Drug Trafficking Lawyers in Saskatchewan
Table of Contents
- What is Drug Trafficking?
- Bail Process and Conditions for Drug Trafficking Charges in Saskatchewan
- Penalties for Drug Trafficking Charges in Saskatchewan
- Defending Drug Trafficking Charges in Saskatchewan
- Further Reading
- What’s Next?
- Drug Trafficking FAQs
What is Drug Trafficking?
Drug trafficking covers a broad range of alleged crimes but they all have one thing in common: they can have a huge impact on the rest of your life.
In Saskatchewan, drug trafficking is taken extremely seriously and is monitored by the Regina Integrated Drug Unit, the Saskatoon Police Service Drug Unit, and the RCMP. It is common for these services to work together both informally, and formally, such as the Integrated Crime Reduction Team in Saskatoon, which has members from the Saskatoon Police service and the RCMP.
Recently, the Saskatoon Police Service Drug Unit has warned the province that drug trafficking is not merely a “big city” problem, following the discovery of over 1,000 doses of fentanyl as well as methamphetamines and cocaine in Osler.
The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (the “CDSA”) says the following about trafficking in a substance:
Trafficking in substance
5 (1) No person shall traffic in a substance included in Schedule I, II, III, IV or V or in any substance represented or held out by that person to be such a substance.
Furthermore, it says the following about possession for the purpose of trafficking:
Possession for purpose of trafficking
(2) No person shall, for the purpose of trafficking, possess a substance included in Schedule I, II, III, IV or V.
Refer to possession for the purpose of trafficking for more information regarding section 5(2).
Drug trafficking can include the following activities:
- Sending; and/or
Because of the seriousness of these types of charges, the punishment for convictions is severe and includes significant jail time.
Investigation of Drug Trafficking Charges in Saskatchewan
An investigation of an alleged drug trafficking offence in Saskatchewan is typically conducted by experienced police officers. Because drug trafficking is considered such a serious offence, special drug units exist to help investigate it.
These units routinely investigate street-level drug dealers and crack houses or other locations where drug use is known to be common. Together, they conduct investigations to eliminate illegal drugs production and trafficking operations across Saskatchewan.
These agencies have plenty of resources to apply to your investigation. The team is likely experienced in drug trafficking cases, which makes them less likely to make errors during the investigation process.
That does not mean, however, that our criminal defence team, as experienced drug trafficking lawyers in Saskatchewan, cannot find gaps or faults in the evidence against you.
There are many ways you may have come to the attention of the police.
Officers may be following:
- A “tip-off” from an informant;
- Suspicious activity observed during regular drug investigation duties; or
- Suspicious activity was observed during a routine traffic stop.
Police drug investigations usually include standard techniques like witness statements and photographic evidence, but may also include:
- Use of undercover officers;
- Use of confidential informants;
- Months of video surveillance;
- Months of telephone communication interceptions;
- Judicially authorized searches of vehicles, homes, storage lockers, etc.;
- Seizure of drugs, weapons, cell phones, scales, etc.; and/or
- Seizure of property connected with criminal activity (including cars, cash and even houses).
The more sophisticated the drug operation, the lengthier and more thorough the investigation will be.
If there is enough evidence to press charges, the police will arrest you. You will be taken to an RCMP detachment or city police holding cells for questioning and processing. The Crown Prosecutor will ultimately decide whether there is enough evidence to make a conviction in court likely. If so, the charges will proceed.
Bail Process and Conditions for Drug Trafficking Charges in Saskatchewan
How do I get myself or a loved one out on bail for drug trafficking charges in Saskatchewan?
It can be very difficult to get bail for a drug trafficking charge in Saskatchewan. Two important considerations are the amount and type of drug you have allegedly trafficked.
