If you are facing theft, shoplifting or financial criminal charges in Toronto, you should call an experienced Toronto theft lawyer immediately. Theft crimes can carry serious legal consequences, including expensive fines, a criminal record, and even a jail sentence.
Legal definition of theft
Under Canadian law, theft is committed when a person takes or converts anything with intent to deprive the owner of it. The definition includes dealing with the property in a manner that makes it impossible to return in the condition it was in when it was taken. This means that when a person takes another person’s property intending to keep it, or damages it, they have committed theft.
A common example of theft includes the taking of an item from a store without paying for the item also known as shoplifting. It should be noted, that in the shoplifting scenario, it is not necessary for the person to leave the store in order to complete the offence of theft. As long as there is evidence that the person intended to leave the store without paying for the items they can be charged with theft
The criminal offence of theft is found in section 322 of the Criminal Code in Part IX called “Offences Against Rights of Property”. This section defines theft and raises some of the legal issues that often accompany a charge of theft such as: proof of ownership; conversion; intent to deprive the owner; and, colour of right.
By contrast, the penalties for theft are found in section 334 of the Criminal Code. That section creates a dividing line between thefts where the value of the property is under $5,000, and those where the value of the property is over $5,000.
When a person is charged with theft under $5,000 this is a hybrid offence where the Crown has to elect between proceeding by way of indictment or proceeding summarily. The maximum sentence for theft under $5,000 where the crown proceeds by indictment is 2 years in jail. Theft is an indictable offence where the value of the property is over $5,000. The maximum sentence for theft over $5,000 is ten years in jail.
Despite the harsh maximum sentences in the Criminal Code, the most common disposition for theft charges is a community based justice program. These programs are often referred to as diversion. Diversion programs are more commonly available for cases where the value of property stolen is less than $5000.
Eligibility for these programs will sometimes depend on whether the defendant is a first time offender with theft charges, or whether the theft under $5,000 is a second offence. Another factor that is considered is whether or not the theft was from the employer of the person.
If diversion is offered, this means that you will have to complete a shoplifting program or some community service. In return the charge will be dismissed and your court case will be completed within a short time. However, it is possible that prosecutors will make a higher initial offer if the facts of the case are particularly egregious.
Charged with theft or shoplifting?
If you or someone you know is arrested for theft you should contact a criminal defence lawyer immediately. A criminal defence lawyer can walk you through the process and guarantee that your rights are protected. Contact the law office of Deniz Sarikaya immediately at 647-282-5777, and set up your free consultation.