What are the best defences to theft charges?

>>>What are the best defences to theft charges?

The best defence to your theft charge will depend heavily on the particulars of your offence and as such, you should review your disclosure with a lawyer to see what defences might be available to you. However, here are some commonly raised and effective defences that may be applicable in your circumstances:

No Mens Rea or Mental Intent:

One common and effective defence to a theft charge is to argue that you did not have the mental intention required to be found guilty of this offence. That is, while you may have taken the goods in question, it is also possible that you did not have the fraudulent intent required to be guilty of theft. A basic example of theft without intent would be if you accidentally walked out of a store with an item you did not pay for.

Colour of Right:

Another effective way to argue that did not have the intent required to be guilty of theft is to raise the defence of colour of right. Colour of right is a defence that can be raised when you believe that you had a proprietary or possessory right to the stolen item, when in reality you actually did not. Otherwise said, colour of right refers to a situation where if the facts that you believed to be true were true, you would not be guilty of theft.

An example of a colour of right defence would be where you took something because you honestly believed it was being lent to you. For example, you could take your friend’s car with the honest but mistaken belief that he was lending it to you, even though he was not. If you can provide a factual basis that shows that you honestly and reasonably believed in this particular state of affairs, you can use the defence of colour of right.

However, when raising colour of right as a defence, it is very important to note that the mistaken belief must be related to a mistaken understanding about the legal status of property, not your moral right to property. That is, you would not be justified in taking something because you were of the view that the person ‘owed you’ or that you were entitled to the property, so you decided to compensate yourself by taking it without consent.

You Had Title To The Goods In Question:

Because you need to take goods that belonged to someone else in order to be found guilty of theft, you may be able to defend your charges by showing that you had a proprietary or possessory interest in the item. Essentially, you cannot steal what is actually yours. However, even if you have a proprietary or possessory right in the good, if you take it from another person by fraudulent means, you could still be charged with theft. For example, you could not use the proprietary interest you have in your vehicle to steal it from an impound lot without paying a fee. If your car was legally towed and was impounded, you would still be legally required to pay a fee to recover your vehicle even though it is your property.


In the circumstances where your offence was not recorded, or the recording of the alleged offence is of dubious quality, you may be able to raise identity as a defence. That is, you can assert that you were not the person who commit the offence, and that the authorities made a mistake when identifying you as the perpetrator. In order to effectively raise this defence, it is important that you have some sort of corroborative evidence, for example, an alibi or evidence that suggests you could have not commit the offence because you were somewhere else at the time.

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Disclaimer: All results of cases handled by the lawyer/firm are not provided. The results provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the lawyer/firm or of the experience of all clients or others with the lawyer/firm. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.

All our 30-60 minute free consultations are conducted with one of our Criminal Defence Lawyers and include the following steps:

  1. Gathering of some personal information about you, such as your level of education, occupation, and citizenship status. This information can be crucial for building your defence and seeking a resolution with the Crown Prosecutor;
  2. Careful review of all documents you received from the police. We will explain what each document is, and what you can expect from and need to do for all upcoming appearances;
  3. Critical review of your recollection of events, and any supporting materials you choose to bring with you. This step helps us identify possible defences and avenues for further investigation; and
  4. Discussion of the court process, our fee structure, and what we can do to help.

Beyond these steps, we would be happy to tell you more about us, and answer any questions you may have. If you chose to retain us to help you, we will immediately provide an overview of what steps we plan to take next, and suggestions as to what you should do to improve your chances of a successful outcome.

For the free initial consultation to be as productive as possible, you should bring (or email in advance) the following materials:

  • A written statement (preferably typed) outlining your version of events;
  • All documents that you have been given by the court or by the police;
  • Any disclosure you have received;
  • Photo ID; and
  • Any supporting documents, such as photographs, emails, texts, phone records, medical records, receipts, etc.

Ideally, you will have prepared a copy of these materials for us to keep, but if not, we can always photocopy them during the consultation.

We offer flexible payment options and structures designed to meet our clients’ individual needs. Our lawyers accept all major credit cards, bank drafts, money orders, email money transfers (e-transfers) and, of course, cash.

If you decide to retain us after the free initial consultation, all we need is a retainer (down payment) to get started. The rest of the fee payments for the case can be spaced out over time. We can set you up on a monthly or bi-monthly payment plan, and process payments over the telephone or by email to make it easy for you.

The cost of a criminal defence lawyer will depend on several factors, including:

  1. how complex your case is,
  2. how serious the charges are, and
  3. how experienced the Criminal Defence lawyer is.

The fees of a competent Criminal Defence Lawyer will typically range into the thousands of dollars. The good news is that only a fraction of that amount is due initially. We offer flexible payment schedules so thefees can be paid in monthly installments.

Additionally, we offer flat rate fees, with no hidden costs. It is our standard practice to review all the costs during the free initial consultation. This means you will know exactly what our services cost at the outset and can make an informed decision about how to proceed.