Theft Over $5000: Everything You Need to Know

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Theft is one of the most common criminal charges laid in Canada and covers a broad spectrum of cases, including shoplifting at a retail store and theft in the context of an employer-employee relationship. 

There are a number of other theft-related offences under the Criminal Code, including the theft of services or the theft of a motor vehicle; however, section 322 is the main offence that is commonly laid in Canada.  

The wording of the offence under the Criminal Code is broad and states that “anything” stolen can be considered theft. To be the subject of theft, it must be property capable of being taken or converted and in a way that deprives the owner of his or her proprietary interest in some way.  

Section 322(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada defines theft as follows:

322 (1) Every one commits theft who fraudulently and without colour of right takes, or fraudulently and without colour of right converts to his use or to the use of another person, anything, whether animate or inanimate, with intent

(a) to deprive, temporarily or absolutely, the owner of it, or a person who has a special property or interest in it, of the thing or of his property or interest in it;

(b) to pledge it or deposit it as security;

(c) 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

(d) 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.

This article will examine the offence of theft, specifically theft over $5,000 in Ontario, its potential consequences, and what to do if you have been charged with theft.

Theft Over $5000 vs Theft Under $5000

There is a big difference if someone steals a $100 clothing item or a $10,000 diamond ring. When it comes to theft, the Criminal Code of Canada draws a distinct line at the amount of $5,000. The difference in the two offences lies in the severity of the consequences and the legal procedures. 

It is important to note that to determine the value of the stolen item itself does not necessarily determine the offence, but instead what can be considered is the total value of the items stolen. For example, even if none of the stolen items have a value of more than $5,000 if the total value surpasses $5,000, it could still be considered theft over $5,000. In this scenario, one could potentially be charged with multiple counts of theft under $5,000. Other factors may be considered when laying a charge including the period of time the offences occurred. 

Theft, whether under or over $5,000, is a hybrid offence, meaning the Crown attorney can elect whether to proceed by summary conviction or elect to proceed by indictment—the main difference between the two lies in the legal process and potential penalties. 

If the Crown elects to proceed summarily or by summary conviction offence, the matter will be prosecuted in the Provincial Court (Ontario Court of Justice), and the trial would take place before a judge alone. 

If the Crown elects to proceed by indictment, then the accused person will have the right to elect his or her mode of trial as such:

  • A trial in the Ontario Court of Justice before a judge alone
  • A trial in the Superior Court of Justice before a judge alone
  • A trial in the Superior Court of Justice before a judge and jury

Read more: The Differences Between Summary and Indictable Offences 

theft over 5000 ontarioPenalty for Theft Over $5000

As mentioned above, the severity of penalties can differ significantly between a charge for theft under and over $5,000. Section 334 of the Criminal Code of Canada states the potential punishment for theft over $5,000 as follows:

For theft over $5,000, the maximum penalty is:

If the Crown elects by indictment, no more than 10 years imprisonment.

If the Crown elects summarily, no more than 2 years less a day imprisonment

For theft under $5,000, the maximum penalty: 

If the Crown elects by indictment, no more than 2 years less a day imprisonment.

If the Crown elects summarily, no more than 2 years less a day imprisonment.

The consequences of a conviction for theft over $5,000 does not stop at a potential jail sentence. If you are convicted, you will also have a criminal conviction, which can have wide-reaching consequences on your everyday life. Theft is considered to be a crime of dishonesty and may also impact one’s credibility to testify in court as a witness. A criminal conviction for theft can negatively impact your ability to find employment, travel, or your immigration status.

Potential Defences for Theft Over $5000

Some common defences in theft over $5,000 cases include, but are not limited to the following issues:

  • Identity of the accused
  • No intention to steal anything or deprive the rightful owner
  • Reasonable explanation for how the accused came to be in possession of stolen property
  • Disputing the value of the stolen property is over $5,000
  • Proof of ownership of lawful property 

Factors Considered for Theft Over $5000 Sentencing

The following is non-exhaustive list of factors that may be considered in terms of mitigating or aggravating a sentence for theft over $5000: 

  • Age of offender
  • Criminal record 
  • Rehabilitation prospects
  • Support in the community
  • Nature and extent of losses
  • Guilty plea or finding or guilt after trial
  • Degree of sophistication, dishonesty, planning, skill and deception
  • Sole motivation is greed
  • Length of period of dishonesty
  • Breach of trust
  • Restitution
  • Impact on victims

What to Do If You Have Been Charged With Theft?

If you have been charged with theft over $5,000, we strongly recommend you immediately speak with a theft lawyer at Farjoud Law. After being arrested, you will have a bail hearing within 24 hours, and having an experienced criminal defence lawyer can increase your chances of making bail. The alternative would be to remain in custody until your trial.

The Crown can elect whether to proceed summarily or by indictment, so legal representation is critical. In the case of an indictment, the choice of trial mode can be crucial for your chances of success.

Facing a Theft Charge? Speak With a Theft Defence Lawyer 

If you have been charged with theft over $5,000, do not hesitate to call Farjoud Law at 647-606-6776 to speak directly to a criminal defence lawyer who personally answers all calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or fill out our convenient online form.

Farjoud Law has an outstanding track record defending clients charged with criminal offences. We are dedicated to professionalism, client services and passionate advocacy. 

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