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jail cellBeginning today, our streets have apparently become, “a little safer”, according to our Federal Government.

The Safe Streets & Communities Act, which came into force today, includes provisions that would establish mandatory minimum penalties for serious drug offences when they are carried out for organized crime purposes, or if they involve targeting youth, in addition to a variety of other situations that seemingly have nothing to do with either organized crime or protecting youth.

Serious drug offences include production; trafficking; possession for the purpose of trafficking; importing and exporting; and possession for the purpose of exporting drugs listed in Schedule I, such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, and in Schedule II, such as marijuana.

Generally, mandatory minimum penalties for drug offences apply where there exists an aggravating factor including any of the following circumstances:

  • for the benefit of organized crime;
  • involving use or threat of violence;
  • involving use or threat of use of weapons;
  • by someone who has been previously convicted (in the past 10 years) of a serious drug offence;
  • in a prison;
  • by abusing a position of authority or access to restricted areas;
  • in or near a school, in or near an area normally frequented by youth or in the presence of youth;
  • through involving a youth in the commission of the offence; and
  • in relation to a youth (e.g. selling to a youth).

It is important to note that some drug offences such as producing or importing a schedule 1 substance will trigger mandatory minimum penalties regardless of whether or not an aggravating factor is present. Producing more than 5 plants of marijuana will also trigger the minimum sentences even in the absence of aggravating factors.

Follow this link to read more about how mandatory minimum sentences will adversely affect Canadians charged with drug crimes.

Listed below are two charts which detail how the new legislation will be applied.

APPENDIX A

APPENDIX B

¹ Aggravating Factors APPENDIX A

The aggravating factors include offences committed:

  • for the benefit of organized crime;
  • involving use or threat of violence;
  • involved use or threat of use of weapons;
  • by someone who was previously convicted of a designated drug offence or had served a term of imprisonment for a designated substance offence in the previous 10 years; and,
  • through the abuse of authority or position or by abusing access to restricted area to commit the offence of importation/exportation and possession to export.

² Aggravating Factors APPENDIX B

The aggravating factors include offences committed:

  • in a prison;
  • in or near a school, in or near an area normally frequented by youth or in the presence of youth;
  • in concert with a youth; and
  • in relation to a youth (e.g. selling to a youth).

³ Health and Safety Factors

  • the accused used real property that belongs to a third-party to commit the offence;
  • the production constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard to children who were in the location where the offence was committed or in the immediate area;
  • the production constituted a potential public safety hazard in a residential area; and
  • the accused placed or set a trap.
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