You will likely be held in custody at a provincial correctional facility and require a formal bail hearing to secure your release. If you are a male, you will be transferred to the nearest of the following: the Regina Provincial Correctional Centre, the Prince Albert Provincial Correctional Centre, or the Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre. If you are a female, you will be transferred to the Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Prince Albert. In some cases, you may be held at the local RCMP detachment or municipal police cells.
The bail hearing can be held within as little as 24 hours, a period of time that starts from the moment of arrest or detention. However, the Crown can request up to three days to prepare for your bail hearing and may ask the court for longer. An effective defence lawyer will ensure that your bail hearing occurs as soon as possible so that you are not in custody for any longer than necessary.
The Regina Provincial Correctional Centre address is:
Regina Provincial Correctional Centre
4040E 9th Avenue North
Regina, SK S4P 3A6
Tel: (306) 924-9000
The Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre address is:
Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre
910 60 Street East
Saskatoon, SK S7K 2H6
Tel: (306) 956-8800
The Prince Albert Correctional Centre address is
Prince Albert Correctional Centre
3021 1 Avenue West
Prince Albert, SK S6V 6G1
Tel: (306) 953-3000
In Prince Albert, the Pine Grove Correctional Centre address is:
Pine Grove Correctional Centre
1700 7 Avenue North-East
Spruce Home, SK S0J 2N0
Tel: (306) 953-3100
Loved ones are not able to contact you while you are detained. Unless the detained person is a minor, the police will not release any information to friends or family due to privacy laws. Your lawyer is the only person allowed to contact you. Once the police have verified your lawyer’s details, they will pass on information about your whereabouts, if requested.
Given these difficulties, while you are held in custody, it is best to appoint a competent defence lawyer as soon as possible to manage the legal process and communicate with loved ones. After an arrest, the police must provide you with the opportunity to call a lawyer in private. If you choose to exercise this right, the police must stop questioning you until you have had the opportunity to do so.
Once you retain one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers, we will begin working to secure your release on bail.
We will immediately do the following:
- Call into the correctional centre where you are being held and speak to you.
- Contact the prosecutor assigned to the bail hearing to start negotiating your release.
- Order and secure a copy of the police information package that details the allegations against you in advance of the bail hearing. This allows the lawyer to make meaningful representations to the court about why you should be released on bail.
- Conduct either an in-person or teleconference bail hearing to secure your release.
When you attend your bail hearing, the judge will consider the following factors:
- Is detention necessary to secure your attendance in court?
- Is detention necessary to protect the public from a substantial risk of re-offending?
- Is detention necessary in all the circumstances to maintain confidence in the administration of justice?
Although it is unlikely that you will be denied bail for drug trafficking, tight restrictions may nevertheless be applied to your release.
Rest assured, we will work to not only secure your release but also ensure the least restrictive set of bail conditions (including the minimum cash deposit) possible.
In order for our lawyers to secure less stringent conditions, the judge will need to be satisfied that you will attend court as required and that you pose no significant risk of harm to the public. This may sometimes be difficult in an assault case, but not impossible.
Our lawyers are often successful at persuading the Crown Prosecutor in charge of bail to let our clients out. If we can’t convince the prosecutor, we can conduct a formal bail hearing and work to convince the court. Even if you are ultimately detained, we can appeal that decision on very short notice through a bail review. Such reviews are conducted at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Saskatchewan.
Where can I pay for bail for drug trafficking charges in Saskatchewan?
If you or a loved one are charged with drug trafficking in Saskatchewan and granted bail, you may be required to provide a cash deposit to secure release. The mode by which you pay the cash deposit will depend on the courthouse at which your bail hearing is held. Your defence lawyer will advise you on the procedures specific to your location and will be able to explain the options for payment to you, or to a loved one who is making the payment on your behalf.
To pay your own bail, you can make a payment after your hearing, assuming you have sufficient funds with you to do so.
How do I change my release conditions for drug trafficking charges in Saskatchewan?
Release on bail with drug trafficking charges is difficult. If it happens, it will almost always mean either a surety, cash or a no-cash deposit.
