Theft of Cattle
The offence of cattle of cattle is outlined in section 338(1) of the Criminal Code.
A person commits the offence of theft of cattle when they take, hold, keep, conceal, receive, appropriate, purchase, or sell cattle found astray without the cattle owner’s consent. A person also commits the offence of theft of cattle when they partially or completely obliterate, alter, or deface a brand or mark on cattle, or when they make a false or counterfeit brand or mark on cattle.
Person A finds some cattle, which belong to person B, wandering unsupervised in a field far from person B’s land. Person A decides to take the cattle to their own land and keep them.
Person C sneaks onto person D’s farm at night, herds up four of person D’s cows into their truck and takes them home. Person C then removes all the identifying marks person D has made on these cows.
Person E puts their own brand onto person F’s largest cow so that person E can claim it as their own.
R. v. Deck, 2014 SKCA 44
In R. v. Deck, the accused was charged with theft of cattle when he sold ten heifers belonging to his neighbour after removing his neighbour’s tags from them and replacing them with his own.
Offence Specific Defence(s)
Where the person is taking, holding, keeping, concealing, receiving, appropriating, purchasing, or selling something other than cattle, have not completed the offence of theft of cattle. They have, however, likely completed another theft offence.
Consent of Owner
Where the person has the owner’s consent to take, hold, keep, conceal, receive, appropriate, purchase, or sell their cattle, or to make, obliterate, alter, or deface a brand or mark on cattle, they have not completed the offence of theft of cattle.
Lack of Intention
Where the person lacks the intention to steal, they may not have completed the offence of theft of cattle.
For example, if person A sees a cow stuck in a ditch and in helping the cow out of the ditch accidentally removes the tag identifying the cow.
Colour of Right
Colour of right refers to a person’s legal right to something. If a person owns a horse, for example, they have colour of right in the horse. If an individual genuinely believes they have colour of right in cattle, they lack the necessary intent to be convicted of theft of cattle.
For example, if person A genuinely believes that person B had sold them ten cows and takes those ten cows from person B’s property, person A may not have completed the offence of theft of cattle.