All Charges Stayed: Trafficking Cocaine and Possession of the Proceeds of Crime

The most confident eye witness can be wrong when they identity someone as the person who committed a crime. The history of our criminal courts is littered with wrongful convictions of men and women who were incorrectly identified by eye witnesses who were one hundred percent sure that they were right. An eye witness police officer is no different than any other witness, and must be held to the same standard as civilians. In this case the police officer was held to that standard by the client’s defence lawyer, Tyler MacDonald, and a wrongful conviction was avoided.

The client was charged with trafficking cocaine to an undercover police officer, and with possession of the proceeds of crime in that he was in possession of the police “buy money” that was used in the transaction. The undercover police officer accused the client of being the drug dealer who met him at an apartment and then sold crack to him. A few minutes after the transaction, the client was arrested while leaving the apartment building, and when he was searched the police found their marked “buy money” in one of his pockets. 

While it was a strong Crown case at first blush, that strength dissipated as Mr. MacDonald dissected the undercover police officer’s testimony, presented evidence showing that the client was dressed differently from the drug dealer, and called evidence of the lawful explanation for the client being found with the “buy money”. The final blow came when Mr. MacDonald called a witness who admitted to being the person who actually conducted the drug transaction with the undercover police officer – a witness who bore a striking resemblance to the client and was a venerated crack dealer.

The jury deliberated over two days, but the jurors were hopelessly divided as to whether the Crown had proven the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. This constituted a hung jury, and a mistrial was declared. The Crown then had a right to re-prosecute the client – to essentially have the trial all over again. After Mr. MacDonald corresponded with the Crown, setting out all the reasons that re-prosecution was futile and not in the public interest, the Crown opted not to re-prosecute and all charges were stayed.