Charges Dismissed: Possession of Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking, Obstruction of Justice

When the police raid someone’s home, the resulting chaos can endanger not only the physical safety of anyone one who happens to be in the home at the time, but also their liberty. Police routinely break into residences to search for drugs or weapons, and are likely to arrest and charge anyone who happens to be found near drugs or firearms at the moment that officers enter the room.

In this case the police raided one of the second floor apartments in a two floor residence. As tactical police officers moved through the residence with assault rifles, several people were seen amongst crack pipes, digital scales, and drugs. At least one was seen jumping out of a second story window to get away. As one officer brought his assault rifle to bear on the bathroom, his tactical light revealed the client standing in the darkened room. The client punched at the bathroom window, breaking it, and surrendered along with another person in the bathroom. Crack cocaine was found in the alleyway in the vicinity below the bathroom window, as was a small amount found in the bathroom on a shelf which was behind the client.

In defending the client at trial, Tyler MacDonald cross examined the tactical officer to confirm that he never actually saw anything in the client’s hands and never saw him throw anything out the window. Mr. MacDonald later submitted to the trial judge that the drugs found in the alleyway could have come from any one of the people who fled the residence during the police raid, or from anyone with access to one of the many windows into that alleyway while the raid was taking place. It was also obvious that the client could not have seen the drugs on the shelf if the lights in the bathroom were off. If he did not know they were there then he could not have possessed them. Mr. MacDonald applied to have the charges dismissed midway through trial on the basis the Crown had presented no evidence that the client possessed any of the drugs.

The trial judge agreed with Mr. MacDonald’s assessment of the evidence, and all charges were dismissed against the client before he even needed to decide whether or not to testify in his own defence.