|s. 344 of the Crim. Code|
|Election / Plea|
Sup. Court w/ Jury (*)
|Minimum||4, 5, or 7 years incarceration|
Offences relating to robbery are found in Part IX of the Criminal Code relating to "Offences Against Rights of Property".
|Crown Election||Defence Election
|s. 344 [robbery]||Indictable Offence(s)||(life max)|
Offences under s. 344 [robbery] are straight indictable. There is a Defence election of Court under s. 536(2) to trial to trial in provincial court, superior court with a judge-alone (with or without a preliminary inquiry) or superior court with judge-and-jury (with or without a preliminary inquiry).
Before the statutory increased penalties can be applied for convictions under s. 344 [robbery], notice of increased penalty under s. 727 must be given.
by Peace Officer
by Judge or Justice
s. 508(1), 512(1), or 788
s. 498, 499, and 501
a Judge or Justice
on a Release Order
s. 515 to 519
|Direct to Attend |
for Fingerprints, etc.
Identification of Criminals Act
s. 2 ID Crim. Act
|s. 344 [robbery]|
When charged under s. 344 [robbery], the accused can be given a judicial summons without arrest. If arrested, he can be released by the arresting officer under s. 498 or 499 on an undertaking with or without conditions. He can also be released by a justice under s. 515.
Under s. 515(6)(a)(vii), offences charged under s. 344 have a reverse onus on bail where they were "committed with a firearm".
- Reverse Onus Bail
If police decide to bring the accused before a Justice pursuant to s. 503, there will be a presumption against bail (i.e. a reverse onus) if the offence, prosecuted by indictment, was committed:
- while at large under s. 515 [bail release], 679 or 680 [release pending appeal or review of appeal] (s. 515(6)(a)(i));
- "for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association" with a criminal organization (s. 515(6)(a)(ii));
- where the offence involved a firearm, cross-bow, prohibited weapon restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or explosive substance, while the accused was subject to a prohibition order preventing possession of these items (s. 515(6)(a)(viii)); or
- where the accused is not "ordinarily a resident in Canada" (s. 515(6)(b)).
- Fingerprints and Photos
A peace officer who charges a person under s. 344 [robbery] of the Code can require that person to attend for the taking of fingerprints, photographs or other similar recordings that are used to identify them under the Identification of Criminals Act.
- Publication Bans
For all criminal or regulatory prosecutions, there is a discretionary general publication ban available on application of the Crown, victim or witness to prohibit the publishing of "any information that could identify the victim or witness" under s. 486.5(1) where it is "necessary" for the "proper administration of justice". Other available publication bans include prohibitions for publishing evidence or other information arising from a bail hearing (s. 517), preliminary inquiry (s. 539) or jury trial (s. 648). There is a mandatory publication ban in all youth prosecutions on information tending to identify young accused under s. 110 of the YCJA or young victims under s. 111 of the YCJA.
- Offence Designations
|AG Consent Required||Serious Criminality|
s. 36 IRPA
|s. 98.1 [robbery to steal firearm]|
|s. 344 [robbery]||(*req type of violence)|
Offences under s. 344 [robbery] are designated offences eligible for wiretap under s. 183.
Offences under s. 98.1 and 344 [robbery] are "designated" offences under s. 752 for dangerous offender applications.
Offences under s. 98.1 and 344 [robbery] are designated "serious personal injury" offences under s. 752(a) only if it has a maximum penalty of 10 years incarceration or more and involves "use or attempted use of violence against another person" or "conduct endangering or likely to endanger the life or safety of another person or inflicting or likely to inflict severe psychological damage on another person".
See below in Ancillary Sentencing Orders for details on designations relating to sentencing orders.
