Shoplifting might seem like a minor inconvenience if you have been charged, but one of the most important decisions in your life may be the one to hire a licensed paralegal member who deals with criminal summary offences. The failure to do so means that you risk being fined, receiving a criminal record, and taking a serious hit to your reputation. Don’t let one small mistake dictate the rest of your future.
This is especially true when a shoplifting charge is the result of an accident on your part. It is easy to understand a scenario in which someone merely overlooked paying for an item they in good faith intended to buy. A failure to properly contest such a charge might result in you having a criminal record for something you didn’t even do.
A paralegal can negotiate with the Crown on your behalf and protect your interests in this challenging situation. A paralegal can also represent you at trial, allowing you to contest the charges before a judge and force the Crown to prove their case, where they have the burden to provide evidence of your guilt.
If you don’t have a criminal record, and the nature of your theft was minor (a small quantity of merchandise taken which is later recovered) you might be eligible for a diversion program. This is at the discretion of the Crown, but to maximize your chances of being placed in such a program it is in your best interests to have a legal professional advocate your case.
Once in the diversion program, the eligible candidate may be asked to complete one of a number of different tasks. In some jurisdictions, a person charged with theft may be required to make a donation to charity, complete a minimum number of community service hours – or both.
Regardless of the requirements, the end result is usually the same: once the diversion program has been completed to the satisfaction of the Crown Attorney, they will recommend to the court that the criminal charge of theft be withdrawn against the accused person. This will result in the accused person maintaining a clean record (assuming they didn’t have a prior criminal record).
A conviction for theft and the resultant criminal record can haunt you for years to come. It can also create difficulties for non-residents who intend to become citizens. If you have been charged with Theft Under $5,000 you need to act now to obtain legal representation to ensure that you protect your rights, and don’t potentially sabotage your future.