What are defences to theft?
There are a variety of defences for individuals charged with theft. The most important step in determining what defences are available, is to hire an experienced lawyer who can properly assess your case. Cory Wilson has successfully represented countless individuals charges with theft.
In order to be convicted of theft, the Crown Prosecutor will generally have to prove the following:
- identity of accused
- date and time of incident
- jurisdiction (province in which the act occurred)
- property was owned by someone
- value of the property
- continuity of the property
- file photo of property or actual property as exhibits (s. 491.2)
- accused took or converted property
- the owner did not give permission for the accused to take or convert it
- the items were not given to the accused
- the accused intended to deprive the owner of the property
If you are not caught “red-handed” with the stolen property, one possible defence is identity. If the Crown is relying on a video recording of the theft or an eye- witness, many steps can be taken by a skilled defence lawyer to undermine the Crown’s case and raise a reasonable doubt as to the identity of the person who stole the goods.
No Intent to Steal
In order to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the Crown must prove that the accused intentionally stole the goods. Often, especially in shoplifting cases, people inadvertently walk out of a store with goods that they forgot to pay for. These circumstances happen when the accused is distracted by their children, a phone call or are simply lost in thought. It is a full defence to theft if the accused had no intention of stealing the goods. In order to make out this defence, the accused will likely have to testify to his or her intentions.
Colour of Right
The defence of colour of right applies in situations where the accused had an honest belief that he or she had a right to be in possession of the goods alleged to be stolen. It doesn’t apply in a situation where the accused took the goods without consent to clear an outstanding debt with the affected party. The defence only applies in situations where the accused believed he or she had an honest belief in a state of facts which, if actually existed would at law justify or excuse the act done.