What is a corruptly taking reward charge?
A corruptly taking reward charge is covered under s. 142 of the Criminal Code found in Part IV. Part IV covers “Offences Against the Administration of Law and Justice”.
A corruptly taking reward charge occurs when a person corruptly accepts any valuable consideration, directly or indirectly, under pretence or on account of helping any person to recover anything obtained by the commission of an indictable offence.
Corruptly taking reward is a hybrid offence with a Crown election. This means that depending on the circumstances of your case the Crown can elect to proceed by indictment or summarily. If an accused is prosecuted by indictment, there is a Defence election of court under s. 536(2) of the Criminal Code.
Some examples of a corruptly taking reward charge may include the following:
- An accused pretends to find a vehicle that his friend has stolen and claims the reward from the person from whom the car was stolen;
- An accused receives information regarding a stolen item and negotiates with the victim for reward for helping them recover the item; and
- An accused finds a key to a vehicle on the ground and demands repayment when the owner asks for it to be returned.
The defences available to a corruptly taking reward charge are entirely dependent on the facts of your case.
Some defences to a corruptly taking reward charge may include:
- There is no evidence that the accused’s actions were “corrupt”;
- The accused was wrongly identified as the person who corruptly took reward; and
- The accused’s Charter rights were violated.
A corruptly taking reward charge is a hybrid offence, which entails a maximum punishment as follows:
- Imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years.
Punishments for corruptly taking reward charges under s. 142 of the Criminal Code depends on if the Crown elects to pursue the charge as an indictable offence or summarily. There are no mandatory minimum penalties for this offence. The maximum is no more than 5 years of incarceration if prosecuted by indictment. If prosecuted summarily, the maximum punishment is no more than 2 years less a day of incarceration and a potential fine of up to $5,000.
A corruptly taking reward charge can also entail severe consequences for current and future employment opportunities and immigration status.
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Overview of the Offence
According to s. 142 of the Criminal Code:
142 Every person who corruptly accepts any valuable consideration, directly or indirectly, under pretence or on account of helping any person to recover anything obtained by the commission of an indictable offence is guilty of:
(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
The Guilty Act (Actus Reus)
The actus reus for a corruptly taking reward conviction under s. 142 of the Criminal Code is established by proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, of the following:
- The deliberate act of accepting valuable consideration where the accused is helping another person recover anything obtained through an indictable offence.
The Guilty Mind (Mens Rea)
The mens rea for a corruptly taking reward conviction under s. 142 of the Criminal Code is established by proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, of the following:
- The accused accepted valuable consideration with the intention of helping someone recover something obtained through an indictable offence.
How to Beat a Corruptly Reward Taking Charge
Every case is different. The availability and strength of any defence depends entirely on the specific facts of your case. The strength of any available defence rests on the evidence against you and the precise details of the allegations. However, the following are some possible defences that may be used when fighting a corruptly taking reward charge:
The strongest defence against a corruptly taking reward offence under s. 142 of the Criminal Code is that the accused did not corruptly accept a reward. If you can show that the facts and the evidence do not support that you intended to corruptly take a reward, then you may have a defence that you were factually innocent. As the actus reus of the offence requires that the act of incitement is direct and public, factual innocence may be proven if the incitement is proven to be private.
An essential part of a corruptly taking reward charge is that the accused acts “corruptly” in the commission of the offence. Ontario courts have held “corruptly” to be an act done by an individual knowing that what they are doing is wrong and doing it with an evil object (R. v. Guttman). Therefore, if you can prove that you did not know what you were doing was wrong, and did not do anything for an evil object, you will have a strong defence that you were not acting corruptly.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, a possible defence to a corruptly taking reward charge may be to raise an identity defence. In this case, for this defence to be raised successfully, you will have to prove that you were not the person who corruptly took a reward for the recovery of goods obtained by the commission of an indictable offence.
Any Applicable Charter Defences
The Charter sets out your rights and freedoms before and after your arrest. If the police fail to abide by these rights deliberately or inadvertently, it could aid in your defence. If any of your Charter rights have been violated before or after your arrest, you may be able to have some or all of the evidence that the Crown is relying on to secure a conviction excluded under s. 24(2) of the Charter.
The Criminal Code provides for a possible maximum term of imprisonment of no more than 5 years for those convicted of a corruptly taking reward charge.
Persons found guilty of corruptly taking reward are eligible for sentencing entailing a discharge, suspended sentence, stand-alone fine, custody, custody with a fine or probation or a conditional sentence order.
Beyond any immediate jail and/or probation sentence you receive, there are also discretionary DNA Orders and Weapons Prohibition Orders.
This is authorized as a secondary offence listed under s. 487.04 (c), (d) or (e), and the DNA order can be authorized regardless of if the Crown proceeds summarily or by indictment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you go to jail for corruptly taking reward?
If you are convicted for corruptly taking reward under s. 142 of the Criminal Code, you can go to jail. If the Crown proceeds by indictment, a corruptly taking reward charge carries a maximum sentence of no more than five years in jail. If the Crown proceeds summarily, the maximum jail sentence is two years less a day, and you can be subject to a fine of up to $5,000. Therefore, there is a possibility that you can go to jail for a corruptly taking reward charge.
What is the maximum penalty for corruptly taking reward?
The maximum penalty for corruptly taking reward is 5 years if the Crown chooses to prosecute an accused by indictment. If the Crown chooses to proceed summarily, the maximum jail sentence is two years less a day, and a potential fine of up to $5,000.
Is corruptly taking reward an indictable offence?
Corruptly taking reward is a hybrid offence. This means that the Crown prosecutor can choose to prosecute someone charged with corruptly taking reward either summarily or by indictment. If the Crown chooses to prosecute an accused by indictment, then if the accused is found guilty, they will be charged with an indictable offence.
In this case, Mr. Sullivan was a lawyer who became aware of a reward for the recovery of a truck upon his cousin showing him a news clipping. Mr. Sullivan’s cousin knew who committed the theft and was also aware of the truck’s location. Mr. Sullivan’s cousin never told the lawyer who committed the theft, however, but informed him of its location. Mr. Sullivan then began working with another lawyer, Mr. Guttman, who is the accused in this case. The accused had discussions with the owner of the truck, and negotiated a sum of $25,000 in return for information that would lead to the discovery of the truck. This sum of $25,000 was delivered to Guttman in trust and the accused was to receive $1,000 for his hand in the negotiations.
The accused was found not guilty of corruptly taking reward as there was no evidence he had acted corruptly. There was no evidence which suggested the accused was involved with the thieves, and there was no evidence that the accused falsely led the owners of the truck to believe he knew information about the truck’s location.
You can read the full decision here.
The accused in this matter plead guilty to 11 bank robbery charges. His criminal history included a charge for corruptly taking reward.
In this case, the accused found a key to a motor scooter and demanded payment from the scooter owner as a condition of giving him back the key. The Court found that the accused was guilty of corruptly taking reward as the accused accepted valuable consideration with the intention of helping someone recover an item obtained through theft.
You can read the full decision here.
R v. Butler (1975) 26 C.C.C. (2d) 445 (Ont. Co. Ct.)
The accused in this case had accepted a reward for obtaining the return of stolen goods to its owner. In coming to the decision, the Court found that “corruptly” under this charge meant an act done by an individual knowing that what they are doing is wrong and doing it with an evil object. In this case, the accused was found to have done an act he knew to be wrong and was doing it with an evil purpose, to obtain a profit from stolen goods. Therefore, the accused was found guilty of corruptly taking a reward.
This decision is currently not available publicly online. However, the decision is referenced in R v Guttman.
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