The prosecution often gets a police “expert” to testify about whether seized drugs were “for the purpose of trafficking” in Ontario drug trials. These experts look at the quantity of the drugs and other indicators of drug trafficking, like the presence of cash or debt lists.

Defence counsel must eliminate, or strictly limit, the use of these police “experts”. This is important because the difference in penalties for “simple possession” versus “possession for the purpose of trafficking” can be huge.  For example, possession of Fentanyl/Hydromorphone for the purpose of trafficking often carries a penitentiary sentence. On the other hand, “simple possession” can result in no jail time.

Expert witnesses, like doctors or scientists, are supposed to help judges by providing unbiased opinions. Expert opinions are supposed to be based on a verifiable body of knowledge. By contrast, police “drug experts” often provide categorical evidence that a quantity of drugs “must” have been for the purpose of trafficking based on flexible factors. These police “experts” may be biased or lack knowledge of drug trafficking indicia. For example, the police expert may say that the drugs were possessed for trafficking because the accused had several hundred dollars on him.—But, that money could be from any number of other sources. In other cases, the police will say that a drug user would only use a limited amount of drugs per day, without basing the opinion on any scientific studies or real-world knowledge of drug consumption.

We have had success recently in limiting, or entirely excluding the testimony of police drug experts in Ottawa area drugs cases.  Two useful cases in this regard are R. v. Sekhon (2013, Supreme Court of Canada) and R. v. Singh (2014, Ontario Court of Appeal).

Sekhon and Singh suggest that police experts should be limited to providing general information about drug trafficking, such as pricing and quantities that are associated with trafficking.  Experts should not be allowed to offer case-specific opinions.

Ottawa Drug Lawyer

Charged with possession of drugs or trafficking in Ottawa? Contact Ottawa criminal lawyer Brett McGarry to discuss the best defence for your case at (613) 884-8576