If the police find you in possession of stolen property, a number of factors come into play. If the stolen property is more than $5,000, because the theft is an indictable offence, so is the possession of the stolen property.
This can put the potential penalties at as much as 10 years in prison. For possession of stolen property worth less than $5,000, the Crown Prosecutor can pursue an indictable offence, with a maximum sentence of two years, or a summary offence, with a potential fine of $2,000 and a prison term of six months or less. Obviously, the potential penalties for possession of stolen property are serious, even for property worth lesser amounts. But what happens if you did not know the property was stolen?
Every Crime Has Elements the Crown Prosecutor Must Prove
No matter what the criminal offence, the Crown has the duty to prove two things: first, actus reus, a Latin expression that means there was an act or omission that resulted in a criminal act, and mens rea, a Latin term that means there was simultaneously an intent to commit a criminal act. Depending upon the offence, different elements of proof may be necessary. For a drug possession charge, for instance, actus reus and mens rea both are proven when the defendant possessed the illegal drug and knew it was an illegal drug. Few people come into the possession of cocaine thinking it is something else. Stolen property, on the other hand, often is not presented as stolen. The federal Criminal Code requires that the person in possession of the stolen property knew or should have known that the property was obtained by “commission in Canada of an offence punishable by indictment” or “an act or omission anywhere that, if it had occurred in Canada, would have constituted an offence punishable by indictment.” To put it another way, the person in possession of the stolen property had to know that the property was stolen, or obtained via fraud. Failing that, the Crown must show that a reasonable person would have believed the property was stolen and didn’t bother to find out whether the property was, in fact, stolen. Whether possession of stolen property will result in charges or a conviction against you depends upon circumstances. To make those circumstances work in your favour, get a lawyer.
If You Are Facing Possession of Stolen Property Charges in the Calgary area, Contact the Lawyers of Bourdon Defence
Convictions on charges of possession of stolen property carry steep consequences, including substantial time in jail. If you are facing such charges, you’ll need an experienced lawyer to help you defend yourself. The lawyers of Bourdon Defence can assist you in protecting your rights under such circumstances. You can reach us at (403) 474-4143 or through our website.