Proof of Ownership

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General Principles

Under s. 380, "property" does not relate to ownership. It concerns the lawful possession of some thing which is transferred by some deceitful act.[1]

  1. R v Vallillee (1974), 1974 CanLII 687 (ON CA), 15 CCC (2d) 409 (CA) - accused rented a car using stolen ID and Credit Card

Certificate of Ownership Under Section 491.2

Eligible Offences

Any property that is required for a preliminary inquiry or trial for an offence under section 334, 344, 348, 354, 355.2, 355.4, 362 or 380 that has been returned, may by photographed by police.[1]

Those offences consist of:


Photograph "includes a still photograph, a photographic film or plate, a microphotographic film, a photostatic negative, and X-ray film, a motion picture and a videotape." (491.2 (8))

Photographs taken under s. 491.2 that are accompanied by a certificate containing the statements are admissible with the same "probative force" as the property was proved the ordinary way absence evidence to the contrary. (491.2(2))

Elements of Certificate

Under s. 491.2(3), the certificate should contain a statement outlining that:

  1. the person took the photograph under the authority of 491.2(1)
  2. the person is a peace officer or took the photograph under the direction of a peace officer, and
  3. the photograph is a true photograph

There must also be an affidavit or solemn declaration that "the property was not altered in any manner before the photograph". (491.2(4))

Supporting Affidavit
Under s. 657.1, evidence regarding the property, such as value and ownership, can be given by way of affidavit or solemn affirmation from the lawful owner absent evidence to the contrary.

The affidavit must state:

  1. that the person is the lawful owner of, or is lawfully entitled to possession of, the property, or otherwise has specialized knowledge of the property or of property of the same type as that property;
  2. the value of the property;
  3. in the case of a person who is the lawful owner of or is lawfully entitled to possession of the property, that the person has been deprived of the property by fraudulent means or otherwise without the lawful consent of the person;
  4. in the case of proceedings in respect of an offence under section 342, that the credit card had been revoked or cancelled, is a false document within the meaning of section 321 or that no credit card that meets the exact description of that credit card was ever issued; and
  5. any facts within the personal knowledge of the person relied on to justify the statements referred to in paragraphs (a) to (c.1).

The Crown must give "reasonable notice of intention to produce it in evidence" before any photos can be admitted into evidence "unless the court orders otherwise". (491.2 (5))

Parties must be given "reasonable notice of intention to produce" this evidence by affidavit.(657.1(3)) The court may still order that the affiant attend court to be examined.

The Court may require the attendance of the officers who gave the statements for examination. (491.2(6)) The court may also require the returned property be re-acquired to be brought to court for examination. (491.2(7))

See also rules of civil procedure in proving exhibits.

588. The real and personal property of which a person has, by law, the management, control or custody shall, for the purposes of an indictment or proceeding against any other person for an offence committed on or in respect of the property, be deemed to be the property of the person who has the management, control or custody of it.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 517.


Proof of ownership in a charge of possession of stolen property only requires the Crown to prove that ownership exists in some person "other than the accused".[1]

  1. R v McDowell, 1970 CanLII 501 (ON CA), [1970] 5 CCC 374 (Ont. CA) at p. 376
    a charge will be sufficient if it identifies "property of person or persons unknown at the present time" (see R v Halliday (1975), 25 CCC (2d) 131 (NSCA)(*no link))

See Also