All You Need to Know About Theft Charges in Canada

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According to the Canadian Criminal Code, theft is defined as taking or using anything that belongs to someone else to deprive them of that property, either temporarily or permanently. So if anyone is convicted of theft, there could be several consequences.

Let’s know a few details about it in the following section.

What Needs to be Proven for Conviction?

You might need to primarily understand some basic concepts regarding theft alongside contrasting and similar concepts such as larceny vs. theft. Before making any sudden decisions, it’s advisable to consult your lawyer or an expert for legal counsel to handle sensitive matters like this.

The Crown Prosecutor needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You attempted to move, moved something, or caused anything to move that belonged to someone else to prove the criminal accusations against you.
  • You attempted to steal the property of a certain value by moving it without the authorization of the legitimate owner, either temporarily or permanently.
  • You tried stealing property with a particular value.

You must not give up hope despite the presence of overwhelming proof in your theft allegations. Your defence lawyer may be able to assist you in determining the best defences to your criminal charges, allowing you to walk free without a criminal record.

Theft and Value of the Property

The Canadian Criminal Code divides theft into two categories—theft over $5,000 and theft under $5,000. While theft is a severe crime of Canadian law, theft charges for under $5,000 continue to be classified as a hybrid offence.

The Crown can then prosecute you either summarily or through an indictment. They will consider the criminal charges seriously in either scenario. Also, they will almost certainly seek jail time if they choose to prosecute you via indictment.

Under a $5,000 grant, however, a summary conviction might result in up to six months in prison.

Theft of $5,000 or more carries harsher penalties. It’s a plain indictable offence with a maximum sentence of ten years in jail if convicted.

Theft Charges in Canada and Common Defenses

If you’re facing a theft charge in Canada, it’s best to speak with a lawyer to review your disclosure and develop the best defences. 

Some common defences that your attorney can use against your theft allegations include:

Lack of Mental Intent (Mens Rea)

One of the most popular defences to a theft prosecution is proving that you lacked the necessary mental intent to perform the crime.

While you might have taken the object(s) in question, it’s also probable that you didn’t have any fraudulent intent to commit theft, such as strolling out of business without paying for something.

Colour of Right

The term “colour of right” refers to a situation in which you take something from someone under the mistaken belief that they had lent it to you. This could lead to the erroneous impression, understanding, or belief that you had the exclusive right to use the stolen item, which you did not. You may be able to avoid a conviction if your counsel can prove the things you believed were true.

Title to the Goods in Question

You can argue that you have a proprietary interest in the products in question because theft implies stealing something that doesn’t belong to you. However, even if you had the right of possession to the stolen things, you can still be charged with theft if you obtained them by deception.

For example, if your car was towed and impounded legally, you can’t justify stealing it from the impound lot before paying the requisite charge.

Concerns Regarding Identity

If the video evidence used to accuse you of theft is imprecise or of poor quality, your lawyer may be able to use identification issues as a defence. You can claim that the authorities misidentified you as a thief since you weren’t the person seen in the evidence.

To prove innocence, you must present corroborating evidence indicating that you were not present at the crime site at the time the theft occurred.

Closing Words

Based on the circumstances of the charge, you may have some defences available to you, as with many other criminal charges. Hence, it’s better to consult an expert criminal defence lawyer near you if you’ve been charged with theft in Canada.