The Charge

In addition to proving that you possessed a certain substance, the Crown must prove that you possessed it for the purpose of trafficking. To support this conclusion, the Judge might consider any of the following factors:

  • Is the amount of drugs found so large that it is inconsistent with personal use?
  • Is the substance of high purity or quality?
  • Is the substance worth a lot of money?
  • Is it packaged in a way consistent with trafficking (small quantities of similar amount)?
  • Was it found with items commonly used to traffic drugs (scales, baggies, twist ties, score sheet, etc.)
  • Was a large amount of money found with the drugs, consistent with prior sales?
  • Was a debt list or “score sheet” found with the drugs?

There are many different scenarios in which you may find yourself arrested and charged for trafficking; two common scenarios involve the following facts:

  1. A vehicle you are travelling in is pulled over on the highway. The police tell you that the initial reason for the stop is related to traffic safety. They ask you a series of questions, and eventually tell you that they believe you have drugs in the car. They search your car and your person.
  2. The police execute a search warrant on your apartment, house, car, or any other property that you have a right to privacy in. Several police officers armed with heavy weapons thoroughly search your property.

In each of these scenarios, the police have acted in a way that may have breached your rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Those rights include: the right to be free from unreasonable search; the right not to be stopped unless there is a good reason; the right to have any search done in a reasonable way; the right not to be questioned until you get the chance to talk to a lawyer. There are severe legal consequences for the prosecution if the police are found to have breached any of your rights.


You may find yourself subject to very strict release conditions. Because drug traffickers are believed to do their business by difficult-to-trace “burner” cellphones, a Judge may prohibit you from owning, using, or possessing a cellphone, an indispensable tool in today’s high-tech society. In addition, you may be ordered to hand in your passport and not leave Alberta.

Calgary Criminal Lawyers can help minimize the strain of your release conditions. In appropriate cases, we can arrange for your conditions to be varied or deleted entirely from the terms of your release, allowing you to carry on a normal life while your case goes through the system.

The Defence

We can assess the police conduct in your case after getting your version of what happened and comparing it with the police reports and notes of what happened. We are skilled at identifying any breaches of your rights and ensuring you get the maximum benefit at the trial of your case. In certain cases, we may get the prosecutor to drop the charges outright, or agree to a less serious charge.

In addition to any breaches of your rights, we will examine all angles of the case to determine whether or not the Crown can prove their case, and we will vigorously attack any weakness we detect.

The Sentence

The potential penalties are much more serious than for a charge of straight possession.

Jail is sought by the Crown Prosecutor in cases involving all but the very least serious cases. You need an experienced lawyer who knows all the important facts to emphasize to the judge. We may also be able to negotiate a plea to a less serious offence, or an offence involving a smaller amount than originally alleged. All these things can help you at the sentencing stage, and Calgary Criminal lawyers will explore all these options.

Generally, your sentence will be determined in large part by the amount and type of substance involved.

You could get a maximum sentence of LIFE in prison if you are guilty of this offence in relation to:

  • cocaine
  • heroin
  • marihuana or cannabis resin (hashish) in an amount over 3 kilograms
  • morphine
  • OxyContin
  • codeine
  • opium
  • GHB

In addition, if you may be liable to a minimum sentence of one or two years if you used violence, a weapon, got a child involved in the offence, committed the crime near a school, or did it in association with a criminal gang.

You could get a maximum jail term of 5 years less a day if the substance is marihuana or cannabis resin (hashish) in a quantity under 3 kilos.

Your sentence could be as high as 10 years if the offence is in relation to LSD or psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”).

You could get up to 3 If your offence is in relation to anabolic steroids, barbiturates, including clonazepam, Amytal, Nembutal, diazepram, or Seconal.