FIRST OFFENDER? DEFEND THEFT CHARGES IN OTTAWA.  1-866-DEFENCE.

Theft is among the most common offences before the Court in Ottawa and throughout Ontario. Shoplifting is one of the most common ways individuals are charged with theft. Donich Law has experience defending those charged with low level shoplifting offences as well as those charged in more complex, high value theft offences. In many cases, otherwise law-abiding citizens make bad decisions and are charged with a criminal offence. While shoplifting may seem like a minor offence it can lead to criminal sanctions and a criminal record which may impact an accused’s life for years.

Donich Law has experience defending those charged with shoplifting from numerous retailers throughout Southern Ontario including LCBO, Winners, Home Depot, Sephora, Shoppers Drug Mart, Holt Renfrew, Loblaw, the Bay, Yorkdale Mall and the Toronto Eaton Center. We regularly negotiate directly with retailers to resolve shoplifting matters without the involvement of law enforcement.

In 2018, Donich Law represented an individual charged with nine fraud offences in R. V. Z.U. [2018]. The client was alleged to have been participating in a sophisticated theft and money laundering scheme. After defrauding and stealing money from elderly individual’s, the accused allegedly converted the cash into gold bullion which was then transported over the United States border. The investigation involved law enforcement from both Canada and the United States. After litigating for some time, the Firm secured a stay on all charges.

In 2017, Donich Law represented an individual charged with 9 counts of fraud in R. v. S.A. [2017]. The accused, a Canada Post employee, allegedly attempted to defraud a bank of roughly $50,000. The Firm negotiated with the Crown to secure the withdrawal of all charges.

In 2016, Donich Law represented an individual charged with theft after allegedly participating in a sophisticated employee theft ring. The accused individuals stole several thousand dollars’ worth of Blue Jays merchandise from the Rogers Center. The Firm negotiated with the Crown to have the charges against the accused withdrawn.

If you have been charged with theft or caught shoplifting it is important to hire experienced legal counsel to protect your rights. Donich Law has experience defending a wide variety of theft under $5,000 and theft over $5,000 offences and can assist you in developing the best strategy to defend your set of allegations.

Having a complete understanding of the Elements of the Criminal Offence, Your Rights and the Consequences associated with a Criminal Record is necessary before any legal decisions are made.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Theft?
What is Shoplifting?
What is Possession of Property Obtained by Crime?
What are the Best Defences to Theft in Ottawa?
What are Common Sentences for Those Convicted of Theft in Ottawa?
What are Common Sentences for Those Convicted of Possession of Proceeds Obtained by Crime in Ottawa?
What are the Penalties for Motor Vehicle Theft in Ottawa?

Additional Resources

Assault
Assaulting a Peace Officer
Sentencing Factors
Keeping Your Charges Private
Release from Police Custody
Theft From Your Employer
Resolving Shoplifting Charges
U.S. Waivers
Vulnerable Sector Screening
Consequences of a Criminal Record
Immigration Consequences
Elements of a Crime
Your Rights

What is Theft?

The offence of theft is outlined in section 322(1) of the Criminal Code. The Code states that an individual has committed a criminal offence when they fraudulently or without colour of right, convert to their own use or take any item or thing, with the intent to dispossess the rightful owner or someone with a special property interest in the item or thing, or deposit it or pledge it as security, or deal with it in such a way that is cannot be returned in the condition it was in prior to be taken or converted, or part with the thing or item under a condition of its return that may not be fulfilled.

Theft defences are divided into two categories based on the value of the item(s) or thing(s) taken or converted. Where the value exceeds $5,000 the accused will be charged with theft over $5,000. Where the value does not exceed $5,000, the accused will be charged with theft under $5,000.

What is Shoplifting?

Shoplifting is a specific type of theft. There is no separate offence in the Criminal Code for shoplifting. Those who are caught shoplifting will be charged with either theft under $5,000 or theft over $5,000. An individual is guilty of shoplifting when they remove items from a retail store without making an attempt to pay for them. An individual who is still in possession of the stolen items at the time they are arrested may also be charged with possession of property obtained by crime.

What is Possession of Property Obtained by Crime?

Possession of property obtained by crime is outlined in section 354(1) of the Criminal Code. The Code states that an individual is guilty of a criminal offence when they have in their possession, any property or thing, or proceeds of any property or thing, knowing that all or part of the item was obtained by or derived from, either directly or indirectly, the commission of an indictable offence in Canada, or an equivalent offence outside of Canada. This charge is commonly laid when individuals are charged with motor vehicle theft.

Possession of property obtained by crime is a hybrid offence. Where the value of the items taken or converted exceed $5,000 or involve a testamentary instrument and the Crown proceeds by indictment, the accused will face a maximum of ten years in prison. Where the Crown proceeds summarily the accused will face a maximum of two years less a day in jail and/or up to a $5,000 fine. Where the value of the items taken or converted do not exceed $5,000 and the Crown proceeds by indictment, the accused will face a maximum of two years in prison. Where the Crown proceeds summarily the accused will face a maximum of two years less a day in jail, up to a $5,000 fine or both.

What are the Best Defences to Theft in Ottawa?

Theft is among the most common offences before the Court in Ottawa. In some cases, otherwise law-abiding citizens have made a bad decision. In other cases, an accused may have genuinely believed they had colour of right in the item. Defences commonly used to challenge a theft charge in Ottawa include arguing colour of right or arguing honest but mistaken belief.

A person has colour of right in an item when they have a legal interest in the item. An individual may use this defence when they were charged with theft despite having a lawful property interest in the item(s). For example, if an individual was accused of shoplifting but had actually paid for the items, they had colour of right in the items and cannot be convicted of theft.

