Charge Dismissed -- Possession of the Proceeds of Crime

For serious criminal charges, the prosecution proceeds by indictment. This means that the potential sentences that the accused person faces are much higher. But the possibility of a much lengthier prison sentence triggers an added protection for the accused: the right to elect the mode of his trial. The accused can elect to have his trial heard by a judge in the Ontario Court of Justice, or in the Superior Court of Justice. If he elects for a trial in the Superior Court of Justice, the accused can elect to have his trial heard by a judge and jury, or by a judge alone. Additionally, before the case even gets to the Superior Court of Justice for a trial, the accused can request to have a preliminary inquiry in the Ontario Court of Justice, forcing the Crown to show that there is enough evidence for the matter to even go to trial.

The threshold for the prosecution to advance its case beyond the preliminary hearing stage is low, requiring only that the Crown adduce some evidence upon which a properly instructed jury, acting reasonably, could (but not necessarily would) find the accused guilty. Still, a skilled defence lawyer can effectively utilize a preliminary inquiry to set up successful cross examinations of prosecution witnesses at trial, if not get the charge dismissed entirely at the conclusion of the hearing.

The client in this case faced a charge of possession of the proceeds of crime. This offence is established by evidence that some or all of an amount of money in the accused’s possession was derived from any criminal activity (whether it be robbery, theft, or the sale of illegal drugs). Tyler MacDonald successfully argued that his client’s possession of a significant amount of cash, in conjunction with the alleged possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, amounted to no evidence that money was derived from criminal activity because it was only speculation to suggest that the money was earned through the sale of drugs. The judge of the Ontario Court of Justice discharged the client of that count, meaning that he no longer faces the charge and does not need to wait until trial for the opportunity to preserve his innocence.