Draft Form of Charges
|"THAT [accused full name] stands charged that, between the <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR> and <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR>***, at or near <COMMUNITY/TOWN/CITY>, <PROVINCE>, he [or she]..." OR|
|"THAT [accused full name] stands charged that, on or about the <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR>, at or near <COMMUNITY/TOWN/CITY>, <PROVINCE>, he [or she]..." OR|
|"AND FURTHER at the same time and place aforesaid, he [or she]..."|
|Code Section||Subject of Offence||Draft Wording|
|343(a)||robbery||"...did steal [description of stolen property] from [alleged victim] and [", for the purpose of extorting what was stolen," or ", to prevent or overcome resistance to the stealing,"] used ["threats of"] violence and thereby commit robbery contrary to section 343(a) of the Criminal Code." |
|343(b)||robbery||"...did steal [description of stolen property] from [alleged victim] and immediately before or immediately thereafter did wound, beat, strike or use personal violence on that person and did thereby commit robbery contrary to section 343(a) of the Criminal Code." |
Proof of the Offence
There are four different ways that a Robbery can be committed.
Proving robbery (violence to extort or overcome resistance) under s. 343(a) should include:
Proving robbery (personal violence at or near time of theft) under s. 343(b) should include:
Proving robbery (assault with intent to steal under s. 343(c) should include:
Proving robbery (theft while armed) under s. 343(d) should include:
For enhanced minimum penalties under s. 344(1)(a) or (a.1) to apply it must also be proven either that:
- the offence was committed "using" a restricted or prohibited firearm;
- the offence was committed "using" any firearm and "for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with" a criminal organization; or
- the offence was committed "using" any firearm
The term "steal" is defined in s. 2 as meaning "to commit theft". While "committing theft" is defined in s. 322:
Violence or Threat of Violence: 343 (a)
The element of "violence" is made out by an unlawful assault. However, to make out robbery the assault must be for a specific intent.
- Threats and Violence
An utterance threatening force will be sufficient to make out the element of "violence". There is no need to measure the degree of violence.
Conduct alleging to be implicit in its violence or threat of violence is determined by whether a reasonable person would have felt or apprehended that violence was conveyed or threatened in the circumstances.
A threat of violence need not be overt. A display of a knife while hooded and a demand for money is an implied threat of violence. 
Holding a person down to prevent resistance constitutes violence.
What constitutes a "threat" is derived from the charge of uttering threats under s.264.1. If the utterance meets the criteria for s. 264.1, it is irrelevant whether the victim appreciated the threatening nature of the utterance. To put it another way, the effect of the threat on the prospective victim is of no consequence.
Passing a note requesting money to a bank teller can be sufficient to make out a threat of violence.
"Extort" is defined in the shorter Oxford English Dictionary in part as, "to wrest from a reluctant person by force, violence, torture, intimidation".
Merely walking into a bank and giving a teller a note causing no fear for safety is not threat of violence or a robbery.
- Purpose of Threats or Violence
The violence or threats of violence must be for the purpose of taking whatever is stolen and so it requires that the violence or threats be before or contemporaneous to the theft.
If however the property was "stolen clandestinely" or "surreptitious[ly]", then the presence of violence or threats of violence to enable escape will not make out a robbery under s. 344(a).
The violence can be used against a target other than the victim being robbed.
- Link Between Threats and Violence
Robbery under .s 343(a) requires "contemporaneous use of violence or threats of violence in the course of, and for the purpose of, taking" other person's property. There must be more than a temporal link between the threats and the violence.
An assault or threat occurring after the completion of a theft, at least enough time has passed to make it a separate event, there can be no conviction for robbery under s. 343(a).
Purse-snatching will not make out a robbery where the item was taken before the victim had a chance to resist.
