I have extensive expertise in defending drug charges.
I am extremely knowledgeable about the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, all potential defences, case law, search and seizure law, and challenges under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I am a former part-time drug prosecutor, and I have excellent results in defending drug charges. Choosing a strong lawyer with the right experience and skills is also important because a conviction for possession of any controlled substance may make it impossible for you to cross the border into the United States.
Many people face criminal charges because they are living with addictions. It may be obvious that the charges relate to an addiction, such as possession of drugs, or trafficking at the street level. But a person suffering from an addiction may also steal, commit fraud or break into businesses or cars in a desperate attempt to support their addiction.
In Hamilton, the local practice is for judges to impose a jail sentence, even for a first conviction for possessing a hard drug such as cocaine or OxyContin.
First and foremost, my role is to strongly defend my client’s charges, to protect their rights, to avoid a criminal record, and to do everything possible to avoid jail and other negative consequences.
However, if my client wishes, I am also able to assist him or her in getting help for their underlying addiction. And getting treatment for the addiction can have a great impact on the outcome in court.
I am very knowledgable about addictions, and about addiction treatment services in the community. I am able to advise my clients about how to access the treatment they need.
I am a former member of the Board of Directors of Wayside House residential addiction treatment program for men, and I was the Chair of the SURCH (Court Drug Treatment Program) and was past chair of the Drug Treatment Court Committee in Hamilton.
SURCH (SUBSTANCE USE RELATED CRIME IN HAMILTON)
After many years of watching the revolving door of men and women living with addictions committing crimes to support their addictions, going to jail but not getting any treatment, getting released and repeating the same cycle, I felt compelled to work on changing the system to give people the option to get treatment for their addictions as an alternative to going to jail.
As a result I became involved in a collaborative project involving addiction treatment providers, defence counsel, crown attorney, and police to help get people facing (non-violent) drug related charges the help they need instead of a jail sentence, and sometimes even instead of a criminal record. I represent the interests of defence lawyers on the committee, and I chaired the committee that oversees the program.
DRUG TREATMENT COURT
As part of my work as Chair of the SURCH committee I worked with the same group of justice partners, and an even broader group of treatment providers, to design and implement a Drug Treatment Court in Hamilton.
Drug Treatment Court began in Hamilton on January 1, 2014.
Drug Treatment Court is a very intensive and comprehensive program, headed by a Judge, that works with qualified clients who are facing even serious (non-violent) drug related charges. Clients are given significant supports and responsibilities to help them overcome their addictions. Successful clients have the additional incentive of avoiding a lengthy jail sentence.
The new amendments to the Criminal Code make successful completion of an approved Drug Treatment Court the only exception to the new lengthy mandatory minimum jail sentences.