Pursuant to section 343 of the Criminal Code of Canada there are 4 circumstances that would constitute an offence of robbery. A person commits robbery when he or she (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 the victim or the victim’s property, (2) steals from any person and prior to, during, or immediately afterwards wounds, beats, strikes or uses personal violence to the other person, (3) assaults a person with the intent of stealing from that person, or (4) steals from any person while armed with an offensive weapon or any imitation of an offensive weapon.
A threat of violence can be implied from a person’s actions, which would include any action taken by the accused that would lead the victim to reasonably believe that physical injury would result. The test is whether the actions and words of the accused could reasonably create a feeling of apprehension on the part of the victim. Handing a bank teller a note demanding money can constitute a threat and meet the requirements for robbery.
The act of violence or the threat of violence must be done prior to or contemporaneously with the theft. Where the violence or threat of violence occurred after having fled the scene, then the offence of robbery cannot be proven.
With respect to circumstances where an accused person is alleged to have committed a robbery while armed with an offensive weapon, it is not necessary that the accused used or intended to use the weapon in any manner, only that he or she was in possession of the weapon during the course of the robbery.
Robbery is very serious offence under the Criminal Code, and one that attracts a term of imprisonment in almost every circumstance. The general consensus among our courts is that the starting point in terms of a penalty for a conviction of robbery is between 2 and 3 years imprisonment. Neither a discharge nor a conditional sentence is available upon a conviction for robbery.
Robbery is a strictly indictable offence and in certain circumstances the offence carries a minimum sentence. For example, where a firearm is used in the course of a robbery, any person convicted of robbery is subject to a minimum penalty of 4 years imprisonment and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. In circumstances where a firearm was used in the course of a robbery, a person is not subject to a mandatory minimum penalty; however he or she is still liable to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
If a robbery was committed where either a restricted or prohibited firearm was used, or if a robbery was committed where any firearm was used and the robbery was committed for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization the mandatory minimum penalty is a term of imprisonment of 5 years for a first offence, and a minimum term of imprisonment of 7 years for a second or subsequent offence.
Any conviction for robbery also carries a mandatory firearms order under s. 109, a mandatory weapons forfeiture order under s. 491, and the Crown Attorney may apply for a proceeds of crime forfeiture order under s. 462.37.