A property offence lawyer will help you protect your rights if you have been charged with an offence that relates to property, including: theft, robbery, breaking and entering, mischief, fraud, trespassing at night, and arson in Alberta. Even if you have already decided not to contact a lawyer before making a statement to the police, there is still hope. We advise you to contact our office immediately and seek legal counsel.
Robbery and theft, and other property offences such as joyriding and possession of stolen property, capture a wide range of criminal activities. The fundamental similarity amongst all these offences is the unlawful taking, possession, or trafficking of a good or service. Moreover, property offences also attempt to capture the types of methods used to acquire property unlawfully, such as break and entering and possession of break-in instruments.
The most archetypal forms of the taking-type of property offence are theft and robbery. Theft is the taking of a good or service with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of that good or service. Robbery, a form of aggravated theft, requires the elements of theft but also requires the use of force in addition to those basic elements; robbery is essentially a theft with the addition of an assault or threat of assault. The Criminal Code contains many additional types of taking-type property offences, like theft of a motor vehicle or criminal breach of trust.
The possession-type of property offence typically involves a charge of possession of property obtained by crime but may also include the more serious offence of trafficking in property obtained by crime. There are also derivative offences, such as possession of identity documents, that attempt to captures specific forms of possession or use of stolen property. Possession of stolen property requires possession of property knowing it was obtained unlawfully. An individual can be found to “know” that the property was stolen if they act willfully blind to that fact, i.e. they ignore a removed ignition or altered VIN when buying a car.
There is the class of offences that prohibit methods typically used in property offences, i.e. break and entering. The most serious of these offences is the home invasion, a break and enter of a residence in which the occupants are present. Other less serious offences include break and entering into a commercial building and being unlawfully in a dwelling house.
The possible sentences provided by the Criminal Code for theft ranges as high as ten years imprisonment. For robbery, the ceiling on sentence is life imprisonment. In reality, sentences do not often reach the highest end of the punishment provided for by the Criminal Code. First time shoplifters may only be sentenced to community service. However, sentencing for specific types of serious property offences remains high. For example, theft from an employer will typically result in a sentence of imprisonment, and a convenience store robbery will typically result in a penitentiary sentence. Moreover, there are minimum sentences for certain theft-like offences, like robberies in which nonrestricted or restricted/prohibited firearms are used, which attract 4- and 5-year minimums respectively. Even higher sentences have been delivered for offences involving armed home invasions. Finally, a Court may order an accused person to make financial restitution for property damage or loss, adding an additional layer of potential liability.
Whether you’re facing a shoplifting charge or a robbery offence, the possibility of a criminal conviction and sentence is significant legal jeopardy. Persons without a criminal record face the prospect of obtaining one and of being held liable for financial damages. Persons with criminal records risk building their records further and of being sentenced to incarceration. Moreover, property offences can engage complicated evidential issues, such as photo-lineup identification or fingerprint analysis, the admissibility of which turns on technical legal principles. Defence counsel can help you understand the Crown’s case, your defences, and what legal actions you should take to advance your legal interests.
If you have any questions, contact our offices now so we can help address you or your loved one’s legal jeopardy. We are available 24/7. We are forceful advocates and we ensure that our clients throughout Alberta are provided with the best defence possible.