Lawyer for Robbery and Extortion
In Canada, police reported approximately 21,000 robberies in 2014.
Robbery can mean everything from punching a person on the street and taking their wallet or cell phone, to robbing a taxi driver or storeowner, to a full-blown bank heist.
What is Robbery?
Whenever force, or the threat of force, coincides with taking property or attempting to take property from another person, a robbery allegation can be made.
According to the Criminal Code of Canada, one commits robbery in the following circumstances:
1. 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;
2. 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;
3. assaults any person with intent to steal from him; or
4. steals from any person while armed with an offensive weapon or imitation thereof
5. Given that robbery is deemed a violent offence, the Crown will often seek your detention pending trial if you are facing a robbery allegation. The Crown may also seek a custodial sentence.
Trial and Punishment
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, Robbery is deemed one of the more serious offences. Given that it is a straight indictable offence, you will have the right to a trial in the Superior Court of Justice, and you may exercise your right to be tried by a jury. If you are found guilty, the charge of Robbery is punishable by a sentence of up to life in prison.
There are many factors that will exacerbate the severity of a Robbery allegation, including, but not limited to, an offender’s age and criminal record. Other factors are:
1. The use of any weapons;
2. The degree of violence used;
3. Any injuries that were caused to the complainant;
4. The vulnerability of the complainant;
5. The value of the stolen property, etc.
Other Repercussions of a Robbery Conviction
A conviction resulting in jail time in a Robbery case is often just the tip of the iceberg. An individual charged will potentially face many other consequences, including:
1. Job loss, or ineligibility to work in certain professional fields;
2. Immigration issues;
3. Travel limitations;
4. Risk of being exposed publically through the media, etc.; and
5. Embarrassment to family, friends, etc
If you or someone you know has been charged with Robbery, do not delay. Please call Lawyer Plug today at 647-490-7660 . We have represented countless cases of Robbery and have the experience, track record and expertise to ensure your representation is of the highest quality.
Robbery may be committed in several ways, but generally involves taking or the intended taking of another individual’s property without their permission while using or threatening to use violence, weapons or both.
Extortion generally involves trying to obtain something through the unreasonable and unjustified use of threats or violence against another individual.
Robbery and Extortion charges are serious and should be addressed by a lawyer as soon as you become aware of the fact that you have been charged or are under investigation. While the sentence for a robbery or extortion conviction will depend on the circumstances of each individual case, a conviction for any criminal offence will result in a criminal record, which can negatively impact many areas of your life including your reputation, your ability to maintain or obtain employment, and your ability to travel to other countries like the United States. In addition, a conviction for these offences may carry other penalties, including a potentially lengthy term of imprisonment.
What is Extortion?
Extortion is broad and covers a number of possible conducts. Section 346(1) includes successful acts to extort and also attempts to extort. The elements that make up the offence are:
- A threat, accusation, menace or violence;
- That induces or attempts to induce any person (does not have to be the person threatened, accused, menaced or to whom violence is shown);
- To do anything or cause anything to be done;
- The threat, accusation, menace or violence must have been made without reasonable justification or excuse;
- The person must have made the threat, accusation, menace or violence with the intent of obtaining something.
What does the Crown need to prove for a Conviction of Extortion?
For the Crown to prove their case, they need to prove all elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. The Crown needs to prove that the accused person committed the guilty act. The Crown needs to show that the accused person made a threat or accusation, or used violence or menace. The Crown needs to show that conduct induced or attempted to induce any person to do anything or cause anything to be done.
The Crown must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person intended to obtain something as a result of his/her conduct and that he did so without reasonable excuse or justification.
What does an attempt to obtain “Anything” mean?
Section 346 of the Criminal Code criminalizes attempts by the accused to obtain “anything” by unreasonable threats. The Supreme Court of Canada has said that the word “anything” must be interpreted broadly: it should be given a wide, unrestricted application.
What counts as a “Threat” under Section 346?
One of the acts that may ground an extortion charge is a “threat” made by the accused. It is important that the Crown proves a threat was actually made.
Section 346(2) of the Criminal Code sets out that the extortion provisions apply to all threats, except a threat to institute civil proceedings. Threats to institute civil proceedings are not threats for the purposes of this section. They are the only kind of threat that is statutorily excluded from grounding an extortion charge.
The Supreme Court of Canada has said that a threat for the purposes of this section does not need to be a threat that is otherwise unlawful. For example, the Ontario Court of Appeal found an individual guilty of extortion for threatening to send a letter to someone’s employer alleging they were involved in “highly questionable ethical and moral conduct.” While sending such a letter would not be a criminal offence itself, the court still found the accused guilty of extortion.
The type of threat needed for the offence of extortion depends on the circumstances. Every case will turn on its own facts. However, threats of violence will never be justified. The only safe type of threat that can be made without extortion charges arising is a threat to institute civil proceedings.
What is Reasonable Justification or Excuse?
Section 346 of the Criminal Code sets out that for an act to constitute extortion it must be done without reasonable justification or excuse. Therefore, if the accused person is able to show he or she acted with reasonable justification or excuse, then there will be no conviction.
The Supreme Court of Canada has said that even if the accused thought he was entitled to the thing demanded, that is not a reasonable justification or excuse to make a threat that would otherwise be unlawful.
The phrase “reasonable justification or excuse” requires a fact-specific inquiry to determine if it has been made out in a particular case.
What are some of the Penalties for a Conviction of Extortion?
Penalties for a conviction of extortion will vary depending on the specific circumstances of the offence, the characteristics of the offender and the presence of any aggravating or mitigating factors.
Section 346(1.1) of the Criminal Code sets out that extortion is an indictable offence and a conviction of extortion can result in a penalty of up to life imprisonment.
What if a Firearm is used during the Commission of Extortion?
If a firearm is used during the commission of extortion, there are mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment, in addition to the maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
If a firearm is used during the commission of the offence and the offence is committed for the benefit or in association with a criminal organization there is a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of five years in the first case; and seven years for any subsequent offences.
If any other case where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, there is a minimum punishment for a term of four years.
What are some Defences to Extortion?
The availability of criminal defences will vary depending on the circumstances of the offence and the characteristics of the offender.
One defence provided by Section 346 of the Criminal Code is that the accused could try to argue the act was done with reasonable justification or excuse. Therefore, even if the elements of the guilty act are made out and the accused is found to have committed an act that could be extortion, he or she could avoid criminal liability if it is found the offence was done with a reasonable justification or excuse.
However, the circumstances of each case are different and it is important to canvas the relevant facts with a lawyer to determine what defence(s) could be available to you.
Now is not the time to delay! Your reputation, future, and freedom are too important. In all cases, you are well advised to immediately speak with Lawyer Plug so we can evaluate your case, get your side of the story, and relentlessly defend you against your charges. You can also contact one of our lawyer Christopher De Giorgio for traffic act charges and provincial offences.