Beyond that, you can expect tight restrictions, including refraining from:
- Possessing a mobile phone;
- Leaving your house (house arrest);
- Staying out beyond a certain time (a curfew);
- Breaking any laws;
- Using drugs or alcohol;
- Possessing weapons;
- Possessing firearms;
- Visiting certain places;
- Travelling; and/or
- Contacting certain individuals.
The judge may also impose additional conditions such as:
- Residing where approved;
- Reporting to probation;
- Attending counselling; and/or
- Maintaining or seeking employment.
A variety of factors will be considered when determining your precise restrictions, including:
- Your criminal history;
- Your history of drug/alcohol usage;
- Your physical and mental condition;
- The nature of the alleged offence; and
- The likelihood that you will flee.
If you have already been released, at least for the short term, it is critical that you follow your conditions until they can be changed. Breaching the terms of your release can result in further charges or revocation of your bail, as well as a forfeiture of any cash paid to secure your release. It is important to take these conditions seriously.
Once the matter is in court, we can work with the prosecutor to alter your conditions. This includes either adding exceptions to some of the conditions or eliminating them altogether.
If your court date is far away and you cannot wait until then, we can arrange to have the matter dealt with sooner. Our first priority is always to stabilize your release conditions. That way, you will not feel pressured to plead guilty because of the restrictive terms of your release. Once the conditions are manageable and minimally intrusive to your daily routine, we can focus 100% of our attention on defending the case.
Penalties for Drug Trafficking Charges in Saskatchewan
Typically, if you are found guilty of drug trafficking, you can expect much harsher penalties than with a drug possession charge.
The prosecution will seek jail time in all but the least serious cases (no Conditional Sentence Orders – aka “house arrest”).
For a conviction, your sentence will depend in part on:
- What type of substance you were found guilty of trafficking;
- The quantity of drugs trafficked;
- The number of drug deals you were involved in;
- What other offences were committed at the time; and
- Prior related offences.
If you are found guilty of trafficking any of the following “hard drugs” (those listed in Schedule I or II), you could get a life sentence:
- Marijuana or cannabis resin (hashish) over 3 kgs (up to five years for an amount under 3 kgs);
- MDMA (ecstasy, molly);
Although the above are the most common, there are many more drug types listed in Schedule I and II. It is important to review carefully what type of drug is involved in your case to determine the possible sentence you may be facing if convicted.
Additionally, a mandatory minimum sentence of one year may apply if the trafficking offence involved:
- Organized crime, or a criminal organization as defined under section 467.1(1) of the Code;
- Use or threat of violence;
- Possession, use, or threat of use of a weapon; and/or
- A prior conviction for a similar offence in the previous 10 years.
A mandatory sentence of two years may apply if your offence was committed:
- In or near a school, playground, or other public place frequented by children;
- In a prison; or
- With the help of a child.
Even if you were found guilty of trafficking “lower grade” drugs (those listed in Schedule III or IV), you could receive a sentence of up to 10 years in jail.
The prospect of such harsh penalties makes it critical to have a dedicated and experienced drug trafficking lawyer to defend you as early as possible in your case.
Defending Drug Trafficking Charges in Saskatchewan
What are the best defences to drug trafficking charges in Saskatchewan?
In drug trafficking cases, the Crown does not necessarily need to prove that the substance in question was a drug.
As strange as that may sound, if you represent a substance as a drug and attempt to provide it to another person (regardless of whether you make a profit from the act), it can be enough to secure a conviction for drug trafficking.
Some of the best defences for drug trafficking charges generally revolve around the ways that police gather evidence against you. Was there an anonymous tip? If so, how reliable is this person and what were their motives? If there was a “sting” operation, were there any improper actions by police officers that violated your rights as a Canadian citizen?
