What You Need to Know About Robbery In Canada
Robbery is a serious criminal offence in Canada and occurs when a person uses violence or the threat of violence while committing theft. The amount of jail time someone will face for robbery depends on the circumstances of the case. For instance, if a firearm is used during a robbery, or if the robbery is tied to a criminal organization, the mandatory minimum sentence is five years for a first offence. Also, if robbery is your second or subsequent offence, you will face a longer jail sentence. The maximum penalty for robbery is life in prison.
If you are charged with robbery, you will need an expert criminal lawyer. Pyzer Criminal Lawyers have over 35 years of defending robbery and theft charges. You can view recent robbery cases where we successfully defended our clients against robbery charges.
What Is Robbery?
The Criminal Code of Canada defines robbery in section 343:
Every one commits robbery who:
- 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;
- 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;
- assaults any person with intent to steal from him; or
- steals from any person while armed with an offensive weapon or imitation thereof.
In other words, robbery is when an individual commits theft in such a manner that uses violence or the threat of violence.
What Types of Robbery Are There?
In the US, robbery has different categories, including “armed” robbery and “aggravated” robbery. This means that in the US, someone can be charged with:
- Armed robbery, and/or
- Aggravated robbery
In Canada, there is only one category of robbery, which is: robbery. Whether you commit an action under section 343(a), (b), (c), or (d) of the Criminal Code, you will be charged with robbery.
Although the Criminal Code of Canada doesn’t classify the offence of robbery the same way the US does, our robbery laws technically include what the US refers to as armed and/or aggravated robbery.
What Is Armed Robbery?
Sometimes, you might hear the term armed robbery in Canada. For example, when a robbery is referred to as an “armed” robbery (i.e.: by the police or news media), the individual is typically charged under section 343(d)which states: “everyone commits robbery who steals from any person while armed with an offensive weapon or imitation weapon.”
When the Criminal Code states “offensive weapon”, the most obvious offensive weapons are firearms or knives. However, an “offensive weapon” means anything used, or designed or intended to be used to:
- Cause death or injury to any person, or
- For the purpose of threatening or intimidating any person.
This means that any item used in personal violence, whether it is your cell phone or a candle, can be classified as an offensive weapon if you use it in a way that can injure someone, or if you threaten or intimidate someone with it.
What Is Aggravated Robbery?
Again, in Canada there is only one type of robbery, that we simply refer to as “robbery”. However, several US states have their own criminal codes and someone can be charged with an aggravated robbery. In Chicago, for example, an aggravated robbery is when a person steals from another while indicating verbally or by their actions to the victim that they are armed with a dangerous weapon.
What Is the Penalty in Canada if Convicted of Robbery?
The penalties for robbery depend on the circumstances of the offence:
If a restricted or prohibited firearm is used during the robbery, or if any firearm is used during the robbery and the robbery is tied to a criminal organization, the maximum punishment is imprisonment for life. The minimum punishment is:
- If it is your first offence, the minimum punishment is five years;
- If it is your second offence, the minimum punishment is seven years
In any other case where a person commits robbery with a firearm, the minimum punishment is four years of prison, and, in any other case, to imprisonment for life.
In Canada, certain convicted persons may be designated as a dangerous offender if they inflict serious injury on someone during the course of the. A robbery dangerous offender label in Canada subjects the offender to a longer, or indefinite, term of imprisonment in order to protect the public.
If your robbery conviction is your second or subsequent conviction you may also face a longer jail sentence. The Criminal Code lists the following crimes that if, prior to your robbery conviction, you were found guilty of one of the following crimes, you will face a longer jail sentence:
The Code also states that if, prior to your robbery conviction, you committed any of the following offences with a firearm, they will also be considered subsequent offences, and will lead to a longer prison sentence:
Additional Aggravating Factors for Sentencing
Once you have been found guilty of robbery, the judge considers aggravating factors when it is time to sentence you. Aggravating factors will add more time to your sentence, whereas mitigating factors take away from your sentence.
The sentencing judge may consider the following aggravating factors when determining your proper sentence:
- Whether weapons were involved
- Which weapons were involved
- The degree of violence used
- Whether the victim or bystanders were injured
- The extent of victim or bystander injuries
- The location of the robbery
- Your criminal history
- The value of the stolen items
Robbery vs Theft - Understanding the Differences
A person commits theft when the person steals property. The person will either be charged with theft under $5000 or theft over $5000 depending on the value of the stolen items. Motor vehicle theft is a separate offence in the Criminal Code of Canada.
Robbery, on the other hand, is when someone commits theft with violence or the threat of violence.
There Must be Violence or Threats of Violence to be Convicted of Robbery
In order to be convicted of robbery, violence or threats of violence must have occurred before or during the theft. The violence or threat of violence also must be for the purpose of taking what is being stolen.
“Violence” is made out when an individual unlawfully assaults a victim in order to steal something.
“Threats of violence” cover a wide range of actions, such as uttering, implying, or conveying threats of violence.
The production of an actual weapon is not necessary to be charged with robbery. For example, threats of violence can be implied if a person robbing a store is pretending to hold a knife under their jacket while demanding money. That person can be charged for robbery because they were threatening violence when they implied they had a weapon under their jacket.
What Should I Do If I Am Facing A Robbery Charge?
At Pyzer Criminal Lawyers, we have the experience to defend your rights and obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
You can be charged with robbery at the scene of a crime, or later once police have gathered more evidence. The Toronto Police reported 2,369 alleged robberies in 2020. Out of those, charges resulted in 1,076 of the cases.
Your Criminal Defense Lawyers Role
If an individual commits robbery, they will need an expert robbery and theft lawyers. Pyzer Criminal Lawyers will assist you in understanding your charges, the sentences you may face, and we will put forward the best possible legal defence. Click here to read our recent cases where we successfully defended our client’s against their robbery charges.
Take Your Robbery Defence Seriously
Robbery is a serious criminal charge with severe consequences if found guilty. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.