Drug Offences in Victoria
If you have been charged with a drug offence in Victoria, you are facing a prevalent charge that can be taken very seriously by our courts.
In a standard year, the Victoria Police Department will charge anywhere from 800 to over 1500 individuals with drug-related offences. However, with effective representation, there is a chance that you can still avoid a criminal conviction for this type of offence. While Statistics Canada numbers tell us that across British Columbia conviction rates are consistently above 70% for these offences, with our experienced Criminal Defence lawyers we are successful in the vast majority of our cases.
Defending Drug Offences in Victoria
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 out of the courts 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 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 Victoria, numerous agencies offer 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. If you have any questions about specific counselling options please do not hesitate to contact one of our Criminal Defence Lawyers at our Victoria office.
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 Victoria office immediately. We will review your disclosure and identify all 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 at 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.
Victoria Integrated Court
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 Victoria Integrated Court (“VIC”).
According to the Provincial Court of British Columbia itself;
“The Victoria Integrated Court (“VIC”) was established to improve access to health, social and economic services for this group of chronic offenders; to improve public safety; and to hold offenders accountable for their actions in a timely manner. Police, health, social workers and community corrections service providers had responded to the Task Force findings by forming integrated teams to deliver emergency and health services to homeless, mentally disordered and addicted individuals, many of whom were coming into conflict with the law. VIC deals with people supported by one of these teams.”
The VIC is not a court for trials, however most other Criminal Court procedures can take place within the confines of this program. If you think this program may be beneficial for you or someone you know please contact one of our Criminal Defence Lawyers as soon as possible and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
The Investigation of Drug Offences in Victoria
The investigation of Drug Offences in Victoria 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 you while the police are searching you following that arrest.
The Victoria Police Department also undertakes large-scale drug investigations that are often conducted by the VPD Strike Force. The VPD Strike Force employs a variety of tactics such as surveillance, confidential informants or undercover agents to provide them with information about offending 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 Victoria
If you have been arrested for a minor drug offence like simple possession, you will likely 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 to attend a police station for the purposes of fingerprinting. In Victoria fingerprinting normally takes place at the VPD Headquarters at 850 Caledonia Ave. 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 follow all conditions, because 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 police custody until you are brought to a bail hearing. 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. It is in your best interest to seek the assistance of a criminal defence lawyer for this appearance.
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 Victoria office as soon as possible so that we can use our knowledge and experience with this process to quickly secure your release.