The offence of robbery is outlined in section 343 of the Criminal Code.
A person commits the offence of robbery when they:
- steal something using violence or threats of violence to prevent resistance or extort whatever is stolen;
- when they wound or use violence against the person they are stealing from before or after stealing from them;
- when they assault someone with the intent to steal from them; or
- when they steal from someone while armed with a weapon or imitation weapon.
Person A steals money from person B while threatening to harm person B if person B tries to stop person A from taking the money.
Person C steals person D’s dog and kicks person D in the head after grabbing the dog.
Person E uses an imitation gun to steal money from a gas station.
Person F brandishes a gun while stealing the purse of a woman sitting inside a bus stop.
R. v. Gomes, 2011 ONSC 1808
In R. v. Gomes, the accused was charged with one count of robbery when he took money from the victim’s hand after the victim had withdrawn the money from an ATM. He then pointed a gun at the victim when the victim tried to follow the him, telling the victim to stop following him.
R. v. Lawrence, 2020 ONCA 841
In R. v. Lawrence, the accused was convicted of one count of robbery when he broke into the victim’s home at night and then beat and tied up the victim so that he could ransack his home, leaving with some cannabis, jewellery, the victim’s backpack, and cash.
R. v. Manley, 2011 ONCA 128
In R. v. Manley, the accused was convicted of two counts of robbery when he stole from a Mr. Sub restaurant holding a knife and gun and then stole from a music store holding a shotgun.
Offence Specific Defence(s)
Colour of Right
Where no theft occurs, the person will not have completed the offence of robbery by applying force, threatening to apply force, being violent, threatening violence towards another, or carrying a weapon or imitation weapon. There is no theft where a person has colour of right, meaning a legal right, to an item. If a person owns an item, they have colour of right in that item. If an individual genuinely believes they have colour of right in something, they lack the necessary intent to be convicted of robbery.
It should be noted that where an individual uses violence or threats to take back their own property, they may have committed an assault offence.
For example, where person A see’s person B cutting the lock off person A’s bike. Person A approaches and attacks person B then takes the bike and rides away. Person A has not completed the offence of robbery because the bike belongs to person A. Person A may, however, be guilty of an assault offence.
Lack of Intent to Steal
Where no theft occurs, the person will not have completed the offence of robbery by applying force, threatening to apply force, being violent, threatening violence towards another, or carrying a weapon or imitation weapon. There is no theft where the person lacks the intention to steal, so where the person lacks the intention to steal, they may not have completed the offence of robbery. They may, however, be guilty of an assault offence.
For example, if person A is violent towards person B without intending to take anything from person B, they may not have completed the offence of robbery.
No Weapon, Violence or Threats
Where the person is not carrying a weapon or imitation weapon and does not use or threaten violence when they are stealing something from another person, they may not have completed the offence of robbery. They, however, have likely committed a theft offence.