Drug trafficking and drug possession charges both start with someone being arrested for having drugs in their possession.
However, when it comes to the nature of these charges, the major difference has to do with intent and whether it’s a first time offence or not.
Drug trafficking charges occur when the intent is to sell and distribute controlled substances, most often in relation to a criminal organisation that smuggles drugs.
Drug possession, on the other hand, means that illegal drugs were found on your person or anywhere you had reasonable access to (such as in your car or purse). It can also involve the use of drugs at the time of your arrest.
Common Charges Related to Drug Trafficking and Possession
When it comes to drug trafficking and possession charges, here are some related charges:
- Possession of a prohibited or controlled substance
- Possession of a controlled substance for the purposes of trafficking
- Trafficking in a prohibited or controlled substance
- Producing, cultivating, or growing a controlled substance
- Use of a prohibited or controlled substance
- Importing, exporting, or possessing for the purpose of exporting a controlled substance
Consequences of Drug Trafficking and Possession
When it comes to drug trafficking, the maximum sentence is life in prison but this depends on the type of drug being trafficked plus any prior convictions.
For simple drug possession, the maximum penalty for a first time offender is a fine of $1,000 and/or six months in prison. Repeat offenders can face a $2,000 fine and/or one year in prison.
Frequently Asked Questions about Drug Trafficking and Possession Charges in Alberta
1. What are the best defences to a drug charge?
Preparing the best defence depends upon the circumstances of your case. For example it’s possible to beat a drug charge if you can show that you did not have knowledge of or consent to possessing or trafficking the drug.
You may also be able to argue constitutional rights (otherwise known as Charter rights) violations such as unlawful searches and seizures and defective search warrants.
2. How do I get drug charges dropped in Alberta?
There are diversion programs available through the court system in which you can have your charges dropped depending on the nature of the charges and your personal circumstances. However, this is only likely to work for first or second offences that involve minor drug charges.
If you are not eligible for these programs to have drug charges dropped, you can still avoid a criminal record by applying for a discharge and pleading guilty to the offence. This does not apply to trafficking offences, drug production, or importing drug charges.
3. What exactly is drug possession?
Simple possession is when you are charged for having in your possession a controlled substance listed in the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA). This document lists 8 different schedules (or categories) of controlled drugs organised by severity.
The criminal penalty for drug possession depends on the type of drug according to the Schedule and the quantity of the drug.
Possession itself includes having the drugs on your person, knowingly placing them in the possession of another person, and knowingly placing or storing them somewhere else where you can access them.
4. Do I have to own the drug to be found guilty of possessing it?
When it comes to drug possession charges, who owns the drug is not relevant. You can still be charged with drug possession even if the drugs belong to someone else.
I’ve Been Charged With Drug Trafficking/Drug Possession. What Should I Do?
You need a criminal defence lawyer to protect your rights and prevent you from receiving a criminal record. A criminal record brings long-term consequences. Get experienced advice at every stage from DDSG Criminal Law. Call our team today.