Property Offence Lawyers Edmonton

Although the offences themselves may appear pretty straight-forward (theft of motor vehicle, for example, is just what it sounds like), these can be difficult charges to deal with.

For example, let’s say that you found a wallet on the street, and pick it up. You thought it was lost, and meant to turn it in, but the police see you with it and charge you with possession of stolen property. Did you know that the Crown could argue that, because the wallet was reported stolen a very short time prior to the time you were found to be in possession of it, the Court can (not will) infer that you knew that it was stolen even though your evidence might be that you thought it was lost?

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The most common types of property offences include:

Theft:

Where a person is alleged to have taken a thing without the consent of the owner.

Possession of Stolen Property:

Where a person is in possession of either a thing that was stolen OR a thing that was obtained as a result of a criminal act (ie: money received in exchange for drugs), AND the person knows or should have known, or is willfully blind about, that the thing was stolen or otherwise obtained as a result of a criminal act.

Mischief:

This refers to an Offender interfering in a right to use or enjoy property. While this often involves the damage and/or destruction of that property, it can also cover that does not damage the property.

Some common defences to property offences include:

Do you have a colour of right? In other words, do you have a legal interest in the property that makes your use/possession legitimate?

Can the Crown prove that the property was stolen? This is an essential element of the offence; if the Crown cannot prove that the item was stolen, the Crown will not be able to prove that your possession of it was criminal.

Did you know that the property was stolen?This is also an essential element of the offence; if the Crown cannot prove that you knew the item was stolen, or was willfully blind as to the item being stolen, then the Crown will not be able to prove that your possession of it was criminal.

Did you have control over the item?There is more type of possession (inferred, actual, joint, and constructive being examples), and so different types of control. If you had no control over the item, the Crown will not be able to prove you were in possession of it.

Did you know that, if the property is discovered as a result of a breach of one or more of your rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (for example, as a result of a warrantless search that was not reasonable in the circumstances, leading to a breach of Charter s. 8, which protects you from unreasonable search or seizure), that that evidence might be found to be inadmissible at trial?

Did you know that if you are found in the backseat of a car when the driver, having been pulled over, is charged with possession of the stolen property sitting on the passenger seat, you could (again, not will) be found guilty as a party (with the driver) to the offence of possession of stolen property?

Did you know that, if the police think that you have stolen property in your house, they have to show a Court that they have reasonable grounds to believe that a search of your house will provide evidence of a specific offence that has been committed? That you don’t have to let the police in just because they show up at your door and tell you they want to come in and look around? And that the police can’t come and knock on your door in the hopes that, when you answer, they’ll see evidence of criminality sitting in your porch beside your shoes and last week’s supermarket flyers?

Did you know that you cannot be randomly frisked or strip-searched just because the police suspect you might have stolen property on you?