Typically, one of the following defences will be used:
- No Consent or Knowledge: If you can clearly demonstrate that you did not consent to, have knowledge of, or control the drug, the chances of a conviction for the prosecution are slim. That said, in order to show this, you may need to prove that you were not in willful and conscious possession of the drug in question. For example:
- You were not aware that the drug was, in fact, a drug;
- You did not know that the drug was on your person;
- You were forced to keep the drug where it was found; and/or
- You had no control over the drug.
- No Proof it was a Controlled Substance: The CDSA is very clear on the drugs that are considered controlled substances. If the prosecution is unable to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the drug you are accused of trafficking is a controlled substance, it will almost be impossible to secure a conviction against you. In some cases, the following problems can lead to evidence not permissible in court:
- The necessary lab evidence that the drug is a controlled substance is missing;
- The appropriate certificate is not obtained; or
- The certificate is not served to the defence.
- Violation of Constitutional Rights: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) sets out your rights before and after your arrest. If the police fail to abide by these rights, it could aid in your defence. In drug trafficking investigations, one of the most common rights violations is your right to be free from unlawful search and seizure.
The availability and strength of any defence depend on the specific facts of your case. Our lawyers have significant experience assessing the availability and strengths of various potential defences in drug trafficking cases, as well as presenting any and all available defences to the court at trial. Even if you believe that you will be found guilty, it is important that you obtain a legal opinion about defences that may be available to you.
How can I help defend drug trafficking charges in Saskatchewan?
If you have been charged with drug trafficking in Saskatchewan, the following can help your lawyer build a strong defence:
- Take detailed notes about your version of events to provide to your lawyer;
- Collect and maintain all documents and records about the event;
- Gather a list of witnesses that may support your version of events; and
- Log any relevant texts, emails, phone calls or photographic evidence.
As soon as you are released on bail, you should start to gather any information that may be of use to your lawyer. What information is relevant will depend on the facts in your case. If you are uncertain what information may be relevant, you should contact one of our lawyers immediately to create a plan of action for gathering information.
To be truly proactive about the matter, consider doing the following:
- Secure proof of employment;
- Secure reference letters;
- Enroll in counselling (anger management/substance abuse/parenting);
- Secure a record of prescriptions; and
- Secure a record of any mental health conditions you suffer from.
These steps can be very helpful for building an effective defence (or convincing the prosecutor to drop the charges altogether).
What can a lawyer do to help me defend against drug trafficking charges in Saskatchewan?
As we start preparing your defence by examining police actions and the evidence against you, there are certain defence strategies that can be used to aid your cause, including:
- Assembling documents, photographs, texts, etc. that contradict the allegation and support your defence;
- Gathering evidence from witnesses that support your version of events;
- Identifying mistakes in the actions of the police, such as Charter breaches;
- Uncovering administrative/systemic errors, such as “Jordan delay,” non-disclosure, lost or destroyed evidence, etc.; and
- Finding weaknesses or “holes” in the Crown’s case that may make it difficult or impossible for them to establish the elements of the offence.
Below are a few notable cases dealing with various aspects of drug trafficking charges:
In R v Fyfe, 2017 SKQB 5 the accused was charged with drug trafficking for selling fentanyl tablets. The accused was initially discovered by police after selling a single tablet, however was later caught selling two more tablets in breach of his release conditions. Though the accused had no prior criminal record and was very young, his overall sentence entailed five years’ incarceration and a requirement to provide a sample of his DNA for forensic analysis, among other conditions.
In R v Anwender, 2021 SKQB 1 the accused was charged with drug trafficking methamphetamine. At issue was whether the Crown had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was trafficking. Based on the evidence provided, the judge found there were other reasonable inferences than the guilt of trafficking, despite acknowledging that money found in the accused’s wallet was the proceeds of a crime. The accused was acquitted of all charges.
Drug trafficking cases can be very complex.
We have tried our best to provide a general outline of what you can expect if you find yourself in this situation, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
To learn more about how we can help, please contact our team of drug trafficking lawyers to conduct a thorough review of your situation so that we can tailor a strategy that targets your successful defence.
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