Robbery Charges

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:

    • (a) An individual steals, and in so doing uses violence or threats of violence directed towards another individual or an individual’s property.
    • (b) an individual steals, and immediately before or after, wounds, beats, strikes or uses any personal violence towards another person.
    • (c) An individual assaults another person with intent to steal from them.
    • (d) An individual steals, while in possession of an offensive weapon, or an imitation of such a weapon.

Robbery Charges Sentencing

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.

    • A conviction for robbery may carry several ancillary orders, such as a mandatory DNA order and Weapons Prohibition Order where violence was used.

Theft Charges

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.

Theft Charges Sentencing

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.

  • Theft over 5k
    • Such offences can be indictable and a guilty verdict could carry a term of not more than 10 years of incarceration. Otherwise, the offence is punishable on summary conviction.
  • Theft under 5k
    • In these instances, if the Crown proceeds by indictment, the accused could face a term of incarceration not exceeding two years. Otherwise, the offence is punishable on summary conviction.

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