Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Warning: Actual Legal Content

Don't worry, it's brief. Also, every use of the word 'brief' doesn't have to be a pun. How can you have an offence of "attempt to possess [narcotic] for the purpose of trafficking"?

Such a charge, on its face, seems either
(a) an attempt to charge someone with trafficking who ought to be charged with possession, because trafficking is indictable and the sentences are more severe; or
(b) redundant with a charge of Possession for the Purpose.

A circumstance has arisen, however, where it makes some sense: an individual (let's call him Smartest Cop Ever) comes into possession of a quantity of controlled substance (A Veritable Blizzard) and conceals it. S.C.E. has no apparent connection to the drug trade and no means of marketing or profiting from this windfall -- the Breaking Bad problem. As such, he has none of the common indicia of drug trafficking: scales, gobs of cash, debt lists, association with hip-hop stars. However, the sheer quantity of product, its location when eventually discovered, and S.C.E.'s behaviour make it unlikely that he kept the drugs for his own personal use.

UPDATE | There was a crucial fact missing from this sequence of events that distinguishes possession for the purpose of trafficking from attempted possession for the purpose: the police had substituted a decoy for the cocaine and as such the accused never possessed it in an amount sufficient to justify an inference of intent to traffic. Unbeknownst to him, the accused was in possession of a small amount of cocaine, and a large amount of flour with a tracking device buried inside.
*He's also charged with breach of trust by public officer, Criminal Code s. 122.


Ryan Marr said...

I guess my first impression was someone who got busted trying to buy like pounds of drugs. BUt they were caught in the act of trying to buy the drugs. Who in their right mind buys pounds of drugs not to traffic?

Case closed!

just call me detective Columbo.

wait there's one more thing...

Will said...

You're right on both counts:

1) Normally the charge is laid when someone is in the process of obtaining a quantity of drugs, and the police intervene and arrest, such that the drugs never actually come into the possession of the accused. The opposite set of circumstances is present here -- aside from the large quantity of controlled substance found, there are no indicia of intent to traffic. Which is why ...

2) "Who in their right mind buys pounds of drugs not to traffic" is exactly what the federal Crown will have to ask the court.