Canadian Criminal Law/Offences/Robbery

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Robbery
s. 343 of the Crim. Code
Election / Plea
Crown Election Indictable
Jurisdiction Prov. Court
SC Judge + PI (I)
SC Jury + PI (I) (536(2))
Indictable Dispositions
Maximum life
References
Offence Elements
Sentence Principles
Sentence Digests
Comments
DNA Primary designated offence
DO/LTO Designated Offence

Legislation[edit]

343. Every one commits robbery who

(a) steals, and for the purpose of extorting whatever is stolen or to prevent or overcome resistance to the stealing, uses violence or threats of violence to a person or property;
(b) steals from any person and, at the time he steals or immediately before or immediately thereafter, wounds, beats, strikes or uses any personal violence to that person;
(c) assaults any person with intent to steal from him; or
(d) steals from any person while armed with an offensive weapon or imitation thereof.


CCC

Proof of Offence[edit]

There are four different ways that a Robbery can be committed.

343(a): violence to extort or overcome resistance[edit]

The essential elements of Robbery under s. 343(a):[1]

  1. identity of accused
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. Accused steals from victim
  5. Accused uses or threats violence
  6. threat or violence was for a specified purpose of carrying out the robbery
  7. Details on goods taken:
    1. value of goods
    2. continuity of goods
    3. possession of goods by accused (if applicable)
    4. the goods were not given voluntarily to the accused

343(b): personal violence at or near time of theft[edit]

  1. identity of accused
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. the accused steals something
  5. the accused use of violence shortly before or after theft

343(c): assault with intent to steal[edit]

  1. identity of accused
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. the accused assaults victim
  5. the accused intends to steal from victim

343(d): theft while armed[edit]

  1. identity of accused
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. the accused steals
  5. the accused is armed with a weapon
  1. R v Rudolph, 2012 SKQB 167 at 8

Stealing[edit]

The term "steal" is defined in s. 2 as meaning "to commit theft". While "committing theft" is defined in s. 322:

Theft
322. (1) Every one commits theft who fraudulently and without colour of right takes, or fraudulently and without colour of right converts to his use or to the use of another person, anything, whether animate or inanimate, with intent

(a) to deprive, temporarily or absolutely, the owner of it, or a person who has a special property or interest in it, of the thing or of his property or interest in it;
(b) to pledge it or deposit it as security;
(c) to part with it under a condition with respect to its return that the person who parts with it may be unable to perform; or
(d) to deal with it in such a manner that it cannot be restored in the condition in which it was at the time it was taken or converted.

Time when theft completed
(2) A person commits theft when, with intent to steal anything, he moves it or causes it to move or to be moved, or begins to cause it to become movable.
Secrecy
(3) A taking or conversion of anything may be fraudulent notwithstanding that it is effected without secrecy or attempt at concealment.
Purpose of taking
(4) For the purposes of this Act, the question whether anything that is converted is taken for the purpose of conversion, or whether it is, at the time it is converted, in the lawful possession of the person who converts it is not material.
...
R.S., c. C-34, s. 283.

CCC

See also: Canadian Criminal Law/Offences/Theft

Violence or Threat of Violence: 343 (a)[edit]

The violence is made out by an unlawful assault. However, to make out robbery the assault must be for a specific intent.

The violence or threats of violence must be for the purpose of taking whatever that is stolen and so it requires that the violence or threats be before or contemporaneous to the theft.[1]

If however the property was "stolen clandestinely" or "surreptitious[ly]", then the presence of violence or threats of violence to enable escape will not make out a robbery.[2]

Purse-snatching will not make out a robbery where the item was taken before the victim had a chance to resist.[3]

The violence can be used against a target other than the victim being robbed.[4]

An utterance threatening force will be sufficient to make out the violence element of the offence. There is no need to measure the degree of violence.[5]

Conduct alleging to be implicit in its violence or threat of violence is determined by whether a reasonable person would have felt or apprehended that violence was conveyed or threatened in the circumstances.[6]

Passing a note requesting money to a bank teller can be sufficient to make out a threat of violence.[7]

A threat of violence need not be overt. A display of a knife while hooded and a demand for money is an implied threat of violence. [8]

Holding a person down to prevent resistance constitutes violence.[9]

What constitutes a threat comes from the case law of the charge of uttering threats under s.264. If the utterance meets the criteria, it is irrelevant whether the victim appreciated the threatening nature of the utterance.[10] To put it another way, the effect of the threat on the prospective victim is of no consequence.[11]

"Extort" is defined in the shorter Oxford English Dictionary in part as, "To wrest from a reluctant person by force, violence, torture, intimidation".

