Possession of Property Obtained by Crime is a commonly laid offence that relates to property rights. In many cases when an individual is arrested for shoplifting the police will lay this charge in addition to theft. It is also commonly laid in conjunction with fraud charges. The Criminal Code of Canada defines the offence in section 354(1):
This is a very serious offence which requires that the accused was aware that the property was obtained directly or indirectly from the commission of an indictable offence. If an accused person has absolutely no knowledge that an item is stolen, they cannot be guilty of purchasing or possessing that item.
Acting aloof and playing dumb may not necessary save you from a conviction with these charges. A crown attorney may also be able to establish your guilt by virtue of the fact that you should have known that the item was stolen based on suspicious circumstances. In any case where you are charged with this or any criminal offence, call our office to setup an appointment. The first step is explaining the full story to Michael to allow him to assess any possible defence(s). Michael can be reached directly at 416-428-2760.
The penalties for this offence vary depending on the value of the property involved. If the value of the property alleged exceeds $5,000, the offence is straight indictable and carries a maximum sentence of ten years in a penitentiary. If the value of the alleged property is under $5,000, it is a hybrid offence. This means the crown attorney can elect to proceed summarily or by indictment. If the crown elects to proceed by summary conviction (under $5,000) the maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail. If the crown proceeds by indictment (over $5,000) the maximum sentence is two years imprisonment.