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When Should Theft Be Reported?

You can be charged with theft in Canada under the Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46) if you take or convert something that doesn’t belong to you with the intent to deprive the owner of it temporarily or permanently. Because theft is a criminal offense, a conviction could lead to severe penalties, including jail time. But exactly when should theft be reported, and how does this affect your case?

If you have been charged with theft, consult an experienced Vancouver criminal lawyer right away.

Proving a Theft Charge

The burden of proving a theft charge in Canada lies with the Crown Prosecutor. For a defendant to be found guilty of the crime, the prosecutor will have to establish the following elements:

  • That the defendant moved something, caused it to be moved, or began to move it knowing it belonged to someone else.
  • That the defendant moved the property, intending to steal it either temporarily or permanently.
  • That the defendant did not have the property owner’s consent

Where the owner’s property had CCTV cameras, there is usually strong evidence against the defendant. Nonetheless, this should not discourage you as an experienced lawyer could put up a good defense.

Limitation Period for Summary Convictions

Canadian law recognizes three types of offenses, summary conviction, indictable, and hybrid offenses. Indictable offenses are serious crimes like murder, while summary conviction offenses are less serious crimes, such as theft under $5,000. A hybrid offense, on the other hand, is a crime that could be categorized as either an indictable or summary conviction.

Generally, there is no statute of limitations on serious or indictable convictions, which means such crimes can be reported at any time. Summary conviction offenses, however, are subject to a 6-month limitation period, which begins counting on the date of commission.

Therefore, if a theft is under $5,000 and considered a summary conviction offense, the plaintiff is required to report it within 6 months after the crime was allegedly committed.

Limitation Period for Hybrid Theft Convictions

Most charges in Canada are tried as hybrid offenses, which is done to give the Crown Prosecutor more flexibility on how to prosecute the case. The prosecutor may decide to either pursue the charge summarily or by way of indictment, otherwise called electing.

Should the Crown Attorney elect to pursue a theft charge by way of indictment, the limitation period discussed above ceases to apply to the case. Simply put, the defendant will be charged regardless of when the plaintiff decides to report the case. They are no longer protected by the criminal law limitation period applied to summary conviction offenses.

Talk to a Vancouver Criminal Defense Lawyer

There is a limitation period for some criminal offenses in Canada, after which you cannot be charged with the crime. To find out more about how this deadline applies to your case, consult an experienced attorney.

Nicholas J. Preovolos has been defending the rights of criminal defendants in Vancouver for over 15 years. He understands the ins and outs of criminal theft in Vancouver, BC, and will work tirelessly to protect you and your interests.

If you have been charged with theft, contact N.J. Preovolos Law Corporation at (604) 521-5291 to schedule a consultation with a Vancouver Theft Lawyer.