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.

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.

Playing dumb may not necessarily 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.

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 crown proceeds by indictment (over $5,000) the maximum sentence is two years imprisonment.

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.

The Criminal Code of Canada defines the offence in section 354(1):

354 (1) Everyone commits an offence who has in his possession any property or thing or any proceeds of any property or thing knowing that all or part of the property or thing or of the proceeds was obtained by or derived directly or indirectly from (a) the commission in Canada of an offence punishable by indictment; or (b) an act or omission anywhere that, if it had occurred in Canada, would have constituted an offence punishable by indictment.

Dealing with a possession charge is a serious matter that requires a trustworthy legal representation. Whether it is a first-time offence, or you have had previous encounters with the criminal justice system, you need to retain the right legal representation for you or your loved ones. At Brace Law, we accept private retainers and legal aid certificates.

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