We're all familiar with the mainstream definition of theft: we know it to occur when someone takes something that doesn't belong to them, and do so without the permission of the item's lawful owner.
The technical definition of theft is the stealing of property, money or other animate objects of value from a person or their agent, with the intention of depriving them of the said item, while simultaneously converting it for your own personal use and benefit. The Criminal Code of Canada articulates two main categories of theft offences: theft under $5000, and theft over $5000.
Under Canadian criminal law, there are several different types of theft that a person can commit. The most common of these is the offence of shoplifting, or any theft that occurs from a retail outlet or institution, as opposed to theft from a normal private person. The law views shoplifting as a special type of theft, mainly because it occurs under unique circumstances. For example, an alleged shoplifter typically acts in an impulsive manner, as opposed to a well thought out crime that was premeditated. Additionally, persons with compulsive-type syndromes, like kleptomania, may require special consideration under the law because of a mental illness they may suffer from. As a general rule, persons accused of shoplifting are treated less seriously under the Canadian criminal law, but should always seek the advice of an experienced Toronto Theft Lawyer. They can help you avoid a criminal conviction altogether by enrolling you in a diversionary program, and you may not even have to appear in court.
Despite the fact that theft/shoplifting is a relatively minor criminal offence, if you’re found guilty of this property-related crime, there can be a profound impact on any future employment prospects you may have, as well as limiting your ability to travel, particularly to the United States. If you’ve been charged with theft or shoplifting, you should always seek the assistance of a Toronto Theft Lawyer, who can ensure that your criminal record remains clean, and your reputation unaffected.
In many cases involving theft or shoplifting, the accused person is charged despite a lack of intention to steal on their part. This typically occurs when you leave a retail establishment with an item that you’ve forgotten to pay for. If this has happened to you, don’t worry, LawyerSelect.ca will put you in touch with a Toronto Theft Lawyer who sympathizes with your situation, and will do all they can to obtain your acquittal. However, you should not attempt to fight the charges alone. Even a well-intentioned explanation to the judge regarding your lack of intention to steal can fall on deaf ears, as many people unsuccessfully try to justify their actions in this way.
At LawyerSelect.ca, we work with a plethora of experienced and talented Toronto Theft Lawyers who are fully capable of persuading the Crown Attorney to withdraw charges against individuals accused of minor property related crimes. This will avoid the expenses and embarrassment of going to trial on the matter, and allow you to return your life back to normal.
If your matter goes to trial, then the Crown Attorney will be required to prove to the court beyond a reasonable doubt that you were the person that (1) took the item in question, (2) with the intent to either permanently or termporarily deprive the rightful owner of the said object, (3) by fraudulent means, without any right to the item.
What is Diversion?
A diversionary program in the Ontario Criminal Justice System is a type of sentence where the accused enrolls in a rehabilitation program that is designed to help remedy the behaviour leading to the arrest, but by avoiding a criminal conviction and a criminal record.
In general, to have your theft/shoplifting charges diverted, you'll need to complete a set amount of community volunteer hours, make a money donation to a charitable institution, and/or attend a seminar on theft/shoplifting behaviour prevention.
Not all diversionary programs are created equal. Depending on the seriousness of the allegations, as well as the ability of your Toronto Theft Lawyer, you may be required to formally acknowledge wrongdoing and admit guilt. This result typically occurs when the diversionary program you've agreed to involves an absolute or conditional discharge. The more savvy Toronto Theft Lawyers were obtain a withdrawal of your charges upon proof of completion of the required up front work. This is the best type of diversion, because it results in the charges being withdrawn, as opposed to an entering of guilt and a subsequent discharge.
Are you Eligible for Diversion?
The various criminal courts throughout Ontario have established their own unique diversionary system, which responds to the needs of their geographic region. As a general rule, however, eligibility for a diversionary program is almost always made by the Crown Attorney’s office. If the offence in question is of a relatively minor nature, then the Crown Attorney screening the matter may pre-approve it for diversionary eligibility. However, individuals who have had prior dealings with the police (even if charges were not laid), as well as those alleged to have committed a more serious theft-related offence, will not generally be eligible for diversion.
What Happens in a Diversionary Program?
The various criminal courts throughout Ontario have established their own unique diversionary system, which responds to the needs of their geographic region. As a general rule, however, eligibility for a diversionary program is almost always made by the Crown Attorney’s office. If the offence in question is of a relatively minor nature, then the Crown Attorney screening the matter may pre-approve it for diversionary eligibility. However, individuals who have had prior dealings with the police (even if charges were not laid), as well as those alleged to have committed a more serious theft-related offence, will not generally be eligible for diversion. In those cases, you will need the expertise of a Toronto Theft Lawyer to persuade the Crown Attorney to allow you to enrol in the diversionary program.
Once you’re enrolled in diversion, you may be required to complete one, or a number, of different tasks or obligations. Some Toronto Courthouses will require you to watch a video on theft and/or shoplifting, while others may require that you make a charitable donation as well as complete a number of volunteer hours. Whatever the specific requirements are, the result that is typically obtained from a completed diversionary program is the withdrawal of the charges at the request of the Crown Attorney. This is a very desired outcome, as it does not result in any permanent criminal record.
For the most part, convictions for theft/shoplifting were result in relatively minor sentences, like probation and mandatory community service. However, some of the other theft-related offences, such as theft from an employer, will be considered as more serious and treated differently by the Crown Attorney. In cases arising from an employment context, there is a likelihood that an additional charge of breach of trust will be added to the list of offences. In such circumstances, it is unlikely that an accused would be eligible for diversion. In fact, a jail sentence for a first time offender is not uncommon in these situations, depending on the nature of the allegations.
Other types of theft, such as theft from an employer, are considered far more serious than shoplifting. The reason the courts and Crown Attorney's office treat these cases differently is due to the breach of trust that is committed by the employee. It is unlikely that a person charged with a breach of trust will be eligible for the diversion program. In fact, this type of an offence may even carry a jail sentence for a first time offender depending on the nature and severity of the allegation. That's why it is vitally important to consult with an experienced Toronto Theft Lawyer, who will help you navigate the diversionary program, or obtain enrollment in diversion even if it was denied at the outset. At LawyerSelect.ca, we know which Toronto Theft Lawyers are skilled enough to help you win your case, and we'll do all we can to put you in touch with them.