All You Need To Know About Theft Charges In Canada And Their Common Defences

March 18, 2021

All You Need To Know About Theft Charges In Canada And Their Common Defences

Under the Canadian Criminal Code, theft refers to taking or using something that belongs to somebody else to deprive them of that particular property either temporarily or permanently. If you’re charged with theft charges in Canada, it’s best to contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer near you.

Things To Prove For Successful Conviction

To prove the criminal charges against you, the Crown Prosecutor must prove the following vital things beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You attempted to move, caused something to move, or moved something that belonged to somebody else
  • You moved an item intending to steal it either temporarily or permanently without the rightful owner’s consent
  • You tried to steal the property of a specific value

Even in the presence of substantial evidence regarding your theft charges, you must not lose hope. There could be a chance that your criminal defence attorney may be able to help you find the best defences against your criminal charges and help you walk free without facing a criminal record.

Theft Under $5,000 Vs. Theft Over $5,000

As per the Canadian Criminal Code, there are two major theft charges – theft under $5,000 and theft over $5,000. While theft is treated as a severe crime in Canadian Criminal Law, theft under $5,000 is considered a hybrid offence.

The Crown can choose to prosecute you summarily or via indictment. In either case, the Crown will treat your criminal charges seriously. They will likely be seeking jail time if they choose to prosecute you by indictment. On the other hand, for a summary conviction, you could still face up to six months in prison in the case of theft under $5,000.

Theft over $5,000 comes with more severe penalties. It’s a straight indictable offence, in which you can face up to ten years in prison in case of a successful conviction.

Common Defences To Theft Charges In Canada

When facing a theft charge in Canada, it’s best to consult with your lawyer to review your disclosure and develop the best possible defences thoroughly. Some common defences that might be available to your attorney against your theft charges can include:

Lack Of Mental Intent (Mens Rea)

One of the common defences to a theft charge is demonstrating that you didn’t have the required mental intention to commit the offence. While you may have taken the items in question, it’s also possible that you didn’t have any fraudulent purpose required to be guilty of theft, like walking out of a store accidentally with an item without paying for it.

Colour Of Right

Colour of right refers to an event where you took something from someone believing they lent it to you. This might result in a mistaken belief or understanding that you had the proprietary right to using the stolen article, which you did not have in reality. If your attorney can prove the facts you believed to be true as true, you could avoid the conviction.

Having Title To The Goods Under Consideration

As theft is stealing something that doesn’t belong to you, you can argue that you had a proprietary interest in the goods in question. However, despite having possession rights to the stolen goods, you could still be charged with a theft offence if you took the item through fraudulent means.

For instance, if your automobile was legally towed and impounded, you cannot justify stealing your vehicle from an impound lot without paying the required fee.

Identity Concerns

If the video evidence, based on which you’re charged with theft, is unclear or low quality, your lawyer can raise identity concerns as your defence. You can argue that you’re not the person seen in the evidence and that the authorities mistakenly identified you as a thief.

However, to prove your innocence, you need to come with corroborative evidence suggesting that you were somewhere else and not at the crime scene when the theft occurred.

Slaferek Callihoo is a criminal defence law firm based in Edmonton, Alberta. We help our customers defend different criminal cases, including theft and fraud charges in Edmonton and its surrounding areas. Visit our website to learn about our legal services or contact us for legal consultation.

Preserve your rights, and
contact Darin H. Slaferek

Providing a dedicated focus on criminal law, practicing ethical, effective, and efficient solutions to serve the best interests of our clients.

780-906-9228

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