- See also: Common Assault (Offence)
R v Lecky, 2001 CanLII 6026 (ON CA), (2001), 157 CCC (3d) 351, per curiam
R v Steele,  3 SCR 138, 2014 SCC 61 (CanLII), per Wagner J
R v MacCormack (2009), 241 CCC (3d) 516, 2009 ONCA 72 (CanLII), per Watt JA
R v Sayers, (1983) 8 CCC (3d) 572 (ONCA), 1983 CanLII 3496 (ON CA), per LaCourciere JA
R v Pelletier, 1992 CanLII 3819 (QC CA), (1992) 71 CCC (3d) 438, per Proulx JA
see also Reasonable Person Test
R v Griffin, 2011 NSCA 103 (CanLII), per Bryson JA
R v Douglas, 2012 MBQB 197 (CanLII), per Bryk J
- R v Trudel (1984), 12 CCC (3d) 342, 1984 CanLII 3469 (QC CA), per LaRoche J
- R v Carons, 1978 ALTASCAD 206 (CanLII), (1978), 42 CCC (2d) 19 (Alta. C.A.), per Prowse JA
- R v Nabis,  2 SCR 485, 1974 CanLII 179 (SCC), per Beetz J
- R v Katrensky (1975), 24 CCC (2d) 350, 1975 CanLII 1413 (BC PC), per Ostler J
- R v Ortega, 2014 ONSC 6414 (CanLII), per Trottier J
R v Newell, 2007 NLCA 9 (CanLII), per Cameron JA, at para 32
R v Jean, 2012 BCCA 448 (CanLII), per Finch CJ
R v Downer (1978), 40 CCC (2d) 532, 1978 CanLII 2340 (ON CA), per Martin JA, at para 14 ("If property was stolen clandestinely, violence or threats of violence to enable the thief to escape, or to prevent the re-taking by the owner of what had been stolen, did not have the effect of escalating larceny into robbery") see also para 25
R v McKay, 2014 SKCA 19 (CanLII), per Lane JA - violence used to escape following surreptitious theft is not robbery under s. 343(a)
- Newell, supra
- R v Jean, 2012 BCCA 448 (CanLII), per Finch JA
- e.g. R v Kulscar, 2009 BCCA 515 (CanLII), per Ryan JA, at para 12
- R v McKay, 2014 SKCA 19 (CanLII), per Lane JA
- R v Picard, 1976 CanLII 1058 (QC CQ), (1976) 39 CCC (2d) 57, per Bérubé J
Stealing with Personal Violence: 343 (b)
Any "violence" that occurs after the theft is complete may support a charge of robbery under s. 343(b) but not 343(a).
A theft is not a continuing act that includes the escape.
R v Jean, 2012 BCCA 448 (CanLII), per Finch CJ, at para 34 ("Violence occurring after the theft is complete may however amount to robbery where the charge is laid under s. 343(b) and the elements of the offence in that subsection are proven")
- R v Lew (1978), 30 CCC (2d) 140 (ONCA), 1978 CanLII 2262 (ON CA), per Brooke JA
- R v Bourassa (2004), 189 CCC (3d) 438, 2004 NSCA 127 (CanLII), per Saunders JA
Jean, supra, at para 36
Assault with Intent to Steal: 343 (c)
Assault has the same meaning as s. 266. This includes technical assaults.
There is no need to prove that a theft actually occurred.
Stealing while Armed: 343 (d)
Under s. 343(d) the "weapon" must be either (1) an actual firearm; (2) an imitation firearm; or (3) an offensive weapon. Simply using one's hand to imitate a firearm is not sufficient.
"Armed" must be the actual possession of a weapon. This does not include simulating possession of a weapon.
The "use" of an offence weapon is not an essential element.
- R v Delage (2001) 154 CCC (3d) 85 (Que CA), 2001 CanLII 2656 (QCCA), per curiam
R v Sloan (1974), 19 CCC (2d) 190 (BCCA), 1974 CanLII 1501 (BC CA), per McIntyre JA
R v Gouchie (1976), 33 CCC (2d) 120, 1976 CanLII 1400 (QC CQ), per Brunet J
R v Robinson, 2014 ONSC 3125 (CanLII), per Gray J, at para 105
see R v Moore, 2012 ONCA 770 (CanLII), per curiam
As Opposed to Theft
Given that robbery is a form of theft, there can be cases where the proximity and connection between theft and violence is limited. A theft where there is violence after the completion of the theft can be treated as distinct from robbery.
This distinction is most seen in robbery under s. 343(a) which requires violence or threats to "overcome resistance to stealing". Where the threats are made after the completion of the theft, such as after a shoplifter leaves a store and is followed by staff, threats or violence may be found as only for the purpose of escape and not the purpose of preventing stealing which is already complete by this point.
- R v Newell, 2007 NLCA 9 (CanLII), per Cameron JA
see R v Daughma,  OJ No 1765(*no CanLII links)
- in this case, threats occurred outside of store after accused steals a bottle of wine.
cf. R v Morgan, 2013 ABCA 26 (CanLII), per O'Brien JA - offender pointed a gun at guard in the parking lot while offender was getting into his car. Judge found it was a robbery
Dangerous Offenders and Long-Term Offenders
Robbery is classified as a "serious personal injury offence" (s. 752) where there is violence or threats of violence involved.
