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Drug Offences

Arrest and charge for a drug offence in Canada is under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

Depending on the severity of the drug charge there is not only the risk of a criminal record negatively impacting your reputation, international travel, employment opportunities and more— but also the risk of incarceration, heavy fines and civil forfeitures (seizing of property). Certain drug offences such as trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, drug production and importation can carry maximum penalties of life imprisonment.

Bolton Law has an advantage of a long history of successfully defending drug charges. Michael Bolton began his career as a drug lawyer, and the defence of drug cases has been a major part of his practice for over 40 years. He has handled all types of drug cases, from minor drug offences, including possession, to the most serious conspiracy cases. Michael also has been counsel on a number of landmark decisions in major drug cases.

Michael’s exceptional understanding of the law can be found in his book, Defending Drug Cases, an expert guide for defence lawyers defending cases under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Michael Bolton has acted as counsel in many leading drug cases with search warrants, wiretaps, conspiracy, cross-border investigations; and Charter of Rights issues. With Bolton Law’s experience and sophisticated understanding of the law on your side, you can feel confident that you will have the best defence possible for your drug charge and that that we will work towards the best outcome for your case.

Civil Forfeiture

Civil forfeiture actions are a common feature of criminal investigations. Our lawyers are frequently engaged to defend against civil forfeitures actions where monies, vehicles and/or properties have been seized or restrained according to forfeiture claims arising out of criminal investigations.

You will benefit from the important criminal defence perspective that we bring to drug offence cases involving civil forfeiture, which may be civil in appearance, but are criminal in nature.



R. v. Mastronardi, 2016 BCSC 1289

presumptive ceiling – Charter – s. 11(b) delay - Jordan
Mr. Mastronardi was charged with unlawful possession and production of marijuana and theft of electricity. There was a delay of five years and eight months in bringing Mr. Mastronardi to trial. Justice Kent stated that such a lengthy delay could not be justified for any reason and was a violation of s. 11(b) right to be tried within a reasonable time under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Justice Kent held such delay was too long for a matter of this kind. The court entered a stay of proceedings.


USA v. Lorenz, 2007 BCCA 342 – Madam Justice Newbury

extradition – co-conspirators – conspiracy to possess and to traffic heroin
Mr. Lorenz drove the co-conspirators to locations where the heroin was transferred using another vehicle but the extradition judge concluded that actions and declarations of co-conspirators could not be used as evidence against Mr. Lorenz that he was involved in the conspiracy in the absence of proof of his probable membership in the conspiracy. Mr. Lorenz was discharged and not surrendered for extradition. Madam Justice Newbury dismissed the appeal by the Attorney General of Canada against Mr. Lorenz’ discharge.


USA v. A., 2001 BCSC 781 – Justice S.R. Romilly

conspiracy – extradition – heroin
Mr. A. and was sought for extradition by the United States to stand trial for conspiracy to distribute heroin and conspiracy to violate the American Arms Export Control Act and the Iranian Embargo Act. Justice S. R. Romilly agreed that the evidence did not reveal an agreement to exchange heroin for Klystron tubes as alleged by the USA. A. was discharged on both counts and was not committed for extradition.


R. v. Saunders, 1990 1 SCR 1020 – McLaughlin CJC

conspiracy to import heroin – fundamental principle that charge must be proved
The accused was charged with conspiracy to import heroin. The Crown evidence revealed that a courier imported cocaine. The judge told the jury that they could convict the accused if they were satisfied that the accused had conspired to import any drug. The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the Crown’s appeal from BC Court of Appeal. It is a fundamental principle of the criminal law that the offence specified in the indictment must be proved. The accused cannot be convicted if a narcotic other than the one specified, is proven.

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