Theft Charges Lawyer Toronto
Types of Theft Charges in OntarioTheft charges occupy a significant portion of the Criminal Code in Canada, each carrying its own set of legal implications and potential consequences. Some are as minor as shoplifting a small item from a store, while others are as serious as stealing a large sum of money or property from an employer. A Toronto theft lawyer can help you navigate these complexities and determine the best course of action. Simple theft charges in the Criminal Code fall under three categories:
- Theft under & over $5000.00 – While theft under $5000 is a hybrid offence, theft over $5000 is an indictable offence and carries more severe penalties.
- Shoplifting & Theft Charge – Shoplifting typically falls under the category of theft under $5,000, given that many instances of shoplifting involve smaller amounts. However, if someone shoplifts items with a total value over $5,000, they could potentially be charged with theft over $5,000.
- Possession of property obtained by crime – This concerns having possession of any property or thing or any proceeds of any property or thing, knowing that all or part of the property or thing or the proceeds was obtained by illegal means.
The Consequences of Criminal Charges for TheftWhile theft is a seemingly straightforward offence, it carries a cascade of potential repercussions. These legal sanctions range in severity and are meticulously structured based on factors such as the value of stolen goods, prior convictions, and the nature of the theft itself. Beyond the immediate legal penalties, criminal charges for theft can usher in a multifaceted set of consequences, affecting both the personal and professional spheres of an individual’s life.
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Defending Your Criminal Charges for TheftTheft charges require careful analysis and preparation by an experienced legal professional. There are several defence options available. In addition, by making a proper presentation to the Crown, some cases can be resolved by withdrawing the charge in exchange for a charitable donation or performing community service hours. Several issues must be proven on a trial for theft:
- the property does not belong to the accused;
- the accused had no “colour of right” to possess the property;
- the accused intended to steal;
- the amount stolen,
- the age of the offender,
- the degree of trust,
- the sophistication
- the personal circumstances of the offender.
Frequently Asked Questions About Theft Charges in Ontario
What is theft?Generally, theft is any action of deceiving someone or taking anything that is not yours for your benefit or another person’s benefit. For a deeper understanding of what theft entails, let’s examine its definition as per Section 322 of the Criminal Code of Canada: 322(1) Everyone commits theft who fraudulently and without colour of right takes, or fraudulently and without colour of right converts to use or the use of another person, anything, whether animate or inanimate, with intent
- to deprive, temporarily or absolutely, the owner of it, or a person who has a special property or interest in it;
- to pledge it or deposit it as security;
- to part with it under a condition with respect to its return that the person who parts with it may be unable to perform; or
- to deal with it in such a manner that it cannot be restored in the condition in which it was at the time it was taken or converted.
Is it theft if I steal from someone who does not legally own the property I took?A theft can still occur even if the property you took legally belonged to someone completely different. Any person with a property interest in an item taken can make a theft charge.
What is shoplifting?Shoplifting is a category of theft offences which entails stealing from a retail store. It’s considered a minor offence in Canada, on the low-end spectrum of criminal offences. However, shoplifting allegations still carry consequences, especially for repeat offences. Therefore, when charged with such or related crimes, it’s essential to have an experienced and committed lawyer to help you obtain a successful outcome. In most cases, shoplifting crimes are not linked to financial troubles but rather underlying psychological issues. Zamani Law can help you access top physiologists who can identify the root of your shoplifting problem and help secure a favourable outcome and future.
Can I be guilty of theft if I gave the merchandise back?Once a charge of theft has been placed, your criminal matter will proceed regardless of whether you returned the merchandise. Paying back any money or possessions alleged to have been stolen will not result in any automatic dropping of the charges. However, an offer to pay back the money or value of the property may be helpful in certain situations as a mitigating factor and result in a lower penalty. If the case against you is not very strong, your lawyer may be able to use an offer to pay back the money or return property as a bargaining tool that may result in the charges against you being dropped.
Is it theft if I stole from someone who doesn’t legally own the property?Yes, it is theft if you take property from a person who does not own it legally. If the person was keeping the item for someone else or had any other interest in it, you will still face theft charges if you intentionally took the property without consent.
What are the penalties for theft?There are two categories of theft offences, each carrying different sentences: Theft over $5,000: if the stolen property is worth more than $5,000, one is guilty of an indictable offence and can face up to 10 years in incarceration. Theft under $5,000: if the stolen property is worth less than $5,000, you can be found guilty of either an indictable offence, which carries a maximum sentence of 2 years, or an offence punishable by summary conviction, which has a maximum of 6 months in prison, a $5,000 fine or both. Apart from incarceration and fines, a theft conviction has other ramifications on one’s life, including:
- Travel restrictions, especially to the USA
- Loss of employment
- Probation orders and conditions
- Immigration issues for non-residents looking to become citizens
- Employment limitations
Can you go to jail for theft under $5000?Yes, you can be charged with possession of stolen property under $5000 in Ontario and go to prison. Theft under $5,000 is a hybrid offence, meaning the Crown can choose to prosecute it either as a summary conviction offence or as an indictable offence, based on the specifics of the case and the presence of any aggravating factors. If prosecuted as a summary conviction offence, the maximum penalty is up to 6 months in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both. If prosecuted as an indictable offence (similar to a felony in some other jurisdictions), the maximum penalty is 2 years in prison. Though it’s less common for minor thefts under $5,000 to be prosecuted this way, the potential penalties can be steeper.
How can I get my theft charges diverted?In Ontario, courthouses have diversion programs for theft charges that help the accused avoid a criminal record (assuming they have no previous criminal records). Diversion programs vary as per the courthouse, but they generally include donations to charity, community service, and fines. When facing theft charges, the Crown Attorneys determine your eligibility for a diversion program. Some factors determining your eligibility include the gravity of the offence, whether the stolen property was recovered, and prior criminal records. After fulfilling the conditions of your diversion program, the Crown withdraws the charges against you. If, for any reason, you are not eligible for a diversion program, an experienced criminal defence attorney can negotiate with the Crown Attorney’s office to reassess their decision. Contact our lawyers for a free consultation on your case or more information on diversion programs in Ontario.
What is an order of restitution?An order of restitution is an order issued by a court requiring the accused to compensate the complainant for their loss or any damage incurred to their property or requiring them to return the stolen item to the complainant. A restitution order can be issued as part and condition of probation or as a “free-standing order.” Generally, the order does not last longer than three years and requires the accused to maintain good behaviour during this period. It might also require the accused not to have any direct or indirect contact with the complainant. Failure to comply with a restitution order will result in a criminal charge.
Can you be charged with possession of stolen property?Yes, you can be charged with possession of property (hot goods) obtained by crime, even if you are not the person who stole the items. For a successful conviction, the Crown must prove that you had knowledge that the property in your possession was stolen or show that you should have known that it was obtained through illegal means. It’s illegal to buy, accept, or sell any item that you know was obtained through theft. A conviction for possession of property obtained by crime can result in a jail term not exceeding 10 years.
I have been charged with theft; what should I do?If you have been charged with theft, it’s advisable to stay quiet and request to speak to your lawyer. Having an attorney is your right, as guaranteed by the Human Rights Charter, and every person charged with a crime is entitled to one. Remember, every word you say to the police can be used against you. This is why seeking legal counsel is advisable, even if you’re innocent. Zamani Law handles theft charges under and over $5000 in the Toronto area. Contact Zamani Law for expert legal representation when facing shoplifting or other related allegations.
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