While it is common to hear people use the terms robbery and theft used interchangeably, the crime of robbery is actually theft combined with the use of violence or threat of violence. In order to convict for robbery, the Crown must prove both that a person stole or intended to steal and that either of the offences of assault or uttering threats was used to accomplish the theft. In fact, in a robbery prosecution, if the Crown fails to prove either of the separate offences that make up the robbery charge,a person can still be found guilty of an included offence the Crown was able to prove.
The Criminal Code includes four different scenarios that can be robbery. The first is when a person accomplishes theft by using violence or threatening to use violence against a person or property. In this instance, the violence or threat of violence must be the means by which the item is stolen. Typical examples of this would be saying, “give me your money or I’ll shoot,” or beating someone up to take their wallet.
The second is when a person uses violence immediately before, during or after stealing from the victim of the assault. Unlike the first scenario, the violence in these cases is not committed for the purpose of theft, but rather a theft occurs along with an assault.
Third, it is still robbery where violence or the threat of violence is used with the intention of stealing, but no stealing occurs. Typically in these cases, the victim manages to escape or a third party steps in to stop the theft from occurring.
The final way the Criminal Code defines robbery is stealing while armed with an offensive weapon, such as a firearm, or an imitation of an offensive weapon. It is important to note that the weapon does not have to be used or even shown to the victim; just having it on you is enough. There have been many cases of robbery where the police arrest someone simply for theft and during a search find a weapon on their person.
Robbery is a serious charge with grave consequences. The maximum punishment for robbery is life imprisonment. In cases involving the use of firearms, there is a minimum sentence of four years imprisonment. No matter what the specifics of your case are, speaking with a lawyer can help you to understand what options may be available.