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In earlier posts we have referenced the importance of building a defence to criminal charges if you face them. The reason for this is the impact the penalties tied to a conviction might have. A good example of this is the mandatory minimums that have been in place since 2012, regarding various crimes. The Supreme Court recently heard a case challenging the application of these laws in connection with a drug crime.
The case involves a man who, in 2013, was found guilty of drug trafficking. When he was arrested, he was in possession of methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine. At that time, despite ruling the mandatory minim prison sentence of one year was unconstitutional, under section 12 of the Charter, the man nonetheless received that sentence. Upon appeal, another six months was added to the sentence.
In the latest appeal to the nation’s high court, a lawyer from Pivot Legal Society asserted that the mandatory minimums make it impossible for judges to analyze the circumstances of the offender and the crime to reach a sentence. As a result, she indicated mothers are separated from their children and addicts do not receive the treatment they need. In addition, when the offender is indigenous, his or her background is not taken into consideration.
There has been some discussion by the government regarding how to address the application of mandatory minimum in the case of approximately 50 offences, including drug crimes. Whether that will come to fruition remains to be seen. In the meantime, it is vital that those facing drug charges take steps to defend themselves.