The following have been found to be included offences:
The statutory defence of duress is excluded by s. 17 from applying to offences of robbery.
Participation of Third Parties
- Testimonial Aids
Certain persons who testify are entitled to make application for the use of testimonial aids: Exclusion of Public (s. 486), Use of a Testimonial Screen (s. 486), Access to Support Person While Testifying (s. 486.1), Close Proximity Video-link Testimony (s. 486.2), Self-Represented Cross-Examination Prohibition Order (s. 486.3), and Witness Security Order (s. 486.7).
A witness, victim or complainant may also request publication bans (s. 486.4, 486.5) and/or a Witness Identity Non-disclosure Order (s. 486.31). See also, Publication Bans, above.
- On Finding of Guilt
s. 606(4.1), (4.2)
|Victim Notice |
of Impact Statement
|s. 344 [robbery]|
For serious personal injury offences or murder, s. 606(4.1) requires that after accepting a guilty plea, the judge must inquire whether "any of the victims had advised the prosecutor of their desire to be informed if such an agreement were entered into, and, if so, whether reasonable steps were taken to inform that victim of the agreement". Failing to take reasonable steps at guilty plea requires the prosecutor to "as soon as feasible, take reasonable steps to inform the victim of the agreement and the acceptance of the plea" (s. 606(4.3)).
Under s. 738, a judge must inquire from the Crown before sentencing whether "reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victims with an opportunity to indicate whether they are seeking restitution for their losses and damages".
Under s. 722(2), the judge must inquire "[a]s soon as feasible" before sentencing with the Crown "if reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victim with an opportunity to prepare" a victim impact statement. This will include any person "who has suffered, or is alleged to have suffered, physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss" as a result of the offence. Individuals representing a community impacted by the crime may file a statement under s. 722.2.
Sentencing Principles and Ranges
- For general principles and factors of violence and assault-based offences, see Violent and Assaultive Offences
- Maximum Penalties
|s. 344 [robbery]||N/A||life incarceration|
Offences under s. 344 [robbery] are straight indictable. The maximum penalty is life.
- Minimum Penalties
|s. s.344(1)(a) [rest./prob. firearm use or firearm use with crim. org]
From May 1, 2008
|N/A||5 year custody||7 years|
|s. s.344(1)(a.1) [firearm use]
From May 1, 2008
|N/A||4 year custody||Same|
A conviction for robbery with a firearm carries with it a mandatory minimum of 5 years.
The 5 year minimum has been found to be constitutional and does not violate the right against cruel and unusual punishments under s. 12 of the Charter.
- Available Dispositions
s. 718.3, 787
|s. 344 [robbery]||N/A|
If convicted under s. 344 [robbery] a discharge is not available under s. 730(1) as it is "an offence for which a minimum punishment is prescribed by law or an offence punishable by imprisonment for fourteen years or for life". Offences under s. 344 [robbery] are ineligible for a conditional sentence order under s. 742.1(c), when prosecuted by indictment, as the maximum period of incarceration is 14 years or life.
- Consecutive Sentences
There are no statutory requirements that the sentences be consecutive.
At least one provincial superior court has found the 4-year mandatory minimum for robbery with a firearm to be cruel and unusual and therefore unconstitutional.
The primary objective in sentencing for a home invasion robbery is deterrence which is necessary to protect the public.
A home invasion robbery sentence should have a "higher starting point sentence than the armed robbery of a bank or commercial institution".
- General Factors
- Planning and Deliberation
- Major Role in the Offence
- Prior Criminal Record (esp. related offences)
- Prevalence of Offence in Community
- Public Abhorrence of Type of Crime
- Offender was in a Position of Trust
- Victim was Vulnerable (Due to Age, Position of Trust, etc. see 718.2)
- Significant Risk or Actual Harm to Victim
- Offence motivated on Hate towards certain groups (s. 718.2)
- Offence Committed as Part of Organized Crime or Terrorist Group
- Support Network (family and friends)
- Positive Employment History
- Presence of a Mental Disorder or Addiction (*)
- Risk of Deportation
- use of a weapon
- use of a mask
- awareness of elderly or otherwise vulnerable victims
- injuries to victim
- opportunity to reconsider plan
- measure of violence
- use restraints on victims
In most provinces the case law has set the starting point for robbery in general start at 3 years. The sentence is adjusted from that starting point either up or down based on the circumstances of the offence and the circumstances of the accused. The normal range is in excess of 2 years.
