Discharge – drugs
A client of our firm was charged with four counts on different dates of possession of GHP and methamphetamines, thus committing the criminal offence specified in Section 4 (1) (3) a) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
The difficulties relating to this case and the defence’s strategy:
Our client was arrested twice on two different dates: August 14th and December 21st, 2014.
Our client had a criminal record for theft of under $5,000.00 from when he was just 19, and he was ordered to pay a fine of $500.00.
He also had several other convictions from when he was a teenager.
The defence’s strategy was to combine the two cases in court and to convince the Crown to amend the charges.
The Crown agreed to amend the prosecution method for the charges in order to reduce the objective seriousness of the charges.
The defence’s strategy was to request that a pre-sentence report be prepared to provide convincing evidence of rehabilitation. Our client therefore pleaded guilty on all counts.
The challenge of this case:
Our client worked full-time in the telemarketing field, and a criminal record for drugs would result in the loss of his job and termination.
The company our client worked for made the decision to overlook his criminal record for theft of under $5,000.00, given its low objective seriousness and that it was a youthful indiscretion.
Our job now was to prevent our client from getting a criminal record related to drugs.
The factual background:
The offences occurred in Québec in August and December 2014. Police officers arrived at a restaurant parking lot after a call regarding possibly intoxicated individuals. It was at that time that our client was arrested for possession of methamphetamines. Regarding the second event, our client was again intercepted by police on the street while he had methamphetamines and GHP on him.
The negotiation with the prosecutor before entering a guilty plea (plea bargaining):
We met with the Crown and provided several documents attesting that our client was employed by a communications company and that a criminal record for drugs would result in our client losing his job.
We provided our client’s employment contract, the corporate policy, and a letter from the employer.
After negotiation, the Crown prosecutor made a note in his file that, if the pre-sentence report was positive, he would agree to a conditional discharge.
During sentencing, a new Crown prosecutor was assigned to the case to replace the initial prosecutor due to administrative changes made to the DPCP on May 1st, 2016.
The new Crown prosecutor didn’t agree with granting a discharge given our client’s criminal record for theft and the prior convictions from his youth.
Despite that, there was still a note in the prosecution’s file, and the custom is to respect the writings of your colleagues on a case.
The new Crown prosecutor decided to follow the defence’s arguments and consented to a conditional discharge given our client’s favourable pre-sentence report.
Judgment of the court:
It should be noted that the court is not bound by any joint recommendation of the defence and the Crown if they consider the suggestion to be unreasonable and contrary to the principle of punishment laid down in the Criminal Code.
This was a very specific case, so we made the decision to provide convincing evidence in defence so that the court would accept our suggestion of a conditional discharge.
After entering our client’s profile and the numerous mitigating factors of the case into evidence, the judge agreed to grant our client a conditional discharge.
Our client avoided a criminal record for drugs and is currently pursuing a career in his field.