The proliferation of illicit drugs in our community makes the Ontario Court of Appeal decision in R. v. Pammett timely. This decision was released in January 2015.
The Court had to determine the scope of forfeiture that should be ordered on account of the Crown’s application seeking forfeiture of offence related property.
The Crown need only prove on a balance of probabilities that property is “offence related”. Put another way, the property must be used in execution of the crime. The forfeiture must be proportional to the offence. Therein lies the difficulty in drug trafficking cases where a home is used to either store or sell drugs. Should the whole home be subject to forfeiture, or just a portion thereof? In Pammett, the accused was engaged in a large-scale enterprise of drug trafficking. Undercover officers made numerous purchases at the dwelling owned by Pammett and/or his family. Family members were also involved in missing with drug purchases, or delivered drugs from the house to the purchaser at another location. Purchasers frequented the home in order to make a ‘buy’.
Citing a trilogy of Supreme Court cases, the Court of Appeal observed that the nature, scope and degree of sophistication of the activity must all be assessed in determining the degree of forfeiture, together with the role the accused played in the activity.