In Manitoba, there is no starting point for robberies.
In Alberta, The starting point for a mugging robbery is 12 to 18 months.
Robberies involving stabbings are frequently in the four to five years range.
In Alberta, the starting point for robbery of a bank by use of a note is 4 years incarceration.
In the rare cases, robberies can include suspended sentences.
- R v Johnas, 1982 ABCA 331 (CanLII), (1982), 32 C.R. (3d) l (Alta. C.A.), per curiam
- R v Wozny, 2010 MBCA 115 (CanLII), per MacInnes JA
- R v Sorensen, 2006 MBCA 38 (CanLII), per Steel JA, at para 19
R v Nerling, 2011 ABPC 371 (CanLII), per Wheatley J, at para 6 appealed to 2012 ABCA 114 (CanLII), per Slatter JA
R v Carter, 1992 ABCA 190 (CanLII),  AJ No 561 (CA), per Mcdonald J (no record, no injuries, low value)
R v Nyland,  AJ No 1136 (CA)(*no CanLII links) (no record, no injuries, low value)
R v Saeed, 2004 ABCA 384 (CanLII), per Marceau J (no record, no injuries, low value)
- R v Biln, 1999 BCCA 369 (CanLII), per McEachern JA
R v Brennan, 2003 ABCA 330 (CanLII),  AJ No 1366 (Alta. C.A.), per Martin J
R v Jenkins, 2004 ABPC 48 (CanLII), per Lefever J
R v Earl, 1985 ABCA 241 (CanLII),  AJ No 168, per Laycraft JA
R v Trudell, 1984 ABCA 257 (CanLII),  AJ No 932, per Laycraft JA
cf. R v Hung, 1990 ABCA 347 (CanLII), (1990), 113 A.R. 205,  AJ No 1074 (QL) (Alta. C.A.), per curiam at 214: "the starting‑point for any sentence involving robbery of a financial institution is five years in the penitentiary"
R v Brewer (1988), 81 NSR (2d) 86, 1997 CanLII 14976 (NS CA), per Freeman JA
R v Leet (1989) 88 NSR (2d) 161(*no CanLII links) , per Chipman JA
R v Johnson, 2007 NSCA 104 (CanLII), per Bateman JA
see R v Carver,  M.J. No. 257 (C.A.)(*no CanLII links)
R v Ramsay,  M.J. No. 417 (C.A.)(*no CanLII links)
R v Bartlett,  M.J. No. 2 (C.A.), 1961 CanLII 529 (MB CA), per Schultz JA
Under s. 343(1)(a.1), a robbery with a firearm requires a minimum of 4 years.
It is not necessary that the pleading specify the use of a firearm to invoke the increased minimum penalty.
The term “home invasion” can be applied to wide range of offences and so can be misleading to assume they are all similar cases.
Alberta has required a home invasion is a robbery to include:
- plan to commit robbery in a home where offender expects to be found in dwelling
- arms self with weapon
- enters dwelling that is reasonably known to be occupied
- confines occupants
- threaten occupants
- steals money or valuable property
There is some suggestion that a similar invasion of a victim's vehicle, such as in a car-jacking, holds equal gravity as the home.
In Nova Scotia, private dwelling robberies are in the range of 6 to 10 years. 
In British Columbia, the range of sentence for home invasions involving serious violence is 8 to 12 years.
In Newfoundland,the "low end" of the acceptable range is 18 months.
