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What is the Criminal Offence ‘Possession of Stolen Property?’

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Canadian Criminal Code identifies the possession of the stolen property as a criminal offence punishable by fines and other penalties.

The criteria for the crime include:

  •  Being in possession of the property.
  •  The property in question was obtained via a criminal act.
  •  You were well aware that the item you were in possession of was obtained via criminal means.
  •  You were aware that you were in possession of said stolen property.

If convicted, the Crown may decide the type of punishment that the defendant should receive, meaning that sentencing varies on a case-by-case basis. The penalties will likely depend upon the value of the stolen property, with a $5,000 threshold determining the worst set of punishments. Either side of the $5,000 threshold is sometimes known as ‘possession under’ and ‘possession over.’

If you have been accused of being in possession of stolen property, it is absolutely vital that you seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defence lawyer without further delay. William Jaksa Criminal Litigation has over a decade of criminal law legal experience, making our law firm a trustworthy source for your legal advice and courtroom representation.

What Are Common Examples of Coming into Possession of Stolen Property?

Common legal strategies for accusations of the possession of stolen property include:

  •  Innocent possession of the piece of property.
  •  Lack of possession of the property in question.
  •  Right to possess the property.
  •  The police performed an unreasonable or unauthorized search and seizure.
  •  Unaware that you were in possession of stolen property (lack of mens rea).

What Are the Potential Penalties for Possession of Stolen Property in Canada?

There is no minimum penalty for possessing stolen property, but maximum penalties exist.

The maximum penalty for stolen items valued at $5,000 or more is a decade of prison time and additional fines.

What is ‘Mens Rea?’

Among the most effective criminal defence strategies for the crime of possession of the stolen property is arguing a lack of mens rea.

Mens rea is a legal term referring to criminal intent. The translation from the original Latin is, ‘guilty mind.’ In order to be guilty of the possession of stolen property, a person must have knowingly stolen the item or purchased an item that they knew to be stolen. A lack of criminal intent, and a willingness to turn over the property once it’s revealed to have been acquired by less than legal means, may clear an individual of any criminal wrongdoing.

Consider the scenario of purchasing an item at a resale store. You think you’ve found a great deal, so you buy the item you found at the store. If you believe the deal to be ‘too good to be true’ and possibly a ‘hot item’ acquired via illegal means, you should not purchase the item. But if that thought does not occur to you and you purchase the item simply believing yourself to have found a great deal, you should be in the clear. If the item you bought is later revealed to be stolen property, it must be turned over, and you must attempt to prove that you purchased it with no criminal intent or a lack of mens rea.

Consult with an Experienced Toronto Criminal Defence Lawyer About Your Case Today

If you’ve been accused of being in possession of stolen property, it’s absolutely imperative that you consult with a legal professional to discuss your case in more detail. Theft and stolen property crimes are serious and not to be taken lightly. Even if you avoid jail time, a conviction could follow you for decades to come, making it challenging to obtain the employment opportunities you are after.

The William Jaksa Criminal Litigation law firm has the experience and track record of success to provide you with a solid legal defence. We have spent years defending clients across Toronto, Ontario with their criminal defence needs. To learn the legal services we may be able to provide, please contact our law offices today to request a case evaluation.

Call us today at 647-951-8078.

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