While shoplifting offences are clearly at the low end of the criminal law spectrum, they are often the only encounter the average Canadian ever has with our criminal justice system. These types of offences can be intensely embarrassing and are often a symptom of other difficulties in an individual’s life. The facts and circumstances are often looked at by the Crown, and if it goes to trial, by the court. Depending on the circumstances around the theft, you may be viewed with a sympathetic mind. Why an item was stolen and what item was stolen has great bearing on how a person will be looked at by the court system.
Shoplifting is defined as “the taking or carrying away of the property of another, without the consent of the owner and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property in whole or in part,” and generally classified as a “larceny” in most states, punished as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the dollar value of the item(s) taken.
There are a number of different reasons why people shoplift including:
Larceny is what most people think of as common theft the taking of someone else’s property without the use of force. The Model Penal Code and the laws of several provinces place larceny and certain other property crimes under the general category of theft. However, there are some provinces that retain the traditional common-law distinctions in which larceny is its own crime, separate from other property crimes like embezzlement or robbery.
Every jurisdiction has unique statutes to define types of larceny. Larceny can be a felony or a misdemeanor crime. A felony is a serious crime, typically with a one year or more prison sentence as well as fines imposed for the commission of the crime. Frequently, felony larceny is referred to as ‘grand theft.’
Conversely, a larceny can be treated as a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a crime which is considered less severe and usually includes imprisonment of one year or less when one is found guilty of the crime. Many jurisdictions assess whether a larceny constitutes a misdemeanor or felony based upon the amount of money or worth of the items which were taken.
Did you know that typically over 50,000 people are charged with Shoplifting and Theft Under $5,000 throughout Canada, each year. This criminal offence is defined in the Criminal Code of Canada in Section 334(b) and includes shoplifting, since most shoplifters rarely attempt to steal property valued at more than $5,000.
A summary offense under the criminal code for theft under $5000 comes with a maximum fine of $2000 and up to 6 months in jail.However, if you are a first-time offender the courts will be lenient with you and the charges less. If the theft under $500o is considered an indictable offense a person can be fined and imprisoned for up to 2 years although this is rare by the Crown.
An experienced lawyer might be able to defend your shoplifting charge by negotiating a plea deal with the prosecutor. Doing this can perhaps get your arrest or conviction expunged. Another way to fight shoplifting charges is to negotiate directly with the store owner instead of negotiating with the prosecution.
Before the legal team will defend the person, it is important to ensure that the two elements of the crime exist. This defense requires the legal team to poke holes in the prosecution’s argument and challenge all evidence. The first element is the intentional concealment of or the intentional possession of an item for sale but not yet purchased.And the second is fleeing the authorities is likely going to be irrefutable proof of your guilt (though there may be exceptions even to this). Leaving the store (calmly) is not absolute proof, but only additional evidence. On the other hand, if you pay for some items at the checkout, the court will likely take that as evidence that you did intend to pay for another item that you left the store without purchasing.
If you face shoplifting criminal charges, speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The defense attorney can protect your rights, help you navigate the criminal justice system, and advise you on the consequences of a conviction. You should speak with a civil law attorney if you received a demand letter or summons for a lawsuit from the store owner.
The very first step of bringing client onboard is to have a no obligation consultation.
Then comes the evaluation of the situation. And building the case background.
After building the whole case, now is the time to fight it in the court.
As we fight the case, we keep on collecting more information to support the case.