CAN I GO TO PRISON FOR THEFT UNDER $5000 OR SHOPLIFTING?
The Christmas rush is approaching, and a lot of Canadians are going to be planning shopping expeditions to check off their gift list for their family and friends. With COVID measures starting to ease up, malls, retailers and shopping centers are starting to welcome shoppers again and with it come throngs of accidental or unintentional theft charges.
We have all been there; shops usually have so many good deals and discounts over the holidays that leads shoppers to binge shop more. But as people delve into their shopping sprees and retail therapy sessions, some items are left forgotten in pockets or bags that have been left unpaid, leading to theft charges or shoplifting. Hiring a licensed paralegal member will help you with this type of crime, but in the meantime our team would like to explain a little more about theft below.
WHAT IS THEFT?
In Ontario, theft is described as intentionally taking or using someone else’s property without their permission. As items in store are considered a property of the business, if you have been caught with an item that has not been claimed or paid for then you have committed the crime of theft under Criminal Code of Canada section 322.
However, momentary lapses of judgement happen, and sometimes people make mistakes by forgetting to pay for the items. How do people deal with this situation?
IF CHARGED WITH THEFT WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO ME?
Since theft is considered a Criminal offence in Canada penalties can be grave and can lead to imprisonment depending on the amount of the property taken.
In Ontario, theft is divided into two kinds:
- THEFT UNDER
- THEFT OVER
Theft Under is for property that is worth less than $5000, and the maximum sentence for it is 2 years in jail if considered guilty of the charge.
Theft Over on the other hand is for any property worth more than $5000, and jail time will be dependent on the Crown deciding to prosecute you summarily or via indictment charges.
How does that differ? If the Crown decides to go through the summary conviction path, the maximum jail time is 2 years, but if the prosecutor decides to choose the indictment route a person can go to jail for the maximum sentence for theft which is 10 years.
OTHER PENALTIES FOR THEFT UNDER CHARGES
For the basis of this article, the focus will be for Theft under $5000 which is the most common theft charges in Ontario. Aside from the maximum penalty of 2 years jail time, a lot of people might be wondering: If that is the maximum penalty, what are the other consequences for Theft under $5000?
Aside from jail time, a criminal record for life is imminent for theft once one is considered guilty of the charge. Furthermore, probation orders and conditions might be set in place on top of the criminal record as well.
HOW WILL A CRIMINAL RECORD AFFECT MY LIFE?
Background checks are essential in Canadian society as most citizens have had one at least once in their life. Schools, employers and immigration applications have required a thorough background check before accepting an applicant. This can even be as simple as volunteer work requiring the necessary background checks to be admitted into one.
A criminal record would affect all these facets of your life with long term implications if left undefended.
I’VE BEEN CHARGED WITH THEFT UNDER $5000: WHAT DO I DO NOW?
Criminal offence is not to be taken lightly. If charged with one the best way to go upon it is to consult a Paralegal or a Lawyer immediately to understand your situation.
The best line of defense for a theft charge is to educate yourself and know your rights as a citizen; this should be followed by understanding the court process and possible repercussions if convicted with the offence via a legal counsel.
CAN I GET MY CHARGES WITHDRAWN/DROPPED FOR UNINTENTIONAL THEFT?
There are so many layers for an acquittal to be certain, but if a person is well represented they are on their way for a favorable outcome. The majority of people are inexperienced when it comes to lawful matters and legal terms tend to be harder to comprehend for the average person.
Countless aspects are in place when it comes to a criminal charge, which means there are many ways to go upon it too. With this in mind, only a legal representative like a Paralegal and Lawyer who have the knowledge of the law can help you navigate the legal system efficiently to have the desired outcome.
For example, minor offenders are tried in a different way compared to recurring offenders. Moreover, not a lot of people know that there are various programs in place too for first time offenders which involve diversion and volunteer programs, community service, and donation of small fines that would help them avoid criminal charges.
All of these will only be possible if you ask the right advice and representation from a legal counsel.
Do I need to hire a Lawyer to Appear in Such Criminal Matter?
In Ontario the government has authorized a licensed lawyer and paralegal to represent clients for minor criminal offences such as theft. Lawyers can also represent clients on more serious matters, such as indictable offences, a murder, acts of terrorism, robbery, treason, etc. Therefore, a paralegal can represent clients effectively on offences that are summary offences, such as theft under $5000, mischief offences, indecent acts, etc., the only difference is the fee, a Paralegal fee is significantly less than a lawyer.
To find out more about our Toronto Paralegal Firm and how you can avoid Criminal charges, you can contact us for a Free Consultation at (647) 872-3484 today.