Theft / Shoplifting Charges Lawyer Farjoud Law
What Are Theft / Shoplifting Charges?
Theft charges are essentially the stealing of property, money, or other things of value from another person or their agent, as a means to deprive them of the item, while converting it for your own personal enjoyment or benefit. The official definition of Theft, as stated in Section 322 of the Criminal Code of Canada, is as follows:
Everyone commits theft, when they fraudulently, without colour of right, takes or converts to their own use or another person’s use, anything, whether it is inanimate or animate, with the intent to:
Absolutely or temporarily deprive the owner, or their agent, of their property or interest in the property;
Uses the property as a security or deposit;
Parts with the property, under the condition, with respect to its return, which the person, who is parting with the property may be not able to perform;
Deals with the property, in such a manner, where the property is not able to be restored to its prior condition at the time it was taken or converted.
Theft is committed when a person moves, causes movement, or beings to move property, with the intent of stealing it.
In other words, if you take property that does not belong to you, you can be charged with a theft offence. The Criminal Code of Canada recognizes specific monetary values of theft offences and uses this value to determine the appropriate classification of the offence as well as appropriate punishments, if convicted.
Similar to fraud offences, there are two main types of theft charges:
Theft Under $5,000
Theft Over $5,000.
The law does not have a specific offence under the Criminal Code of Canada for shoplifting, so a person will be charged for Theft Under or Over $5,000, depending on the value of the property stolen.
The punishments for Theft offences are defined in Section 334 of the Criminal Code of Canada and states:
Everyone who commits theft, except where otherwise provided by law,
Is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, where the property stolen is a testamentary instrument or the value of what is stolen exceeds five thousand dollars;
Of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or
Of an offence punishable on summary conviction, where the value of what is stolen does not exceed five thousand dollars.
It is worth mentioning, in some cases a person could potentially be charged with more than one offence; it is very common to get caught for shoplifting/theft, get arrested, then searched incident to arrest, and further evidence is discovered which would result in additional criminal charges.
Regardless of the value of property stolen, theft offences should be treated seriously and not taken lightly. A conviction has implications both now and in the future. Not only could you potentially be imprisoned and required to pay restitution, the offence goes on your criminal record and can create problems finding and maintaining employment.
It is highly recommended to seek your own professional legal advice from a Toronto criminal defence lawyer, if you are charged with a theft offence.
Theft / Shoplifting FAQs
In this FAQs section, we review some of the more common questions people have about Theft offences.
Can I be charged with shoplifting even if I did not leave the store?
Yes. Section 322 (2) clearly states even moving property, with the intent to steal it, is sufficient to be charged with a theft offence. While most stores’ security wait until the person leaves the store before apprehending them, you could still be charged even if were still in the store.
What if a friend commits theft while I am with them?
It depends upon the circumstances surrounding the theft and whether you had prior knowledge of their intent to steal. If you are with them when they are caught, you could potentially still be charged. Most police officers will still charge both suspects, regardless of your knowledge of the theft.
Do store security guards have right to question me?
No. You have the legal right to remain silent and not provide store security with any personal information or discuss the circumstances regarding the theft or shoplifting of property. Actually, it is in your best interests to remain silent, no matter what the security guard tells you.
Sometimes store security guards will use intimidation tactics or make promises they will not press charges if you talk. Do not be fooled by this, as their objective is, at a minimum to get your personal information. Once they have it, they turn it over to the store’s lawyers, who typically will send you what is called a “civil recovery letter.”
This letter is the store’s attempt to intimidate you into paying a fee of several hundred dollars directly to the store. Even after paying this fee, you can still be charged by the Crown for a theft offence.
Will I be arrested for shoplifting after the police arrive?
It depends upon the value of the property and whether you have any prior offences, as to whether the police will take you immediately into custody and arrest you. Quite often, most people caught shoplifting have no prior record. In these cases, the police will issues what is known as a “Form 9 Notice to Appear.”
This document will state your charges, the location where you are to appear at the police station for fingerprinting, as well as the date, time and location of your court appearance. You are formally charged in court, after the Crown lawyer has formally sworn in the theft offence in front of the judge.
It is not uncommon for the police to charge you with both a theft offence and a “Possession of Property Obtained by a Crime” offence, which is defined under Section 354 of the Criminal Code if you are caught shoplifting.
Can I be charged if I got permission to take the property?
Possibly. For instance, you ask your neighbour to borrow their lawn mower to mow your yard. At some point you decide you are not going to return it, but keep it. Even though your neighbour originally agreed to letting you use their property, because you failed to return it and had the intention to keep it, you can be charged with theft.
What if I got rid of the property and no longer have it?
If you got rid of the property you stole, you can still be charged with theft. Regardless of whether you tossed it in the trash, gave it away, or sold it for money, you committed a criminal offence the moment you intentionally took the property from its owner.
What is a property “Owners Agent”?
An “Owners Agent” is quite simply a person the property owner has entrusted with the care of their property on their behalf. Even though they do not directly have a claim to the property, in the event of theft, they do have the right to call the police and make a complaint that the property was stolen.
Please note that this article is solely for informational purposes and should not be considered legal advice. In order to ensure the protection of your rights and interests, please consult a criminal defence lawyer prior to acting or relying upon any information.
Contact Farjoud Law – Toronto Theft Lawyer
If you or someone you care about has been charged with drug possession offence, it is in your best interests to speak directly to a criminal defence lawyer in North York, Toronto to find out your rights and get your questions answered. Call Farjoud Law now at (647) 606-6776 to speak with a criminal lawyer to discuss your matter. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Farjoud Law is located at 4950 Yonge Street, Suite 2200 in the neighbourhood of North York in Toronto, Ontario. Click here for directions to our law office.