If you have been charged with any criminal offence, you should contact a criminal defence lawyer immediately, fighting charges on your own is very risky, ensure your rights are protected by a professional.
Despite the significant health risks, smoking tobacco remains perfectly legal for adults in Canada. Unlike drugs, the trafficking of which is strictly illegal, tobacco sales, generally are permitted by law. However, there are some newly added as of 2014 provisions to the Criminal Code which make it a crime to purchase contraband tobacco.
Section 121.1 of the Criminal Code lists the crime associated with contraband tobacco as follows:
121.1 (1) No person shall sell, offer for sale, transport,deliver, distribute or have in their possession for the purposeof sale a tobacco product, or raw leaf tobacco that isnot packaged, unless it is stamped. The terms tobaccoproduct, raw leaf tobacco, packaged and stampedhave the same meanings as in section 2 of the Excise Act,2001.
It should be noted that on Aboriginal Reserves, unmarked tobacco is frequently sold. This tobacco is only supposed to be purchased by other Aboriginal people to keep its lower tax status. Buying tax exempt tobacco for a non-Aboriginal person could be caught by this section of the Code.
The penalties for this offence differ if it is not a first offence. For a first offence pursued on summary conviction the maximum penalty is 6 months imprisonment. For a first offence proceeded by on indictment, this crime carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment, with no minimum. For a second offence (if there were 10,000 cigarettes and/or 10kg of other tobacco) there is a minimum penalty of 90 days imprisonment, for a third offence a minimum of 180 days imprisonmentand for a 4th offence 2 years less a day as a minimum, all with a maximum of 5 years imprisonment.
While appearing to be an unduly harsh sentence for purchasing a legal product, parliament rationalized their decision to pass this section by citing contraband tobacco as a revenue source for organized crime. Unfortunately, the government did not account for the revenue flow into cash-strapped aboriginal communities by sale of tobacco products.
If you have been charged with any crime, whether or not you are facing jail time, there are potential serious results. A criminal record can restrict your ability to travel, find work or apply for immigration status. Every person charged with a crime should seek legal advice from a criminal lawyer. Mehdi Au LLP has criminal lawyers on staff to assist you. We accept Legal Aid Certificates.
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