nature of the charges that you are facing, and depending on your personal circumstances, you may be able to get your drug charges withdrawn and completely avoid a criminal record through a diversion program. If this is your first or second offence and you have been charged with a minor drug offence like possession of marijuana, you may be eligible for a diversion program like Alternative Measures (AMP). AMP is a program that will require that you accept responsibility for your actions and complete conditions such as counselling, community service, or other activities that are assigned to you. Upon successful completion of the program, the charges against you will be withdrawn and you will not receive a criminal record.
If your offence is related to a mental illness, there is a chance that you could be diverted to the Mental Health Diversion Program (MHD). MHD differs from alternative measures in that the program is heavily focused on helping you treat the mental health issues that contributed to the offence. Should you be successful in completing the treatments and activities assigned to you, the charges against you will be withdrawn.
Avoid a Criminal Record with a Discharge
If you are not eligible for a diversion program, you can still avoid a criminal record with a successful application for a discharge. Unlike diversion programs, in order to obtain a discharge, you do have to plead guilty to the offence. However, if granted a discharge, you will not receive a criminal conviction notwithstanding your guilty plea. If you receive a conditional discharge, you will need to comply with a set of conditions for a fixed period of time, after which you will be permanently discharged from the offence. If you receive an absolute discharge, you will be permanently and immediately discharged from your offence without having to comply with any conditions whatsoever. Unfortunately, if you have been charged with a trafficking offence (other than possession with intent to traffick marijuana under 3 kilograms), drug production, or importing drugs, you will not be eligible for a discharge.
Other Sentencing Options
If you are not eligible for a diversion or discharge, it does not mean that you cannot secure a favourable sentence prior to trial.
For example, if you are charged with a drug trafficking offence, it is possible that with the assistance of one of our skilled criminal defence lawyers, weaknesses in the case against you may be leveraged to persuade the Crown Prosecutor to reduce your charges to simple possession. If successful, you will have the opportunity to make an application for a discharge and potentially avoid a criminal record.
If you have been charged with a serious offence like trafficking or drug importing, our lawyers can negotiate with the Crown and try get them to join us in an application for a suspended sentence. A suspended sentence will require that you adhere to strict probationary conditions for a set period of time, however, it will allow you to avoid any time spent in prison. If the Crown is pursuing jail time, you can also seek a conditional sentence order or what people more commonly understand as ‘house arrest’. A conditional sentence order will allow you to serve your time in the community under very strict conditions, and you will be able to remain out of prison so long as you comply with the terms of the order.
No matter what drug offence you have been charged with, you should contact one of our criminal defence lawyers as soon as possible. Once we have met with you, we will be able to assess the case against you and tell you about the full range of defences and resolutions available to you. No matter what route you pick, we will provide you with full and effective representation all the way through, and we will work to ensure that you receive the best outcome possible for your charges.