Robbery is a form of theft that includes violence, the threat of violence and/or possessing a weapon to commit the offence. Robbery charges are straight indictable. As a result, they often carry very significant prison sentences. Section 343 of the Criminal Code states that one may be charged with robbery under the following circumstances:
Robbery is an indictable offence. If a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, or if a firearm is used and the offence is committed for the benefit, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal organization, the accused may be liable to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of five years for a first offence, and for a term of seven years for subsequent offences.
The fundamental difference between robbery and theft is the presence of real or perceived violence. While committing a robbery, an individual would have to resort to violence, threats of violence, or be in possession of an offensive weapon to be charged. No violence, threats, or weapon possession is needed in order to be charged with theft. Simple stealing qualifies as such, as in the case of shoplifting.
Section 334 (a) and (b) of the Criminal Code concern theft. Everyone who fraudulent and unlawfully deprives another individual of anything, whether animate or inanimate, with intent to make it their own, may be charged with theft. The Crown must prove that the accused had specific intent to steal (i.e., deprive an owner of their property).
If the accused paid for the property, was given the property, honestly but mistakenly believed that the property was theirs or the accused forgot that they were in possession of the property, could all be bars to criminal liability.
The severity of sentencing for theft upon conviction depends, in large part, on the value of that which was stolen. Theft charges may be either over five thousand dollars, or under. Unsurprisingly, theft over five thousand dollars is a more serious offence, and carries more serious sentences upon a possible conviction.