Theft and shoplifting are two types of property criminal offences as defined under the Criminal Code of Canada. Theft and shoplifting are the taking of another’s property or money with the intention to deprive them the use and enjoyment of the property or money where the accused personally benefits from the act in some manner. The defendant does not need to retain the property or money after the commission of the act in order to benefit.

The Criminal Code of Canada specifies two distinctions for theft based upon whether the monetary value was under $5,000 or at least $5,000 or more. Shoplifting is normally viewed as a minor criminal offence due to the monetary value of the property being stolen. If you only shoplifted a few hundred dollars’ worth of items, you are charged with theft under $5,000. The Crown does look at the circumstances surround the theft as well as the actual monetary value before proceeding with a case and taking it to trail.

Is Trial Avoidable for Shoplifting?

It is possible for you to obtain diversion if the monetary value was minimal, have no previous criminal record, and did not work for the store where the items were stolen. Diversion does not imply your guilt, but might require you to acknowledge you actions from time to time that led to being charged. In order to complete a diversion agreement, the Crown may require you to perform a set number of community service hours, donate time or money to a charity, and/or attend a course lecture about shoplifting and its consequences. After completing the requirements outlined in a diversion agreement, normally the charges are withdrawn and nothing is recorded on your criminal record.

Is Diversion Possible for Theft over $5,000?

Diversion is normally not allowed for theft over $5,000 or in cases where you stole the property or cash from your employer. That being said, there are always exceptions, like if you return the stolen property or money.

How Is Monetary Values Established?

Unfortunately, there is no exact method used to establish the monetary value of property that is claimed to have been stolen. Typically, the owner of the property tends to inflate the value for insurance purposes or if the monetary value is close to, but under $5,000 to push it over $5,000 in hopes the Crown will pursue the case more seriously or to prevent diversion. There are ways to challenge the monetary values or property through the use of experts, like property appraisers, or by comparing prices of similar goods.

In situations where money was stolen, it is normally the defendant’s word against the victim’s as to the actual amount of cash taken. However, challenging cash values could greatly hurt your case, as the Crown may look at your challenge as an implication of your guilt.

No matter the seriousness of the shoplifting or theft offence, you should always seek professional legal representation. Your criminal defence lawyer in Toronto has the expertise to help prepare a strong defence, works in your interests and aggressively pursues the best possible outcome.

For a complimentary consultation to discuss your shoplifting or theft charges, contact Toronto criminal defence lawyer, Jeff Hershberg today at 416-428-7360.