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Possession of criminally obtained property

Being in possession of criminally obtained property means that a person possesses items knowing Orr should have known that they were obtained by committing a criminal act. For example, in the majority of cases where a person is arrested after stealing an object, he will also be charged with possession of property obtained by crime, since he has the item that originates from the crime committed.

In other cases, an individual who purchases property, knowing that it has been stolen, also commits this offense.

On the other hand, some situations are more ambiguous, which constitutes willful blindness. For instance, a person who buys a car at a price significantly below its true value, that does not ask any questions to the seller and does not care where it comes from, can be charged of this infraction, even if he did not steal the car himself. The law states that in these circumstances, the buyer should have known that the car was stolen because of the purchase price, that is greatly below the price value, and cannot invoque willful blindness as a defence.

Section 354 of the Criminal Code: Possession of property obtained by crime

354 (1) Every one commits an offence who has in his possession any property or thing or any proceeds of any property or thing knowing that all or part of the property or thing or of the proceeds was obtained by or derived directly or indirectly from

     (a) the commission in Canada of an offence punishable by indictment; or

     (b) an act or omission anywhere that, if it had occurred in Canada, would have constituted an offence

     punishable by indictment.

Section 355 of the Criminal Code: Punishment

 Every one who commits an offence under section 354

     a) if the subject matter of the offence is a testamentary instrument or the value of the subject matter of

     the offence is more than $5,000, is guilty of

          i) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years, or

          ii) an offence punishable on summary conviction; or

     b) if the value of the subject matter of the offence is not more than $5,000, is guilty

          i) of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or

          ii) of an offence punishable on summary conviction.