Theft, Robbery, Break and Enter

If you or a loved one has been charged with theft, robbery, or breaking and entering (B&E), there is hope. You should contact a criminal defence lawyer immediately to discuss your case.

It would be best to have someone who specializes in theft, robbery, and B&E in your corner and who is ready to stand up for your rights in court. Did you know that theft and robbery differ from break and entry and have differing sentences if you are found guilty? There are even different levels of theft, robbery, and B&E, with varying penalties. We'll outline each here, and with a consultation with the legal team at Brett Gladstone Law Corp., your options will be discussed and a possible action plan created.

What Is Considered Theft in Canada?

In Canada, the crime of theft is categorized into:

  1. 1
    Theft under $5,000
  2. 2
    Theft over $5,000

Theft under $5000

Theft under $5,000 typically involves shoplifting as some people may put an object in a pocket, under clothes, in their bag, etc. This offence could have been at a store, a business, or someone's home. But whatever was stolen was under $5,000 in value.

This criminal charge is considered a hybrid offence that can be deemed an indictable or summary conviction. It all depends on the nature of the theft, but the punishment can be up to two years in prison if it is indicted.
If the Crown decides to pursue the charge summarily, then the maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine and/or six months in prison.

Theft over $5,000

For theft over $5,000, it is an indictable offence with a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in jail. This is a serious offence. When arrested, you will not be released and must have a bail hearing within 24 hours before a justice of the peace. Then, it will be determined whether or not you will be released while you await trial.

What will occur depends greatly on a person's prior convictions and records. It is unlikely that a person charged with this offence will receive bail. Here is where it is good to have a criminal defence lawyer at your bail hearing.
A legal defence team can help you reduce your charges. If the crime is complicated by other offences, such as robbery or fraud, a great lawyer will help you wade through the particulars of Canada's justice system.

What Is Robbery in Canada?

You may think that robbery and theft are pretty much the same since both involve stealing from another person. But what makes them different is that robbery involves the use of force, and theft doesn't. For instance, robbery covers a range of offences that could involve assaulting someone to steal their wallet, or robbing a jewelry store with a weapon.

According to the Criminal Code of Canada, a person commits robbery when they:
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • assaults any person with the intent to steal from him; or
  • steals from any person while armed with an offensive weapon or imitation thereof.

This is a very serious offence, and it is an indictable offence that is likely to end in imprisonment for life. A highly trained criminal defence lawyer may make all the difference in your sentencing. At Brett Gladstone Law Corp., we have the knowledge and are fully determined to see your charges thrown out of court.

What Classifies as Break and Enter?

Breaking and entering is an indictable offence that can be punishable for up to life in a federal prison. If you are a first-time offender, you will still likely get a sentence with some jail time and have a criminal record. But the severity can depend on how well you are supported by your legal team in court. Nothing, like a building window or door, must be broken to enter a home or business. The one committing may even have the key, but it is still considered break and enter if the entry is unlawful.

According to the Criminal Code of Canada, breaking and entering is:

348 (1) Everyone who

  • breaks and enters a place with intent to commit an indictable offence therein,
  • breaks and enters a place and commits an indictable offence therein, or
  • breaks out of a place after
  • committing an indictable offence therein, or
  • entering the place with intent to commit an indictable offence therein
When they speak of an indictable offence, these can be:
  • Theft under and over $5,000
  • Mischief under and over $5,000
  • Any form of assault (with a weapon, sexual, or aggravated assault)
  • Robbery
  • Uttering threats
  • Arson

Overall, breaking and entering charges can be hard to prove in court due to a lack of sufficient evidence. Fingerprinting is only so useful, and without video or photographic proof, there is often insufficient evidence to charge an individual successfully.
However, no matter what crime is committed, there must be the intent to commit an illegal act when entering the dwelling or commercial property.

If someone has mistakenly entered an area but did not intend to commit a crime, this does not necessarily count as an indictable offence.
That's why hiring a criminal defence lawyer right away is crucial. You could conceivably turn a potential civil suit into a criminal case if you say the wrong thing in front of the police. Make sure you use your right to remain silent. Your case can be defendable as long as the accused does not admit to the B&E.

Breaking and Entering Into a Dwelling

If you commit a B&E in a house, apartment, trailer, etc., you can face a maximum sentence of life in prison. However, the lowest punishment can be a suspended sentence with probation. Unfortunately, even first-time offenders receive some amount of jail time if found guilty.

Most of these forms of break and enter are domestic in nature. Often there is a dispute between individuals in joint living situations who have separated and then illegally access their former residence to take an item they believe should be theirs, or to destroy some of the victim's property. Even if this is a domestic offence, the accused still can face up to life in prison.

