Property Offences in Victoria
In Victoria, property offences are commonly prosecuted crimes. In 2017, Statistics Canada indicates nearly 500 thefts of motor vehicles and over 1,000 instances of breaking and entering occured in Victoria alone. Other common property offences that regularly occur in Victoria include crimes like theft over and under $5000, mischief, fraud and possession of stolen property. When you are found guilty of a property offence you are potentially facing a harsh penalty as the frequency of these offences is increasing and prosecution services across the province are prioritizing general deterrence for this type of file.
The Investigation of Property Offences in Victoria
The way a property offence investigation is conducted depends heavily on the nature of the offence. For example, most theft charges in Victoria stem from shoplifting incidents that are caught by loss prevention officers. The loss prevention officer will often capture you on camera stealing goods from a store and will report you to the Victoria Police Department. For other offences like break and enter or mischief, there might be eyewitness testimony coupled with either direct or circumstantial evidence. If you are not caught directly in the act, but the police later gain grounds to believe you are guilty of a property offence, you can expect that a warrant for your arrest will be issued and that you will be brought into custody if found.
For property offences like fraud, false pretences, credit card fraud and counterfeiting, the Fraud Prevention Team of the VPD will handle your investigation. This is a team of specially trained, highly sophisticated investigators that can work in partnership with other entities like the Canadian Bankers Association, Interac, RCMP Commercial Crime Section, Fintrac and other agencies to help gather evidence of your offence. These types of prosecutions can become incredibly complex, so if you think you might be charged with a property offence of a similar nature, contact one of the experienced Criminal Defence lawyers at our Victoria office immediately.
Bail Conditions for Property Offences in Victoria
Depending on what type of property offence you have been arrested for, you could have a higher or lower likelihood of being held in custody prior to your trial. For less serious offences like mischief or theft under $5000, it is typically the case that the police will release you shortly after your arrest. However, you will be released on conditions with which you must comply. Typically the conditions will prevent you from returning to the scene of the crime, to attend court as required, and to attend a police station for fingerprinting. Your release form will typically provide a date and time that you are to attend the Victoria Police Headquarters (located at 850 Caledonia Ave,Victoria) for fingerprinting.
If you fail to appear anywhere as directed, or if you fail to comply with any of the conditions of your release, you will be charged with a new and separate criminal offence. For less serious crimes like shoplifting and other instances of theft under $5000, your first appearance in Court will often be at a docket courtroom like courtroom 101. If you have not retained a lawyer by the date of your first appearance, simply attend the Court room and request that your matter is adjourned for two to three weeks so that you may seek legal counsel. After making your adjournment, contact one of the criminal defence lawyers at our firm as soon as possible. We will take over all other minor appearances for you, and will be able to immediately begin working to resolve your matter in the most favorable manner possible.
If you have been charged with a more serious crime like breaking and entering or arson, you can expect that the Crown will seek to keep you in custody at the The Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre (VIRCC) until you are tried for the offence. However, simply because the Crown opposes your release, does not mean that you will absolutely remain in jail until trial.
You will typically be given a bail hearing within the first 24 hours of being held in custody. When it is your turn for a hearing, the police will bring you before a justice of the peace. There are no judges or members of the public present at these hearings, and you appear before the justice of the peace over CCTV or over the phone. You can also wait until the courthouse opens where you can appear before a judge to have a bail hearing. In order to facilitate your release as quickly as possible, make sure you have a criminal defence lawyer present at your hearing. We will make submissions on your behalf and ensure that you spend the least amount of time in custody possible. To see some of the factors that are considered when the court is determining whether a person should be let out on bail, please visit our page on Bail Hearings, or read the Bail section of our FAQ.
Defending Property Offences in Victoria
In many cases, it might seem as though the evidence against you is too strong for you to have any hope of escaping conviction. However, even in cases where the evidence is clearly against you, there may still be a chance that you can avoid a criminal record.
For example, if you have been charged with theft or fraud under $5000, one of our criminal defence lawyers may be able to negotiate with the Crown prosecutor and obtain a pre-trial resolution that will allow you to avoid a criminal record. Some resolutions that will allow you to avoid a criminal record include the Alternative Measures Program or Mental Health Diversion. If you are diverted into either one of these programs, once you have finished all that is required by the program the Crown will withdraw the charges against you. Alternatively, if you do not qualify, we might still be able to make an in-court application for a Conditional or Absolute Discharge. If granted a discharge, you will not receive a criminal record for the offence. To find out more about the types of resolutions that might be available to you, please visit our Resolutions and FAQ pages.