When Your Child has Been Arrested for a Drug Offence: A Guide for Parents

In Canada, youth courts have exclusive jurisdiction over any offence alleged to have been committed by a youth aged 12 to 17 years pursuant to the Youth Criminal Justice Act 2002   (“the Act”). The Act ensures that in the event of your child being arrested you will be notified. Notice to parents (or other relative or adult) when there is arrest or detention must be given by the officer in charge as soon as your child is detained, or as soon as possible, orally or in writing, advising the location of detention and the reason the arrest.

A drug offence arrest can be overwhelming, but should find out about the scenario, how arrival at the station went, the interview and questions, how searches were conducted and how to get legal help. A drug offence lawyer in Grand Prairie, Alberta can help with legal protection each step of the way in a criminal defence case.

Understanding the Scenario

The more information you find out, the better help that can be provided. Finding out who, what, where, when and how your son or daughter came to be charged is valuable information to share at your free legal consultation with us at Banks, Gubbins and Andrews Criminal Law.

Who had “Possession” of the Drugs?

In learning about who had possession, understand that who possesses a drug is not necessarily the person who owns it. Section 4(3) of the Criminal Code defines “possession” as having a controlled drug in your possession; or knowingly having a controlled drug in the custody of another person; or having a controlled drug any place for the use or benefit of yourself or of another person.

What Drugs Were Involved?

There are six basic categories of drugs that are attached as schedules to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the penalties vary depending on the type and amount of drugs found.

Where Did the Arrest Occur?

Where did the arrest take place? Was your child a driver or passenger in a car, at someone’s residence, at school, a business establishment or just walking down the street?

How Did the Arrest Occur?

Was there a warrant, a witness or a random stop by police?

Arrival at the Station

An arresting officer or the officer in charge must advise a person who is detained or arrested of his or her right to counsel immediately and must provide him or her an opportunity to obtain and be represented by counsel. If your child is detained the onus is on the Attorney General of Alberta of satisfying the youth justice court judge or the justice as to whether your child may be held in custody.

Interviewing and Questions

Anyone dealing with police must be respectful but does not have to answer police questions or give a statement. The right to remain silent holds, no matter how long questioning occurs; these rights are guaranteed pursuant to sections 7, 8, 9 10(a) and 10(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Searches

Searches can be made with or without a warrant.

Unless your child has been lawfully arrested, he or she does not have to allow police to search his or her person or possessions. A youth cannot be forced or pressured into consenting to be searched.

If your child is the driver or occupant of a car that has been stopped by the police at a roadside check, the officer can only lawfully search the area that is in plain view. The officer cannot enter a vehicle to search it, but may use a flashlight to look into the vehicle.  A lawful search of a vehicle can be conducted, however, if the officer has “reasonable and probable” grounds that an offence has been committed, in which case the officer can enter the vehicle to search it.

Drug Offence Defences in Practice

The Courts hold police officers conducting searches to a high standard.  In the case of R. v. T.W.L., 2016 ABPC 10 a car search was conducted by Edmonton police without reasonable or probable grounds. The youth was arrested on multiple charges of possession. The constable did not advise him of the reason for the traffic stop (as required by law) and did not advise him of his rights until after he was charged and handcuffed.  When the youth requested to speak with a lawyer, he was taken to the police station and further searched.

The defence lawyer filed an application under s. 24(2) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms asking for the exclusion of the seized items and any statements made by the youth. The lawyer argued successfully that the young person’s rights pursuant to sections 7, 8, 9 10(a) and 10(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms were infringed or denied. Judge G.B.N. Ho ruled that the youth’s rights had been breached under the Charter of Rights and the property seized by the police was excluded as evidence pursuant to  s. 24(2) of the Charter.

Get Help from Banks, Gubbins and Andrews Criminal Law in Grand Prairie

An experienced drug offence lawyer in Grand Prairie can help if your child has been charged with a drug related offence. Using the law, we will argue on behalf of your child and seek to demonstrate ways in which the Crown has not established the proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We will challenge all questionable assertions of the facts and any procedural errors. Let us help you navigate the complex legal system. Call us at 780-830-0322.