If you've been charged with marijuana possession, it may have come as a shock to realize that Canadian courts can and do prosecute this crime. You've been under the impression that law enforcement officials generally look the other way when it comes to casual marijuana use, but now you're in trouble. It's important to have a skilled criminal defence lawyer on your side because a judge will not necessarily be lenient. A lawyer may help you avoid jail time.

Minimum Penalties

Fortunately, penalties for holding a small amount of marijuana are not nearly as severe as those for selling, intent to sell and unlicensed production. Unlike those offenses, there is no minimum jail sentence for possession of a small amount of the drug. Nevertheless, judges have the discretion to impose a sentence as harsh as six months in jail. 

Results a Defence Lawyer Strives For

The best result would be to have the charges dropped by the prosecution. Otherwise, you still will have a court date in front of a judge. The next-most favorable result would be to have the case dismissed by the judge. Your lawyer may discover that law enforcement officers made technical errors during the arrest, for example, and will present that evidence at the start of your court appearance.

If the case is not dismissed, your lawyer will impress upon the judge your previous clean record and your full cooperation during this legal process. If the evidence is strong that you possessed marijuana for recreational use, you may be convicted, but your lawyer may be able to obtain a penalty of probation or a short term of house arrest.

In the sentence of house arrest, you would either be required to stay at home with an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, or you would stay at home except during the hours you're allowed to be at your job. 

Is Medical Use a Defence?

Your lawyer can't use medical use of marijuana in your defence if you don't have a permit. If you had a permit, you would not have been charged in the first place.

However, your lawyer might convince a judge to be lenient if you actually were using the substance because of a medical problem such as nausea due to an illness or because of disease treatment, or chronic pain because of a physical condition. Of course, you will need to substantiate that you obtained the drug for this reason rather than for recreational purposes.

Concluding Thoughts

Don't hesitate to contact a criminal defence lawyer for further information. You should be able to have a free consultation. If you decide this legal professional is a good fit for your situation, you then can take the important step of hiring the lawyer, who will begin working to maintain your freedom.