Drug offences can take a variety of forms. They include: possession, possession for the purpose of trafficking, actual trafficking, production and importing. Additionally, there are a variety of prohibited substances in Canada. These include commonly known substances such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin, as well as lesser-known substances, some of which are legal in other countries, such as khat.
The Crown must prove that the individual charged has knowledge and control of the substance they are charged with. This means it is often possible to fight the case by showing that there is a doubt over whether the person knew about, or had control over the substance. In many other cases, where it is clear that the individual charged had knowledge and control of the substance, the defence strategy is based on violations of the rights’ of the individual charged. These usually involve the individual’s rights to privacy and/or their freedom to move about the community without interference from the police. Specifically, it is based on breaches of the individual’s rights under s. 8 (the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure) and/or s. 9 (the right to be free from arbitrary detention and arrest) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is possible to have the drugs that form the evidence in the case to be ‘thrown out’ as a result of a successful Charter application based on breaches of those rights.