  1. R. v. Newell, 2007 NLCA 9 (CanLII) at para. 32
    R. v. Jean, 2012 BCCA 448 (CanLII)
  2. R. v. Downer (1978), 40 C.C.C. (2d) 532, Martin J.A. at para. 14 ("If property was stolen clandestinely, violence or threats of violence to enable the thief to escape, or to prevent the re-taking by the owner of what had been stolen, did not have the effect of escalating larceny into robbery") see also para. 25
  3. R. v. Picard (1976) 39 CCC (2d) 57
  4. R. v. Newell, 2007 NLCA 9
  5. R. v. Lecky (2001), 157 CCC (3d) 351
  6. R. v. MacCormack (2009), 241 CCC (3d) 516, 2009 ONCA 72 (ONCA)
    R. v. Sayers, (1983) 8 CCC (3d) 572 (ONCA)
    R. v. Pelletier, (1992) 71 CCC (3d) 438
  7. R. v. Katrensky (1975), 24 CCC (2d)350
  8. R v Griffin 2011 NSCA 103; R. v. Douglas, 2012 MBQB 197 (CanLII)
  9. R. v. Trudel (1984), 12 CCC (3d) 342
  10. R. v. Carons (1978), 42 C.C.C. (2d) 19 (Alta. C.A.)
  11. R v. Nabis [1974] 18 C.C.C. (2d) 144

Stealing with Personal Violence: 343 (b)[edit]

"violence" in this section means more than a technical assault.[1] It is determined using a subjective/objective test.[2]

  1. R. v. Lew (1978), 30 CCC (2d) 140 (ONCA)
  2. R. v. Bourassa (2004), 189 CCC (3d) 438, 2004 NSCA 127 (NSCA)

Assault with Intent to Steal: 343 (c)[edit]

Assault has the same meaning as s. 266. This includes technical assaults[1]

There is no need to prove that a theft actually occurred.[2]

Weapon
Under s. 343(d) the "weapon" must be either (1) an actual firearm; (2) an imitation firearm; or (3) an offensive weapon. Simply using one's hand to imitate a firearm is not sufficient.[3]

Armed
"Armed" must be the actual possession of a weapon. This does not include simulating possession of a weapon.[4]

  1. R. v. Lew (1978), 40 CCC (2d) 140
  2. R. v. Allison (1983), 33 C.R. (3d) 333 (ONCA)
  3. R. v. Delage (2001) 154 CCC (3d) 85 (Que CA), 2001 CanLII 2656
  4. R. v. Sloan (1974), 19 CCC (2d) 190 (BCCA)
    R. v. Gouchie (1976), 33 CCC (2d) 120

As Opposed to Theft[edit]

Given that robbery is a form of theft, there can be cases where the proximity and connection between theft and violence is limited. A theft where there is violence after the completion of the theft can be treated as distinct from robbery.[1]

This distinction is most seen in robbery under s. 343(a) which requires violence or threats to "overcome resistance to stealing". Where the threats are made after the completion of the theft, such as after a shoplifter leaves a store and is followed by staff, threats or violence may be found as only for the purpose of escape and not the purpose of preventing stealing which is already complete by this point.[2]

  1. R. v. Newell, 2007 NLCA 9
  2. see R v Daughma, [1989] O.J. No. 1765 - in this case, threats occurred outside of store after accused steals a bottle of wine. c.f. R v Morgan, 2013 ABCA 26 (CanLII) - offender pointed a gun at guard in the parking lot while offender was getting into his car. Judge found it was a robbery

Dangerous Offenders and Long-Term Offenders[edit]

Robbery is classified as a "serious personal injury offence" (s. 752) where there is violence or threats of violence involved.[1]

  1. R. v. Lebar 2010 ONCA 220
    R v Griffin 2011 NSCA 103 - court found threat of violence and SPIO where offender wore a disguise and tapped a knife on the counter while asking for money

Included Offences[edit]

The following have been found to be included offences:

  • Assault[1]
  • Assault causing bodily harm [2]
  • Theft[3]
  1. R. v. Luckett (1981) 20 CR (3d) 393 (SCC)
  2. R. v. Horsefall, 1990 CanLII 1039 (BC C.A.)
  3. R. v. Boisvert (1991) 68 CCC (3d) 478, 1991 CanLII 3039 (Que CA)