At CS Law, we practice in all areas of criminal defence from defending individuals charged with violent offences all the way through to driving and property related crimes. In our experience, the three main categories of property related crimes are as follows:
Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Under / Over $5,000
This offence originates under s. 354 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The substance of the offence involves the Crown Attorney having to prove the following:
(a) the property is of the value that is being alleged;
(b) the accused possessed the property (the doctrine of possession under Canadian criminal law includes “actual”, “joint” and “constructive” possession, meaning that the individual need not have the item(s) on their person to be found guilty);
(c) the property was the result of a criminal act; and
(4) the accused knew, or ought to have known, that the property was originally obtained by way of a criminal act.
Mischief Under / Over $5,000
Mischief is a property crime found under section 430(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada. The substance of the offence, most commonly, involves destroying, damaging or rendering property useless or inoperative. Depending on the value of the property, one can be charged with either Mischief Under $5,000 or Over $5,000. Mischief Over $5,000 is a more serious criminal offence that is considered an “indictable” charge.
Other, less common, ways one can be charged with this crime is where an individual interferes with the lawful use or enjoyment of a property. One example of this, based on prior cases we have worked on, is releasing noxious fumes in a specific area that is occupied by people.
Theft Under / Over $5,000
Theft is an all too common charge that police lay. It involves an allegation that certain property was intentionally taken from its rightful owner without colour of right (or without a legal basis).
Like the offence of Mischief, Theft involves a Theft Under $5,000 charge as well as a Theft Over $5,000 charge. Theft Over $5,000 is an indictable charge. A common example of Theft Under $5,000 would be shoplifting. A common example of a Theft Over $5,000 would be the stealing of a car.
The higher the value of the property, the more aggravating the act will be considered. Moreover, if a Theft is committed against an employer, even if the value of the property is not significant, the act will be considered aggravating because the existence of a breach of trust.
If an accused has no prior record and is charged with a low-level theft that is not committed against an employer, the Crown Attorney may offer a resolution known as the Direct Accountability program. This is a program through which an accused can complete some up-front tasks (like community service hours) in exchange for the Crown to withdraw / stay (terminate) the charges.