Theft & Shoplifting Lawyer In Toronto
Most people are familiar with the term “shoplifting”, for example, stealing from a store. This, of course, is a type of theft although it is often considered a minor criminal offence. Even minor offences though, can become major impediments to employment and travel when they result in criminal records. “Thefts” can, of course, be much more significant and as the type of theft increases, so does the penalty.
What follows is a brief summary of the law. While it is not, and should not be relied upon as legal advice, it may assist you with some of the questions you might have. As always, consult with a criminal lawyer should you need criminal advice.
Theft related offences are all enumerated in the Criminal Code of Canada: http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/stat/rsc-1985-c-c-46/latest/rsc-1985-c-c-46.html. The offence of “theft” is reproduced below.
322 (1) Every one commits theft who fraudulently and without colour of right takes, or fraudulently and without colour of right converts to his use or to the use of another person, anything, whether animate or inanimate, with intent
(a) To deprive, temporarily or absolutely, the owner of it, or a person who has a special property or interest in it, of the thing or of his property or interest in it;
(b) To pledge it or deposit it as security;
(c) To part with it under a condition with respect to its return that the person who parts with it may be unable to perform; or
(d) To deal with it in such a manner that it cannot be restored in the condition in which it was at the time it was taken or converted
322(2) A person commits theft when, with the intent to steal anything, he moves it or causes it to move or to be moved, or begins to cause it to become movable.
334 Except where otherwise provided by law, every one who commits theft
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, where the property stolen is a testamentary instrument of the value of what is stolen exceeds five thousand dollars; or
(b) is guilty
(i) of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or
(ii) of an offence punishable on summary conviction,
where the value of what is stolen does not exceed five thousand dollars.
Essentially, to prove someone guilty of Theft, the Crown must prove that: (a) the defendant took/converted property that belonged to another, (b) that the defendant had no legal right to the property, (c) that the defendant took the property fraudulently and without colour of right, and (d) when the defendant took/converted the property, it was done with the intent to deprive the complainant of the property.
Possession of Property Obtained By Crime
Often people charged with Theft are also charged with Possession of Property Obtained by Crime.
354 (1) Every one commits an offence who has in his possession any property or thing or any proceeds of any property or thing knowing that all or part of the property or thing or the proceeds was obtained by or derived directly or indirectly from
(a) the commission in Canada of an offence punishable by indictment; or
(b) an act or omission anywhere that, if it had occurred in Canada, would have constituted an offence punishable by indictment
Penalty: The maximum penalty, if the subject matter is a testamtentary instrument or the value of the subject-matter is over $5000 is a term of imprisonment not exceeding ten years.
To prove therefore that someone guilty of Possession of Property Obtained by Crime, the Crown must prove that: (a) the defendant was in possession of property, (b) the property was obtained by crime, and (c) the defendant knew that the property had been obtained by crime. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, a person has anything in possession when he has it in his personal possession or knowingly:
(a) has it in the actual possession or custody of another person, or
(b) has it in any place, whether or not that place belongs to or is occupied by him, for the use or benefit of himself or another person.
Further, where one of two or more persons, with the knowledge and consent of the rest, has anything in his custody or possession, it shall be deemed to be in the custody and possession of each and all of them.
There are numerous ways to defend against these charges and I have successfully defended people against them numerous times – please refer to my Recent Successes page. Again, the foregoing is only a summary. It is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. For a free consultation to discuss your case, please call me at 416-658-5855.