An allegation of theft has a common-sense understanding – you took something that was not yours to take. To be convicted of theft, the Crown Prosecutor must prove the theft was intentional – you meant to take the thing and did not just forget about it.
Although the definition of the crime of theft is simple, dealing with the charge successfully requires knowledge and experience.
Mr. Melville has convinced prosecutors time and again to halt prosecution for our clients charged with minor crimes related to property, such as possession of stolen property or theft. This depends on your specific circumstances, and results will vary from person to person.
We have been successful in getting all criminal charges withdrawn without the embarrassment or expense of a trial. This protects our clients from facing the risk of possible criminal convictions.
Canadian Law and Theft
The seriousness of a charge for theft is defined by the value of property allegedly stolen. The maximum punishment is typically 10 years in prison if the value exceeds $5,000 as compared to 2 years in prison for items valued under $5,000. The maximum sentences can be very misleading, as the range of sentence varies widely, so seeking legal advice about your specific situation will give you a better idea of the jeopardy you are facing. There are various factors the Crown considers while determining an appropriate position and whether it is in the public interest to proceed.
For instance, employee theft or theft from an employer is considered a grave crime and deserving of severe punishment than simple instances of theft of opportunity. The same holds true for breach of trust thefts, such as accountants stealing from their clients, nurses stealing from their patients, or corporate officers misusing the company’s money.
These situations amount to significant aggravating circumstances and the Court tends to punish perpetrators in a similar fashion. Sometimes, the Criminal Code may specify severe punishment for the accused depending on the theft type.
Theft under $5,000
Theft under $5,000 would include, but not limited to, most shoplifting. This is a minor and common criminal offense that gets committed by people of all backgrounds and ages. Unfortunately, if you are found guilty of shoplifting you can receive a criminal record. A criminal record can affect your future employment opportunities, travel options, and negatively impact the rest of your life.
If you are charged with an allegation shoplifting or theft in Surrey, hiring a criminal defence lawyer with the necessary knowledge and experience gives you the best shot at not getting a criminal record. Defences to theft or shoplifting often include mistake or accident, but your specific factual situation will need to be addressed in consultation to see if that defence is available to you at law.
Theft over $5,000
People who are charged with theft over $5,000 find themselves in a serious situation. If you are convicted after trial or plead guilty to a charge of theft over $5,000, jail is likely.
Crown counsel typically takes a position that the accused charged with significant theft offences should be incarcerated. Typically, higher value or more money theft allegations result in Crown counsel seeking higher sentences. Additionally, the presence of other aggravating factors is considered by the Crown. This includes scope of the offence, breach of trust, and whether deception or premeditation is involved or absent.
It is imperative for people charged with theft over $5,000 to hire experienced defence counsel since the charges involve serious consequences.
Common Defences to Theft over $5,000
It is important to consult with a lawyer at the earliest stages of theft over $5,000 investigation. This allows the lawyer to determine the best potential outcome of not having any charges approved at all, or if approved, diverted from the criminal justice system to alternative measures.
I went from looking at 3-5 years and got out within 3 months of the day I was incarcerated. He was always respectful to my family and me.
– N.L., Google Review
Shoplifting or threat from stores instead of a private citizen is among the most common types of theft. Shoplifting is considered a special type of theft because it is often compulsive and impulsive. It can happen to anyone and you should not be embarrassed about it.
Shoplifting allegations are typically on lower end of the criminal law spectrum. If you are a first-time offender who is caught shoplifting, you may just avoid criminal conviction altogether without going to trial. In Surrey, you may also be eligible to have the shoplifting charge diverted from the court system, which will result in a withdrawal or stay of proceedings of all criminal charges.
Alternative Measures in Surrey
Theft and shoplifting are crimes of dishonesty and are a criminal charge. Nevertheless, the offence is quite common and routinely committed by people who have never been involved with the police and have any form of criminal history. Shoplifting charges can be stigmatizing and embarrassing for a person with good morals and reputation.
A criminal conviction for theft can ruin careers, limit job opportunities, and even limit a candidate’s options to pursue education in certain programs at post-secondary institutions. This can affect your earnings over a lifetime. Restorative justice provisions are used to discourage the accused from committing the same crime in the future. However, this is only allowed as a measure when not inconsistent with the society or its protection, and the Crown agrees it is appropriate in the circumstances.
The prosecutor shall review the allegations on a formal request made by the criminal defence lawyer to determine whether the case qualifies or satisfies the conditions for Alternative Measures. Mr. Melville can make without-prejudice submissions to encourage the Crown Prosecutor to determine that all conditions are met and to settle out of court.
Experienced criminal lawyers have the wherewithal to persuade prosecutors to refer a shoplifting charge from the court and to push the case for alternative measures or restorative justice programs. This prevents a shoplifting charge from turning into a shoplifting conviction.
Seek the Right Legal Help
Theft convictions have profound effects. Aside from prison time, a conviction can negatively affect your future employment prospects. Our criminal law firm can represent you regardless of whether you are a first-time offender or a repeat offender. It is vital that you consult with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
Mr. Melville can advocate with the Crown to drop all criminal charges against you by building a strong defence and using the remedial measures listed under the Criminal Code. By enlisting our support, you can significantly increase your chances of receiving the best outcome, even where the Crown has a particularly strong case. Contact us for a free initial consultation at 604-265-7020.