In other situations, an accused may argue that they had an honest but mistaken belief that they had colour of right over the property. To successfully use this defence the accused must convince the Court that they genuinely believed they had a right to the item and had no intention to deprive the rightful owner of the item.

hat are Common Sentences for Those Convicted of Theft in Ottawa?

Theft offences are quite common throughout Ontario. Due to the wide range in value of items that may be stolen, the sentences for those convicted may range significantly from one offender to the next. In cases involving minor theft offences, an accused may be granted a discharge or suspended sentence. This would allow the accused to complete a period of probation and have the charge removed from their record at the end of the probationary period. An accused may also receive probation, a fine or community service for theft.

In more serious cases or where the accused has a criminal history, the Court may sentence an offender to a period of incarceration. Theft under $5,000 and theft over $5,000 are both hybrid offences. This allows the Crown to proceed summarily or by indictment, which will influence the maximum penalties applicable should the accused be convicted.

In cases where the accused is charged with theft under $5,000 and the Crown proceeds summarily, an accused will face a maximum of two years less a day in jail, up to a $5,000 fine or both. Where the Crown proceeds by indictment an accused will face a maximum of two years in prison. Where the accused is charged with theft over $5,000 and the Crown proceeds summarily, an accused will face a maximum of two years less a day in jail, up to a $5,000 fine or both. Where the Crown proceeds by indictment, an accused will face a maximum of ten years in prison.

Due to the serious criminal sanctions that may be imposed on an individual even for shoplifting, it is important to hire legal counsel to assist you in fighting your case. Donich Law can assist you in developing the best defence for your set of allegations.

What are Common Sentences for Those Convicted of Possession of Proceeds Obtained by Crime in Ottawa?

Possession of property obtained by crime is a hybrid offence. This allows the Crown to elect to proceed summarily or by indictment based on the nature and severity of the allegations. Where the accused is charged with possession of property obtained by crime, the value is less than $5,000 and the Crown proceeds summarily, an accused will face a maximum of two years less a day in jail, up to a $5,000 fine or both. Where the Crown proceeds by indictment an accused will face a maximum of two years in prison. Where the value exceeds $5,000 and the Crown proceeds summarily, an accused will face up to two years less a day in jail, up to a $5,000 fine or both. Where the Crown proceeds by indictment, the accused will face up to ten years in prison.

hat are the Penalties for Motor Vehicle Theft in Ottawa?

Motor vehicle theft is outlined in section 333.1(1) of the Criminal Code. The Code states that an individual is guilty of a criminal offence when they commit theft and the property stolen is a motor vehicle.

Motor vehicle theft is a hybrid offence. This allows the Crown to elect to proceed summarily or by indictment depending on the nature and severity of the allegations. This election will impact the maximum penalties that may be imposed on the accused should they be convicted. Where the Crown proceeds summarily, an accused will face a maximum of two years less a day in jail, up to a $5,000 fine or both. Where the Crown proceeds by indictment, an accused will face a maximum of ten years in prison. Where an accused is convicted of a third or subsequent offence, they will face a minimum of six months in jail upon conviction.

If you have been charged with theft in Ottawa, Donich Law can advocate for your rights and guide you through the criminal justice process. We can help you develop the best defence for your set of allegations to ensure the best outcome.

Quick Facts

What is Theft?

As outlined in the Criminal Code, an individual is guilty of theft when they fraudulently or without colour of right take or convert an item or thing, with the intent to deprive the rightful owner or someone with a special property interest of it, or deposit it as security, or pledge it, or deal with it in such a way that it cannot be returned to the condition it was in when it was taken or converted, or part with it under a condition of its return that may not be fulfilled.

What is the Difference Between Shoplifting and Theft?

Shoplifting is a specific type of theft. An individual who is caught shoplifting will be charged with either theft under $5,000 or theft over $5,000 depending on the value of the item(s) taken. Shoplifting is one of the most common ways individuals are charged with theft.

Will I go to Jail for Theft?

In some cases, yes. When determining the most appropriate sentence for an offender the Court will weigh may different factors including the criminal history of the accused, the nature and severity of the allegations, the value of the item(s) taken and any other aggravating or mitigating factors. The maximum penalties for theft range from two years less a day in jail to ten years in prison.

What if I am a First-Time Offender Charged with Theft?

First-time offenders who have been charged with theft will most commonly be sentenced to a period of probation, given fines or ordered to complete community service for a theft conviction. In minor cases, a first-time offender may be granted a discharge or record suspension for theft.

What if I was Caught Shoplifting but Not Arrested?

In some jurisdictions throughout Ontario, police have begun giving out warnings to those caught committing low value shoplifting offences. This means that while the police may have been called, they did not lay any criminal charges against the accused. In these cases, it is unlikely that the police will decide to return and lay charges in the future.

What are the Maximum Penalties for Motor Vehicle Theft?

Motor vehicle theft is one of the more serious theft offences. Those who are convicted may be sentenced to a period of incarceration. Custodial sentences can range from a maximum of two years less a day to ten years in prison. Where an accused is convicted of a third or subsequent motor vehicle theft offence, they will be sentenced to a minimum of six months in jail.

What if I Stole from my Employer?

In Canada, there is no separate criminal offence for stealing from one’s employer. Instead, an individual who is alleged to have stolen from their employer will be charged with theft under $5,000 or theft over $5,000 depending on the value of the item(s) taken. The fact that an accused stole from their employer will be seen by the Court as an aggravating factor in the case.

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