If people are in the dwelling, that is considered a home invasion and is treated as a much more serious offence, often leading to longer prison times.

Breaking and Entering Into a Workplace or Commercial Property

Committing a B&E at a workplace or commercial property often involves a dispute involving employees or between business associates. And things such as cash, sensitive documents, and equipment are usually taken from the building. This often leads to longer jail sentences as the employer/employee's breach of trust is broken.

Being charged and found guilty of this crime can lead to a prison sentence of 10 years. But depending on your individual case, even sentences ranging from six months to four years can occur if the accused is a first-time offender.

Our Defence

When defending cases, be they theft, robbery, or break and enter, we will help determine whether or not the accused had the right to enter the property. In some cases, the accused had the right to enter the dwelling or commercial property. It may be hard to prove that the accused was performing an illegal action.

Secondly, though they may have proved that the entry was lawful, they have to prove that there was an intent to commit an indictable offence (as listed above). The case can often be closed if they cannot prove this intent. But either way, you need actionable advice that will be the best for your particular case.

The Next Steps

As each case has its own complications, you need someone well-versed in these charges, which will provide you with the backing and information you need to have a successful defence in court. Our team at Brett Gladstone Law Corp. offers affordable legal representation that will do everything in our power to get the Crown to drop or reduce the charges, or win an acquittal at trial.

If you have been released on bail, you should contact a criminal defence lawyer in Winnipeg, like Brett Gladstone Law Corp. You want a lawyer to start working on your defence as soon as possible. In a consultation, we will listen to your side of the events, review the charges you have been accused of, and let you know what we can do for you. From there, it is your decision how to proceed, knowing that you have legal representation with your best interests in mind.

Contact Brett Gladstone today for criminal legal representation in Manitoba.


What are the different types of theft charges?

Theft can range from a break and entry to the theft of a vehicle. Other charges which can fall under this category are fraud, shoplifting, identity theft, or taking the property of a friend, stranger, or family member without their consent.

The charge of theft is divided into two categories: crimes under $5,000 and theft over $5,000. Theft charges under $5,000 are considered petty theft, and crimes over $5,000 are considered grand larceny. Each has its own individual punishments.

What are the potential penalties for theft and break & entry?

For theft over $5,000, if deemed an indictable offence, the maximum penalty you can receive is up to 10 years in prison. For a summary offence you can face two years imprisonment less a day. For theft under $5,000, it can be either an indictable or summary offence where both can last six months up to two years less a day of imprisonment, or a $2,000 fine.

What are possible defences for theft/break & entry charges?

There are three common defences used in theft and break and entry charges. These include:

  • You owned the property – Since you cannot steal what is yours, this is a strong defence. Especially if you have documentation stating the item in question is yours. However, you cannot acquire the item by fraud.
  • Identity – If there is surveillance footage that isn’t clear enough, you can argue that it wasn’t you. But establish an alibi for the time of the offence to help protect your interests.
  • No mens rea/actus reus – This defence is when you accidentally walk out of a store with the goods, not intending to steal them.
  • Violation of constitutional rights – This refers to how well the police treated you. If they impinged on your rights, it could help your defence immensely.
  • Colour of right – This defense can be quite effective if you truly believe you have a lawful right to the property. For example, if you get loaned a car by a friend, but they change their mind and want you to return it, you may successfully use this defence.

Can I be charged with theft if I didn’t intend to keep the stolen property?

Yes. This has become more of an issue due to online classifieds where you do not know how the object was obtained. For example, you may have bought a tv online, but if it was stolen property you can still be liable.

Can I be charged with breaking and entering if I was permitted to enter?

That depends on whether or not you intended to or did commit an indictable offence when entering a dwelling, store, or other structure. Even if that was not your intent, you could still be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada as a different offence.

What is the difference between grand theft and petty theft?

In the eyes of Canada’s laws, petty theft involves crimes where less than $5,000 was stolen. Grand larceny or grand theft occurs when the objects stolen are more than $5,000.

Can I be charged with theft for stealing something that was abandoned?

If you come across an abandoned object with no owner, there is no theft crime committed in the eyes of the law since deprivation to a victim has not occurred.

Can I be charged with break and enter if I entered a property by mistake?

If your legal team can prove that you broke and entered a property by mistake, you may not be charged for the offence. But keep in mind that theft and B&Es are serious crimes with sentences that can seriously disrupt your life. That’s why you need a legal team that has your best interests in mind.

Need some legal assistance? Let’s have a chat!

Call or send us a message and one of or criminal lawyers will get back to you ASAP.

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