When theft is carried out with violence or threats of violence, the resultant charge is robbery as per Section 343 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Such violence can occur during the course of the theft or immediately before or after. An assault coupled with the mere intent to steal also qualifies as robbery as defined by the Criminal Code of Canada.
Additionally, anyone who steals from any person while armed with a weapon or imitation weapon is deemed to have committed this offence. Importantly, the violence or assault does not have to be in furtherance of the theft itself – it only has to immediately precede or follow it.
The penalty if you are convicted of robbery can be severe. The maximum punishment is life in prison. There are also a number of mandatory minimums codified in the criminal code depending on whether this is your first offence and/or if a firearm was used. By consulting with a criminal defence lawyer, you can properly analyze your charges and determine the likely sentence and the extent of the punishment you are facing.
In general, if you can raise a doubt as to whether the theft or attempted theft was accompanied by violence or an assault, the offence of robbery will not be made out. For instance, in a ‘purse snatching’ scenario – where the purse was grabbed before the victim could resist and there was no additional contact – the offence will not be made out. Other, more fact-specific defences may be available to you. A competent lawyer can analyze your particular facts and advise you of your options. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have been charged with this or another criminal offence.