Keeping your Charges Private

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Often persons charged with shoplifting will be concerned about people finding out they have been charged. Outstanding criminal charges may impact your personal and professional life. We understand why you might want to keep knowledge of your criminal charges private. You could have a lot to lose if your family members, friends or coworkers found out you were facing charges in court.

The best way to try and keep criminal charges private is to work closely with counsel to resolve your charges as favourably and as quickly as possible. Defence counsel will help you determine a strategy and can negotiate with Crown counsel on your behalf to help you attain the best result possible in your case.

However, it is not always possible to keep your criminal charges secret. Our courts are open to the public and it is always possible someone you know from your personal or professional life will also be at court on the same day as you. Counsel can help you in this regard as well. For some appearances, counsel can appear on your behalf, which will save you the time of going to court and will minimize the likelihood of people recognizing you at court. If you wish to keep your charges private, it is important you contact counsel and make your wishes known.

Can I keep my charges private from my spouse and/or children?

It is understandable why you might be nervous or anxious about your family members learning of your criminal charges. Usually, whether or not your family finds out will be your choice.

One important thing to consider is that any information you share with your lawyer is confidential between you and the lawyer. This means even if your child or spouse contacted our law firm we would not be able to disclose any information to them, including whether or not you are a client, unless you give us permission to do so. It is your choice to decide whether or not you want us to keep the fact that you are a client of ours secret.

There are other ways that we can help you keep your criminal charges a private matter. At one of our first meetings, we will go over your preferred methods of communication with our firm. Often communication methods are determined based on what your priorities are. If you don’t want your family or employer to know you are meeting with a lawyer, then we can avoid sending any communications to a shared address or phone number.

We can also accept service of any documents related to your court proceedings. This is desirable for clients who want to minimize knowledge among others about their criminal charges as it means there is a safe third party location to have communications sent to.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide if you want to share information about your criminal charges with your family. However, it is important to keep in mind that courts are public forums. It is always possible that family members could hear of your criminal charges from someone else who was in court that day.

Will my community learn about my shoplifting charges?

It is always possible people will learn about your charges. Courts are open to the public. However, our firm can help minimize your exposure to the formal criminal justice process. We will take every step possible to protect your privacy. One of the first things we can do upon meeting with you is develop a plan to address your concern and priorities. We will go over your wishes regarding communication with third parties.

Once my matter is concluded, will people learn about my charges?

Knowledge of your criminal charges may or may not follow you after the conclusion of your matter. It all depends on how your charges are resolved. For example, if your charges are withdrawn, then you will have no criminal record. If you get a discharge, then you will also have no formal criminal record.

However, other resolutions may leave you with a criminal record that will follow you.

It is important to canvas sentences with your counsel and the consequences that accompany any resolution.

Criminal Record Checks

Employers will commonly ask you for a criminal record check before they offer you a job. Your local police service will usually offer a record check. A basic record check will verify whether you have a criminal record and will provide the applicant (your prospective employer) with detailed information about any convictions that can legally be disclosed.

If you think you will require a clear criminal record check in the future, you should contact defence counsel as soon as shoplifting charges are laid. We will do the best we can to try and secure the result you want, however each case depends on the charges laid, your circumstances and the circumstances surrounding the offence.

Vulnerable Sector Check

If you apply for employment or volunteer work where you will be in a position of trust or authority over children, seniors or other vulnerable persons, then you will often have to complete a vulnerable sector check. This process looks at whether or not an individual has a criminal record, as well as any record suspensions (formerly pardons) for sexual offences. The check also looks at whether there are any local police records with information relevant to the vulnerable sector check.

Information that can be legally disclosed will be provided to the applicant. Therefore, if you think you will be working with vulnerable persons in the future, you should make sure to discuss this with your counsel and seek appropriate advice.

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