Property offences include a variety offences that relate to property, including: breaking and entering, theft, mischief, fraud, trespassing at night, and arson.
If you have been charged with a property offence, you are not alone. In 2016, there were 319,775 police-reported property offences in Ontario. This includes almost 39,929 incidents of breaking and entering, 176,783 incidents of theft, and 52,103 incidents of mischief. Within theft, there was 17,223 incidents of theft of a motor vehicle, 4,539 incidents of theft of money or an item valued over $5,000, and 155,021 incidents of theft of money or an item valued under $5,000.
Just because you have been charged, does no mean you will be found guilty. In 2014/2015 there were 15,928 findings of guilt for property offences – compare this to the 319,775 reported offences in 2016. You can greatly increase your chances of being one of those charged who are not found guilty by hiring one of our skilled criminal defence lawyers. Indeed, the vast majority of our cases result in a positive result for our client.
Depending on the type of property offence you have been charged with, the investigation conducted by police differs. For a shoplifting (theft under $5,000) offence, police may not have conducted an investigation at all, rather the investigation was conducted almost entirely by a Loss Prevention Officer (LPO). An LPO is a privately-hired security guard, and may operate undercover, meaning he or she appears as a regular shopper. The LPO may have arrested you and detained you prior to police arriving. When the police did arrive, they may have provided you with an opportunity to speak to a lawyer.
For one of the more serious property offences, police likely conducted a more extensive investigation prior to your arrest. For a breaking and entering or theft over $5,000 offence, police likely consulted surveillance footage along with interviewing potential witnesses. For a fraud offence, police likely interviewed potential witness, and may have consulted financial documents produced by a bank. Once you were arrested, police likely asked you for a statement, but before making a statement you had the right to speak to a lawyer.
If you decided not to call a lawyer before making a statement to police, or did not like the advice the lawyer gave you on the phone, it’s not too late. Contact one of our skilled criminal defence lawyers to determine your best defence.
Your best defence depends on the severity of the charge. If you have been charged with a less serious property offence in the Greater Toronto Area, such as shoplifting (theft under $5,000), you may be eligible for the Alternative Measures Program (AMP). This program requires you to do some community service in exchange for the Crown prosecutor withdrawing the charges. One of our skilled criminal defence lawyers can assist in determining whether AMP is an attainable and desirable resolution in your case.
If you have been charged with a serious property offence in the Greater Toronto Area, it may be in your best interest to go to trial. Proving that you committed the offence in question may be quite difficult. For example, if you are charged with fraud over $5,000, it must be proven that you deprived a person of money or something valued over $5,000, and that you deprived this person of that value by deceit. During the investigation, if the police violated your Charter rights, evidence can be excluded – making the Crown prosecutor’s job even harder. One of our skilled criminal defence lawyers can review the evidence in your case and assess your chances at trial.
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