Property Related Offences

Property Related Offences

Property offences are a common type of crime and form the basis of many criminal charges. If you have been charged with a property offence, there are certain basics you should know.

Under the Criminal Code, property offences cover a broad array of charges, including:

  • Theft Under $5,000.
  • Theft Over $5,000.
  • Mischief.
  • Fraud Under $5,000.
  • Fraud Over $5,000.
  • Possession of Stolen Property Under $5,000.
  • Possession of Stolen Property Over $5,000.
  • Possession of a Vehicle Unauthorized.
  • Break and Enter.
  • Forgery.
  • Robbery.
  • Arson.

If you have been charged with one of these offences, there are certain basics you should know.

Many people will be familiar with at least some of the above property offences that are listed in the Criminal Code. Property offences involve one person taking the property of another, with the intent of depriving the victim from using and enjoying the property. The person taking the property must have no legal claim or right to it. The taking of property can be by various means, such as using direct or indirect threats, or the use of force. 

Property offences are usually sub-categorized, based on whether the property has been stolen, damaged, or destroyed. They are also classified by whether money was misappropriated.

This means that when it comes to investigating and prosecuting these offences, there will be differences in the methodology and approach used by police and the crown. For example, if you are facing a charge of shoplifting, the evidence against you may come mainly from a privately hired retail store security guard who claims to have observed your alleged theft.

On the other hand, for more serious and complex offences like fraud, police may gather evidence against you through interviews with the complainant, and by obtaining and examining financial documentation, bank records, or your internet activity.

When laying a charge, a crown may also combine property-related offences with other crimes. For example, if you have broken into a retail store, assaulted the security guard who was on night duty, and stolen some merchandise, then upon arrest you may be charged with not just robbery, but also with assault and possession of tools that enabled you to commit the break-and-enter.

Each property-related crime comes with a specific definition in the Criminal Code. In order to secure a conviction, the crown must establish each of the elements of that particular offence beyond a reasonable doubt. There are also certain defences which may exonerate you in the right circumstances. Whether the offence is minor or more serious, a conviction is never guaranteed for the crown.

My job as your criminal defence lawyer is to thoroughly scrutinize each and every part of the crown’s case to afford you the best possible outcome. 

Below is further information about some of the more common property-related charges that I see.

Theft

A theft charge is one of the most common types of charges that I see. It is typically divided between one of two offences, theft under $5000 and theft over $5000. This amount refers to the dollar value of the item alleged to be stolen. 

The crown must prove that you fraudulently took or converted for your use or the use of another person anything with intent 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.
  • Pledge it or deposit it as security.
  • Part with it under a condition with respect to its return that the person who parts with it may be unable to perform.
  • 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.

In many cases, there will be available defences to you. For example, if the property was actually your property or if you have a property interest in it. You might also be able to prove that you did not have the requisite intent for the theft of the property. 

Many theft cases come down to the court’s assessment of your credibility versus that of the complainant who claims that you committed the theft. In these cases, I often use my expertise in assessing and reviewing the evidence against you to mount an effect defence and cross-examination against the parties charging you. 

Mischief

Mischief charges are also very common to see in my practice. These types of charges usually involve some sort of property damage. Generally, mischief is defined by a person who willfully:

  • Destroys or damages property.
  • Renders property dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective.
  • Obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property.
  • Obstructs, interrupts or interferes with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property.

Mischief charges are often laid in haste, without a proper assessment done of the damage to the property or the context of the entire situation. With these types of charges, I often find an effective negotiation with a crown prosecutor can result in a positive outcome for my clients, often avoiding criminal records. 

Fraud

Fraud can be classified as a serious property offence. It is generally broken down into two charges, fraud under $5000 and fraud over $5000. It is defined as a person who, by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means defrauds the public or any person, whether ascertained or not, of any property, money or valuable security or any service.

Because of the serious penalties a person might face in relation to fraud, as well as the potentially long-term impacts on employment, it is important if you’re facing a fraud charge to retain the services of an experienced criminal lawyer. 

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be facing penitentiary penalties if convicted of a fraud charge. There are also certain aggravating circumstances that can increase your sentence. For example, if you are in a position of trust or if there are a large number of victims.

There may be possible defences available to you in terms of the standard of proof that the crown must meet. Oftentimes, the police will conduct large-scale investigations with these types of charges. There may be issues with the way the police went about obtaining information regarding the investigation, or there may be challenges I can mount in regard to your rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Give me a call to talk about your charge.

