Toronto Robbery Lawyer
Robbery is an extremely serious charges under the Criminal Code. Robbery is a straight indictable offence that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Brian Weingarten is a Toronto Criminal Lawyer who has represented clients charged with all forms of robbery including including: simple robbery, robbery while armed with an offensive weapon, and robbery with a firearm. Brian has also successfully defended clients charged with various robbery offences. If you are facing this serious charge, contact Brian Weingarten Defence Law today to discuss your case.
What is Robbery and How Does it Differ from Theft?
The offence of robbery is distinct from that of theft. In the case of robbery, a theft or attempted theft, as well as some form of violence or assaultive behaviour, is involved. Section 343 of the Criminal Code outlines four different ways that a robbery may be committed. These include:
• Stealing and using violence or threats of violence in order to extort the property or to overcome resistance;
• Stealing from a person and either immediately before or after taking the property, wounding, striking, beating or otherwise using violence against the person;
• Assaulting any person with intent to steal;
• Stealing from a person while armed with a weapon or an imitation of a weapon.
What is Armed Robbery?
When a charge of armed robbery is laid, the Crown is referring to one of two different types of robbery. They may be referring to s. 343(d) of the Criminal Code, which is the charge of robbery while armed with an offensive weapon. Or the Crown may be referring to robbery where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence (s. 344(a.1)).
Where the Crown charges robbery while using a firearm, the Crown bears the burden of proving that a “firearm” was used in the commission of an offence. A firearm is defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code as follows:
firearm means a barrelled weapon from which any shot, bullet or other projectile can be discharged and that is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death to a person, and includes any frame or receiver of such a barrelled weapon and anything that can be adapted for use as a firearm; (arme à feu)
In light of this definition, a b.b. gun, or an air gun can be considered to be a “firearm,” if the Crown provesthat the barreled device is capable of causing serious bodily injury, or death to the person. In order to prove this element, the Crown will rely upon expert evidence concerning the muzzle velocity of the device, and whether it meets certain thresholds (i.e. the pig’s eye test).
Interestingly, caselaw has developed which requires the Crown to prove that the device was operable at the time of the commission of the robbery, or could have been made operable at the time with relative ease.
What if theFirearm Alleged to be Used in the Robbery was Never Recovered?
If the Crown pursues a charge of robbery while armed with a firearm, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused used a firearm during the course of the robbery. The Crown does not require the recovery of the purported firearm in order to pursue this charge or even secure a convection. The Crown can rely upon witnesses, or surveillance video to try to prove their case. The Crown can also try to rely purely upon circumstantial evidence. This is why it is extremely important to retain an experienced criminal lawyer when facing such a serious charge. In these cases, cross-examination at a preliminary inquiry or trial may make the difference between an acquittal, or and a conviction and a mandatory minimum sentence.
What are the Penalties for Robbery?
Robbery is an extremely serious charge under the Criminal Code and in most cases the Crown Attorney will vigorously prosecute the case. Robbery carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
The Code also prescribes a number of mandatory minimum sentences. Where a restricted or prohibited firearm is used in the commission of a robbery, a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment applies to a first offence. Second or subsequent offences carry a mandatory minimum of 7 years in jail. These mandatory minimum sentences also apply where any firearm is used in the commission of the robbery, and the robbery was committed for the benefit or, or at the direction of a criminal organization.
Where a robbery takes the form of a home invasion, the Code prescribes that this is an aggravating factor that is to be taken into consideration by the Court on sentencing.
Section 85(2) of the Criminal Code provides for a consecutive mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year imprisonment if an imitation firearm is used in the commission of an indictable offence.
What Are Possible Defences to Theft and Robbery Charges?
In robbery cases, the defences that might be raised really depend upon the facts of the particular case. In the case of robbery, identification is frequently an issue that is raised at trial. The Crown is required to prove that the accused individual was in fact the person who committed the offence. It may be possible to demonstrate that witness identifications or video surveillance taken at the scene do not establish the identity of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.
Breaches of an accused’s Charter rights during an investigation, arrest, or as a result of significant delay in bringing the matter to trial, might also result in the withdrawal of the charges or a stay of proceedings.
In the case of charges of robbery while using a firearm, technical defences may arise concerning the operability of the “firearm” at the time, and whether the device used is in fact a firearm, as defined in the Criminal Code.