Mid-afternoon in the summer, a police officer stopped a suspicious vehicle with two passengers and a dog inside. The passengers were identified as Ms. S and Ms. G and the vehicle was registered as stolen. Mr. G was driving at the time and Ms. S was in the passenger seat. The dog and two bags were in the back seat.
Because the vehicle was registered as stolen the officer removed Ms. S and Mr. G from the car in order to search it, and in doing so discovered some marijuana, a bag of cocaine, and tools for measuring and packaging. While the office had no way of identifying who the substances or tools belonged to, he placed both Ms. S and Mr. G under arrest for multiple counts of possession with intent to traffic and possession of the proceeds of crime.
Since Ms. S was on probation at the time, she also received a charge for breach of probation.
Ms. S. engaged her Charter 10(b) right to retain a lawyer and specifically sought out Philip Stiles as her counsel.
Ms. S was in a difficult position. Certain incidents in her past left her particularly at risk if she faced a criminal conviction. During Ms. S’ free 30-minute consultation, Phil established that having the charges withdrawn would be the best outcome. If successful the charges would be removed from Ms. S’ records after a month, she would face no penalty, and she would avoid the costs and stresses of a trial.
The Crown has to meet a very high burden to convict someone; proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defence can create any reasonable doubt, the court cannot convict the accused. When Phil Stiles received disclosure (a package of all the evidence the Crown has, which they are obligated to provide the defence) he found and issue in the case that would allow him to create that reasonable doubt.
The Crown would have a difficult time establishing that Ms. S “possessed” the substances or proceeds of crime. The substance and proceeds were both in bags in the car, and both Ms. S and Mr. G were in the car at the same time. The Crown would need to prove that Ms. S. was the one in possession of the bags while in the car, which would be a major challenge.
The Crown agreed to withdraw the charges against Ms. S if Mr. G was willing to take responsibility. If the bags were tied to him through an admission there would be nothing to use in the trial against Ms. S. When Mr. G agreed the Crown withdrew the charges and Ms. S was free to put the difficult proceeding behind her.