Possession of Stolen Property

Possession of stolen property is essentially defined as when a person has in his or her possession any property or any proceeds of any property knowing that all or part of it was obtained either directly or indirectly from an indictable offence.

There may several defences available for you if you are charged with this offence. For example, the crown will have to prove that you actually had possession of the property. Depending on your circumstance, this might be an area that we can challenge. Additionally, the crown also has to prove that you knew the property was obtained from crime. 

In many circumstances, the police lay this charge when there is a perfectly good explanation for why you might have the property in your possession – and for a purpose that was not criminal. In my role as your defence lawyer, I will vigorously defend you and ensure you receive the best possible outcome. Oftentimes my efforts result in a withdrawal of charges or a finding of not guilty.

Break and Enter

If you are charged with break and enter, you are facing serious consequences if convicted. Under the Criminal Code, a break and enter offence is a strictly indictable offence. This generally means that you will face harsher penalties if convicted. 

The most common type of break and enter offence is established when a person breaks and enters a place and commits, or intends to commit, an indictable offence. Break and enter also includes where you break out of a place after committing an indictable offence, or after entering the place with the intent to commit an indictable offence. 

The crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you actually broke into a place, and that you were intending to actually commit an indictable offence. Issues may arise for the crown such as identify – whether or not it was you who broke into the place, or in proving whether or not there was any evidence of planning to commit an indictable offence.

My role as your defence lawyer is to draw attention to the court of any and all reasonable doubt that may arise. Depending on the facts of your scenario, there may be a number of possible defences that I can argue to resolve or win your case. 

Robbery

Robbery is one of the most serious property related charges, and one of the most serious charges you can face in general. Like break and enter, it is a strictly indictable offence, meaning you will be facing harsher penalties if convicted. 

Robbery is defined in the Criminal Code as any person who:

  • Steals, and for the purpose of extorting whatever is stolen or to prevent or overcome resistance to the stealing, uses violence or threats of violence to a person or property.
  • Steals from any person and, at the time he steals or immediately before or immediately thereafter, wounds, beats, strikes or uses any personal violence to that person.
  • Assaults any person with intent to steal from him.
  • Steals from any person while armed with an offensive weapon or imitation thereof.

The maximum sentence for a robbery charge is to imprisonment for life. Because of this, certain sentences will not be available to you if convicted, such a conditional sentence order or a conditional discharge. These are sentences that avoid entering a jail. 

In addition, minimum penalties for robbery charges are instituted where a firearm is used. For example, in cases where a robbery is committed with a firearm, the minimum sentence is 4 years imprisonment. When the robbery is committed in association with a criminal organization, the minimum penalty for a first offence is 5 years. 

This is where my vast experience as a criminal defence lawyer will be especially useful to you – if you are charged with robbery I will review the evidence of your case, find any and all defences available to you, and in some case be able to successfully negotiate your charges to less serious offences. This may avail you to sentences that avoid a conviction at all. 

Alternatively, I am an accomplished trial lawyer and will use my skills in analyzing the evidence and in cross-examination to provide you with the best possible chance of being found not guilty.

Potential Outcomes – Property Related Offences

Since property-related crimes span a broad range of offences, the penalties for each kind of crime are also quite diverse. The severity of the penalty will also vary depending on the monetary value of the property taken.

In general, if you are convicted or plead guilty to minor property related offences involving, for example, shoplifting, thefts and frauds less than $5,000 which proceed by summary election, then there is a maximum penalty of two years less a day in jail, and a $2,000 fine. It is important to remember that these are maximum penalties only. It does not mean that you will receive jail time for these types of offences. Common penalties for these types of offences may involves fines or probation. 

In some circumstances for less serious offences, you may also be eligible for a diversion program which would mean that upon completion, the charges against you would be withdrawn by the crown.

Where you are convicted of more serious property related offences such as break and enter or robbery, your sentence might result in jail time. 

There are also many repercussions that arise from being convicted for theft or fraud, for example in connection with your current and future employment. 

Because property offences are often coupled with other kinds of crimes, the ultimate punishment can be serious.  This is why it is important to retain my services, so that I can assess your situation and provide you with the best possible outcome. 

Call me, Susan Karpa, an experienced Property offence lawyer.

My extensive experience in criminal law and my knowledge of defending against these kinds of charges is vast. I will work to resolve your charges by scrutinizing the procedure used by the police, the evidence obtained, and the strategy of the crown. Often times I am able to have the charges against my clients completely withdrawn, without the necessity of proceeding to trial. 

It is my job to defend you against any property related charges you face. 

Give me a call