Robbery is a serious criminal charge with grave consequences. Robbery can mean everything from punching a person on the street and taking their wallet or cell phone, to robbing a taxi driver or store owner, to a full-blown bank heist. Any theft or attempted theft, by way of assault may qualify for criminal robbery charges being brought against an individual in court.
The Criminal Code of Canada States:
343 Everyone commits robbery who:
(a) steals, and for the purpose of extorting whatever is stolen or to prevent or overcome resistance to the stealing, uses violence or threats of violence to a person or property;
(b) steals from any person and, at the time he steals or immediately before or immediately thereafter, wounds, beats, strikes or uses any personal violence to that person;
(c) assaults any person with intent to steal from him; or
(d) steals from any person while armed with an offensive weapon or imitation thereof. R.S., c. C-34, s. 302.
344 Punishment for Robbery
344 Every one who commits robbery is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life. R.S., c. C-34, s. 303; 1972, c. 13, s. 70.
A person commits armed robbery when he takes something from someone else, using violence or intimidation, while carrying a dangerous weapon.
In most provinces, “armed robbery” is not a distinct crime. Instead, defendants are charged with a type of robbery known as “aggravated robbery.” Using a dangerous weapon constitutes an aggravating factor, which makes the crime more serious than simple robbery, which doesn’t involve a weapon. An assault coupled with the mere intent to steal also qualifies as robbery as defined by the Criminal Code of Canada.
Additionally, anyone who steals from any person while armed with a weapon or imitation weapon is deemed to have committed this offence.
Robbery is a very serious criminal offence and one which you can expect to receive a jail sentence if you are convicted. Generally, the starting point is anywhere from 2 to 3 years in jail, although there can be mitigating factors that reduce the length of the jail sentence. The maximum penalty for robbery is life imprisonment. There are also circumstances where a minimum jail sentence is imposed. For example, where a firearm was used during the robbery there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 4 years in jail. If robbery is committed while using a firearm and the offence is committed for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization, the convicted person will be subject to a maximum sentence of life in prison and to a minimum sentence of five years in prison for a first offence and seven years in prison for a second or subsequent offence.
The consequences arising from being convicted of a robbery charge can include:
As with most crimes in the provinces of Canada, simply being arrested or charged with a crime is not the same thing as being found guilty of the crime. There are a number of possible defenses that may be a part of presenting your case in court. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help you understand these defenses in more detail.
Among the potential defense tactics would be:
Burden of Proof
The prosecution has the burden of proving that the defendant not only committed the crime, but did so beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, every element of the charge, such as the taking away of a person’s property by force, must be proven by the prosecution.
In some cases, it is possible that you can argue that you are innocent. To successfully do this, you must be able to prove that you were not the one to commit the robbery, which can be done by providing a reliable alibi or other proof.
Another possible legal defense to robbery is that of duress. To prove duress, defendants must show that someone forced them to commit a robbery against their will by threatening them with bodily injury or death. This defense is generally difficult to prove and rejected by many courts.
In the circumstances where your offence was not recorded, or the recording of the alleged offence is of dubious quality, you may be able to raise identity as a defence. That is, you can assert that you were not the person who committed the offence, and that the authorities made a mistake when identifying you as the perpetrator. In order to effectively raise this defence, it is important that you have some sort of corroborative evidence, for example, an alibi or evidence that suggests you could have not committed the offence because you were somewhere else at the time.
If you are charged with robbery, no matter what type, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can explain the legal process to you and determine the best course of action to follow depending on the charges against you, the law in your province, and how your case is likely to be treated by the local judge and prosecutor. An attorney can tell you if you are in a good position to get the charges reduced or dismissed, obtain a good plea bargain, or go to trial. With an attorney’s help, you can protect your rights and hopefully obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
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