Theft charges from your place of employment is a more aggravating offence than shoplifting from a store or place of business where you do not work. This is because there is a special relationship of trust between employees and employers.
Stealing from your employer is a serious criminal offence because you are breaching a relationship of trust. Breaking a relationship of trust makes shoplifting from an employer a more serious crime, even though the charges could be the same as other shoplifting charges. Instead, the way the offence is approached by the Crown prosecutor is usually different given the special relationship. If your employer catches you shoplifting, you will likely be fired immediately and could face consequences through your workplace. However, you could also face criminal charges if your employer notifies police of your actions.
There is no special crime in the Criminal Code for shoplifting from your employer. Instead, charges are brought under existing provisions of the Code. Typical charges if you are caught shoplifting from work include:
Is the court process different when Theft occurs in the employee/employer context?
The context of your shoplifting offence can be important at all stages of the court process. Employee shoplifting may be considered as a special circumstance that the police, Crown and other justice officials will consider when deciding to lay charges, when screening charges or when deciding what sentence is appropriate for you.
- Police Decision to Lay Charges
Police may look at shoplifting charges in the employee context as different from other shoplifting charges when initially laying charges. Police have a lot of discretion to decide whether they will lay charges in a particular situation and what charges they will lay.
Police also have a wide discretion to consider a number of circumstances when making their decision to lay charges. Where your shoplifting offence relates to a position of employment, this is an aggravating circumstance and it may affect how police use their discretion.
- Crown Screening of Charges
After the police lay charges, a court date will be set and the Crown will receive information from the police about what happened. The Crown will often look through this evidence and “screen” charges before you first appear in court. Screening allows the Crown to prepare disclosure for an accused person and allows the Crown to take an initial position on what sentence or resolution they think is appropriate in the circumstances.
The Crown has a lot of discretion when screening charges. They will also consider a large number of circumstances. The Crown will likely find shoplifting aggravating when it is committed in the employee-employer context. This might change how the Crown approaches your case and what resolution they propose. In general, the Crown will treat shoplifting from your employer as more serious than regular shoplifting.
With most criminal charges, the Crown will also have to decide how to proceed. Hybrid offences can be prosecuted either summarily or by indictment. Summary offences have less serious consequences and penalties than indictable ones. Given the breach of trust when shoplifting is done in the employee-employer context, it is a real possibility that you could be facing indictable proceedings.
- Resolution of Criminal Charges
All criminal charges are eventually resolved and a majority of offences are now resolved after discussions between defence counsel and the Crown. Sometimes when the Crown and defence are negotiating resolution there are other parties in the court system that become involved. For example, the Direct Accountability Office (Diversion) or Probation may be included in a resolution.
Shoplifting from your employer may impact your ability to participate in Direct Accountability or Probation. Since these charges are generally treated as more serious, your resolution options may be limited. It is important to have defence counsel assist you if you have contact with any of these agencies to ensure your case is appropriately presented.
Can shoplifting from my employer affect other areas of my life?
As mentioned above, you will most likely be terminated from your job. However, other consequences can surely follow. If there are criminal charges pending against you for employee shoplifting, you could also face any or all of these additional consequences:
- Criminal Record;
- Travel Restrictions;
- Inability to find another Job;
- Relationship Issues