- R v AJC; R v Joseph, 2004 BCCA 268 (CanLII), per Finch JA (3:0) at 1
- R v Matwiy, 1996 ABCA 63 (CanLII), AJ No 134 (C.A.), per curiam
R v daSilva and Metropolit,  OJ No 739 (Ont. S.C.)(*no CanLII links)
, per Locke J, at para 21 ("Protection and the securing of home and family must receive very high priority in our criminal justice system. If it were otherwise, the confidence of Canadians in that system would evaporate. I see little difference between a home invasion and a car-jacking invasion. In the reality of the present daily life in this country, our cars are extensions of our homes.") appeal dismissed at 2002 CanLII 19782 (ON CA), per curiam
- R v Leet (1989) 88 NSR (2d) 161(*no CanLII links) , per Chipman JA
- R v DAW, 2002 BCCA 336 (CanLII),  BCJ 1156 (CA), per Hall JA
- R v PJB, 1999 CanLII 18938 (NL CA), (1999), 182 Nfld. and P.E.I.R. 14 (NLCA), per Wells CJ
Ancillary Sentencing Orders
- Offence-specific Orders
|DNA Orders||s. 344 [robbery] or 98.1||
|Weapons Prohibition Orders||s. 344 [robbery]||
|Delayed Parole Order||s. 98.1 or 344 [robbery]||
- General Sentencing Orders
|Non-communication order while offender in custody (s. 743.21)||any||The judge has the discretion to order that the offender be prohibited "from communicating...with any victim, witness or other person" while in custody except where the judge "considers [it] necessary" to communicate with them.|
|Restitution Orders (s. 738)||any||A discretionary Order is available for things such as the replacement value of the property; the pecuniary damages incurred from harm, expenses fleeing a domestic partner; or certain expenses arising from the commission of an offence under s.402.2 or 403.|
|Victim Fine Surcharge (s. 737)||any||A discretionary surcharge under s. 737 of 30% of any fine order imposed, $100 per summary conviction or $200 per indictable conviction. If the offence occurs on or after October 23, 2013, the order has smaller minimum amounts (15%, $50, or $100).|
- General Forfeiture Orders
|Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime (s. 462.37(1) or (2.01))||any||Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence under the Code or the CDSA in which property is "proceeds of crime" and offence was "committed in relation to that property", the property shall be forfeited to Her Majesty the Queen on application of the Crown.|
|Fine in Lieu of Forfeiture (s. 462.37(3))||any||Where a Court is satisfied an order for the forfeiture of proceeds of crime under s. 462.37(1) or (2.01) can be made, but that property cannot be "made subject to an order", then the Court "may" order a fine in "an amount equal to the value of the property". Failure to pay the fine will result in a default judgement imposing a period of incarceration.|
|Forfeiture of Weapons or Firearms (s. 491)||any||Where there is finding of guilt for an offence where a "weapon, an imitation firearm, a prohibited device, any ammunition, any prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance was used in the commission of [the] offence and that thing has been seized and detained", or "that a person has committed an offence that involves, or the subject-matter of which is, a firearm, a cross-bow, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance has been seized and detained, that the item be an enumerated weapon or related item be connected to the offence", then there will be a mandatory forfeiture order. However, under s. 491(2), if the lawful owner "was not a party to the offence" and the judge has "no reasonable grounds to believe that the thing would or might be used in the commission of an offence", then it should be returned to the lawful owner.|
|Forfeiture of Offence-related Property (s. 490.1)||any||Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence, "any property is offence-related property" where (a) by means or in respect of which an indictable offence under this Act or the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act is committed, (b) that is used in any manner in connection with the commission of such an offence, or (c) that is intended to be used for committing such an offence". Such property is to be forfeited to Her Majesty in right of the province.|
Record Suspensions and Pardons
Convictions under s. 344 [robbery] are eligible for record suspensions pursuant to s. 3 and 4 of the Criminal Records Act after 5 years after the expiration of sentence for summary conviction offences and 10 years after the expiration of sentence for all other offences. The offender may not have the record suspended where the offender was (1) convicted of 3 or more offences with a maximum penalty of life, and (2) for each 3 offences he "was sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more".
The current version of s. 344 was in force from October 2, 2009 after being amended by the An Act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and protection of justice system participants), 2009, c. 22.
2008 to 2009
On May 1, 2008 part of the Tackling Violent Crime Act, S.C. 2008, c. 6, entered into force amending s. 344 of the Code to read as follows.
1995 to 2008
Criminal Code, 1892