Certain drugs are illegal under Canadian federal laws, including cocaine, crystal meth and medical drugs used without a prescription, such as oxycodone. Drug offences include possession, manufacturing and trafficking. Punishments range anywhere from fines to significant jail sentences. In order to secure a conviction in a drug-related case, Crown counsel have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant physically did the prohibited act and that they intended to do it.
Under the Canadian legal system, all defendants are innocent until proven guilty. However, if you are facing charges and believe that they are without merit, being found “not guilty” is not a foregone conclusion. To make sure that you get a fair trial, you should have experienced drug charge lawyers in BC by your side. To help you gain a better understanding of the burden of proof as it pertains to prohibited drugs, this post will delve deeper into what Crown counsel have to prove with a drug offence charge.
What is Burden of Proof in a Criminal Court Case?
Burden of proof is the obligation on a party in a court case to prove their assertion. In a civil case, the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff, whereas in a criminal case, it rests on the government. The standard of proof required depends on the type of case.
In a civil case, the plaintiff must show that it is more likely than not that the defendant is liable, whereas in a criminal case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. The burden of proof must be applied to each essential element of the offence. For example, in a drug offence, the prosecution must prove that the accused knew that the substance was drugs.
Criminal cases can be won when Crown counsel fails to prove any single essential element of an offence. The defense team doesn’t have to dispute every single fact–just creating reasonable doubt in one essential area can result in an acquittal. For example, a case could be won simply because the Crown failed to bring evidence that a drug transaction occured in British Columbia. Nothing is assumed and everything must be proven in a criminal trial. Saying that, Crown will be prepared with evidence on every essential element.
What Does the Prosecutor Have to Prove?
In order to be convicted of a drug offence, Crown counsel must show clear and convincing evidence that the accused was in possession of the illegal substance, that they knew the drug was illegal, and for trafficking that they intended to sell it.However, the amount of evidence required to convict someone of a drug offence varies depending on the severity of the charge.
For example, if the accused is charged with simple possession of a small amount of illicit substances for personal use, the prosecutor may only need to prove that they were in possession of the drug. However, if the accused is charged with drug trafficking, Crown counsel would need to provide evidence that they were selling or distributing the drug. In any drug case, it is up to Crown counsel to provide sufficient evidence to convince the court that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Criminal law states that prosecutors must prove that the substances in question are illegal. The drug must be listed on the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) to proceed with the criminal case.
If the prosecution charges someone with drug possession, they must be able to prove that the substance in question is, in fact, an illegal drug. Otherwise, the charges may be dropped. To do this, the prosecution may send the substance to a lab for testing and provide a drug certificate as evidence. However, if the prosecution cannot technically prove that the defendant possessed drugs, the charges may be dropped. In such cases, it is important to have an experienced lawyer who can challenge the evidence and ensure that your rights are protected.
Illegal Drug Possession
Next, the prosecution must prove that the defendant possessed the drugs. This includes having the drugs on their person, owning them jointly with someone else or possessing drugs in another location with the intention to use, give or sell them. Just finding the drugs isn’t enough–Crown counsel must prove that the defendant knew about the drugs and had control over them.
Knowledge of Drug Possession
A defendant could argue that they didn’t know about the drugs as part of their defense. For example, the defendant could have picked up another person’s bag, not knowing that it had a controlled substance inside. The prosecution can’t prove that the defendant committed drug crimes because they acted unknowingly.
Similarly, drug possession charges require Crown counsel to prove that the defendant knew they were handling an illegal drug. They could have mistaken the drug for a legal substance, such as herbs. If the defense can raise a reasonable doubt , the end result could be an acquittal.
Control Over the Illegal Drugs
In order to prove a drug offence,Crown counsel needs evidence to show that the drug was in the defendant’s “constructive possession.” This means that the defendant had control over the drug, even if they were not physically holding it at the time. The prosecution must prove this beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction. Typically, drug possession charges infer that the defendant had control over the drugs. However, there are many circumstances where this may not be the case. For example, if the drugs were found in a shared living space, it may be difficult to prove that the defendant had sole control over them. As such, the prosecution must carefully consider all of the evidence before bringing charges in drug possession cases.
Drug Trafficking and Manufacturing
A drug trafficking or manufacturing criminal case could result in severe charges, including life in prison. Crown counsel may bring evidence that the defendant owned tools involved in drug manufacturing, however, the defendant could create reasonable doubt by arguing that they used those tools for legal purposes.
The Crown counsel might try to show that the defendant possessed more drugs than they could possibly use, implying that they’re selling drugs to others. Some amounts automatically point to a crime, like owning over an ounce of heroin. Crown counsel will often call an expert to testify about what amounts of drugs could be for personal use and what amounts constitute possession for the purpose of trafficking.