As per the Canadian Criminal Code, owning an asset or proceeds of that asset while knowing that it was obtained directly or indirectly through an indictable offence results in a possession of a stolen property criminal charge. In Canada, possession of stolen assets is considered an increasingly severe felony which one can get charged for individually or along with other crimes related to theft or fraud. The best line of defence is to consult with a dedicated criminal defence lawyer.
Here, we will discuss some of the essential things you should know about possession of stolen property charges:
Things To Prove For A Successful Conviction
To convict you of this charge, the Crown Prosecutor will need to prove that:
- You were indeed keeping stolen property
- The asset you had access to was obtained through a crime
- You knew that you were holding an item that was obtained through a crime
To prove you guilty of a possession of stolen property charge, the Crown doesn’t need to establish that it was you indeed who stole the asset, nor do they need to prove that you were in immediate possession of that property.
Circumstances Under Which You Can Be Charged With Possession Of A Stolen Item
The following are some of the plausible circumstances under which the police can charge you with a possession of stolen property offence:
Having Knowledge About Or Having Control Over a Stolen Item
Under Canadian Criminal Law, law enforcement authorities can consider you in possession of a stolen asset on suspicion that you had prior knowledge about or had adequate control over that item. For instance, you can be charged with this criminal offence when you deliberately keep a stolen item at a place that wasn’t within your direct reach, but you could still access or control it.
Keeping The Item In Someone Else’s Custody But Still Having Control Over It
The police can also consider you in possession of a stolen item on a suspicion that you kept that item in someone else’s custody and retained control over its use in the long run. This means that as long as you exercise your authority over a stolen asset for your benefit or the advantage of someone else, the law can and will consider you in possession of stolen property.
Voluntarily Holding An Item For Someone Else Who Stole It
Law enforcement authorities can still find you guilty of this criminal charge if they find you having access to a property for someone else who got it from another person through a crime. While you might think that you could argue in court that you had access to an item that was stolen; according to law, you cannot avoid the charge based on the concept of wilful blindness.
This shows that you cannot claim that you did not know that the property was stolen because it seems apparent that you either knew or ought to have a prior understanding that you indeed possessed a stolen asset.
Failing To Suspect That The Property Might Have Been Stolen
The court can still find you guilty of the charge if the Crown Prosecutor can prove that you wilfully remained blind to the fact that you were keeping hold of a stolen asset. They could argue that you had the chance to suspect the property’s origin under the circumstances, but you didn’t make any further inquiries about where the item came from.
Penalties For Possession Of A Stolen Charge
As a result of a successful conviction, the punishment you will face will depend on certain factors:
Property Over $5000.00 Or Under $5000.00
One of the most significant elements that could decide your punishment for possessing a stolen item is whether the court has convicted you of possession of stolen property over $5000.00 or under $5000.00.
In the case of an offence involving property worth $5000.00, you will get charged with a hybrid crime, resulting in two-years of jail time if the Crown proceeds via indictment. However, if the Crown moves forward via summary conviction; you can still face six months in jail due to a successful conviction.
In the case of an offence involving property over $5000.00, the court will find you guilty of an indictable crime upon successful conviction, and you will have to face a ten-year jail sentence.
Using Weapon(s) During An Offence
Suppose you were using a weapon or were violent during an offence. In that case, the court might impose a weapon prohibition on you due to ancillary orders, prohibiting you from keeping a firearm for a time period set by the court of law.
If you are caught violating the terms of your ancillary order, you can also be charged with another criminal offence. It’s best to contact your criminal defence attorney as soon as possible when facing possession of stolen property charges for a successful defence.
About Slaferek Callihoo
Slaferek Callihoo is a criminal defence law company based in Edmonton, Alberta. We help our clients defend different criminal cases, including possession of stolen property charges in Edmonton and its surrounding areas. Visit our website for more information or contact us for expert legal guidance.