section 656

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

A presumption of guilt in theft or possession of unprocessed valuable minerals on or near a mine unless there is evidence to the contrary.

SECTION WORDING

656 In any proceeding in relation to theft or possession of a valuable mineral that is unrefined, partly refined, uncut or otherwise unprocessed by any person actively engaged in or on a mine, if it is established that the person possesses the valuable mineral, the person is presumed, in the absence of evidence raising a reasonable doubt to the contrary, to have stolen or unlawfully possessed the valuable mineral.

EXPLANATION

Section 656 of the Criminal Code of Canada pertains to the theft or possession of unprocessed valuable minerals from an active mine. If a person is found to be in possession of such minerals, the presumption of guilt is automatically established against them unless there is substantial evidence to the contrary. The section has been included in the criminal code to strengthen the prosecution's case against individuals found in possession of stolen valuable minerals. This law provides a deterrent effect and incentivizes mine employees and others engaged in the mining industry to refrain from committing theft or other illegal activities associated with valuable minerals. The presumption of guilt outlined in section 656 is particularly significant since it shifts the burden of proof to the defendant, which implies that the defendant must prove their innocence. The section gives weight to the valuable minerals, which are considered a significant natural resource, and helps protect the property rights of mine owners. Criminal sanctions against offenses such as theft of minerals are designed to protect legitimate commercial interests concerning natural resources, such as mining operations, which are vital to the economy. Therefore, section 656 serves to deter individuals from engaging in various forms of theft or acquiring unprocessed valuable minerals from active mines unlawfully.

COMMENTARY

Section 656 of the Criminal Code of Canada deals with the theft or possession of valuable minerals, particularly those that are unrefined, partially refined, uncut or otherwise unprocessed, by anyone who is actively engaged in or on a mine. This section provides for a presumption of guilt if a person is found to be in possession of such a valuable mineral. The presumption of guilt provided under section 656 is a legal fiction established to simplify and expedite the prosecution of theft or unlawful possession of valuable minerals. This section shifts the burden of proof onto the accused to establish that they did not steal or unlawfully possess the mineral in question. However, this presumption is rebuttable, and the accused must provide evidence to raise a reasonable doubt to the contrary. The rationale behind this provision is that valuable minerals are often high risk, high reward commodities that can bring about significant financial gain. They are thus particularly vulnerable to theft and other forms of unlawful possession, especially in the context of mining operations. This legal presumption serves to deter these illegal activities and also helps law enforcement to more effectively prosecute offenders. Section 656 is not without its criticisms, however. Critics argue that the presumption of guilt infringes on the fundamental principle of the presumption of innocence, a cornerstone of Canada's justice system. They also point out that this provision puts an undue burden on the accused to prove their innocence, which could result in wrongful convictions. Furthermore, it is argued that this provision unfairly targets small-scale miners and artisanal miners who may not have the resources to properly document their mining activities and mineral holdings. Despite these criticisms, section 656 remains a necessary provision to combat theft and unlawful possession of valuable minerals. It serves as a powerful tool for law enforcement officials in their efforts to identify and prosecute offenders. However, it is important that this provision is applied judiciously and that the rights of the accused are protected at all times. The burden of proof must remain with the prosecution, and the accused must be given a fair opportunity to defend themselves. In conclusion, section 656 of the Criminal Code of Canada is a controversial provision that serves to establish a presumption of guilt for the theft or unlawful possession of valuable minerals that are unrefined, partially refined, uncut or otherwise unprocessed. While this provision has its detractors, it is nonetheless a crucial tool for law enforcement officials in their fight against mineral theft and illegal possession. It is essential that this provision is applied fairly and that the rights of the accused are protected at all times.

STRATEGY

When dealing with Section 656 of the Criminal Code of Canada, there are several strategic considerations that must be taken into account. The first consideration is the presumption. Under this section, the accused is presumed to have stolen or unlawfully possessed the valuable mineral in question if it is established that they possess it. This presumption shifts the burden of proof to the accused, who must then provide evidence to contradict this presumption. This means that if a defendant is charged with theft or unlawful possession of a valuable mineral, it is essential to have a strong defence strategy in place. One possible strategy that could be employed is to challenge the validity of the presumption itself. The presumption under Section 656 may be challenged on the basis that it violates the accused's right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. This defence strategy may involve arguing that the presumption places an unfair burden on the accused to prove their innocence, which is contrary to the principles of justice and fairness. Another possible strategy is to challenge the evidence that establishes possession of the valuable mineral. This may involve arguing that the evidence was obtained illegally or that it is unreliable. For example, the defendant's lawyer may argue that the prosecution has not proven that the mineral in question is actually valuable or that the defendant knew it was valuable. This defence strategy may involve calling expert witnesses to testify about the value of the mineral or the defendant's knowledge of its value. A third possible strategy is to argue that the defendant did not have the necessary intent to commit theft or unlawful possession. This may involve arguing that the defendant believed they had a right to possess the mineral or that they did not know it was stolen or unlawfully obtained. This defence strategy may involve calling witnesses to testify about the defendant's state of mind or their belief in the legitimacy of their possession of the mineral. In conclusion, dealing with Section 656 of the Criminal Code of Canada requires careful consideration of the presumption and how to challenge it. A strong defence strategy must be in place to challenge the prosecution's evidence, the validity of the presumption, and the defendant's intentions. Employing the right defence strategy can make the difference between a guilty or not guilty verdict.