Frequently Asked Questions
If I am Convicted of Theft, Will I have Permanent Criminal Record?
Sentencing is a very individualized process for the offender. During sentencing, a judge will determine the most fit and appropriate sentence for the convicted person. Different sentencing principles enumerated in section 718 of the Criminal Code each play an important role in determining this sentence. Principles such as denunciation, deterrence, separation, rehabilitation, providing reparations, and promoting a sense of responsibility each play an important factor in determining the appropriate sentence. The primary sentencing principle concerning theft is rehabilitation.
A theft case can result in various resolutions. Theft over $5,000 is indictable and may result in a jail sentence though other forms of resolution including a discharge are available. Theft under $5,000 is less likely to result in a jail sentence and more likely to resolve without a permanent criminal record.
The more serious the charge, the stricter the sentencing. The accused may also enter into a s. 810 peace bond, which means the accused would have to abide by certain rules enumerated in the peace bond in exchange for a withdrawal of the charge. Cases may also resolve by way of an absolute discharges or a conditional discharge. If an offender is granted a discharge they may have a criminal record for a short period of time, but it will not be permanent. In other cases, the Court may enter a suspended sentence, which will result in a permanent criminal record.
Will a Shoplifting Charge Appear on an Employment Background Check?
In the Canadian Criminal Code, there is no separate shoplifting offence enumerated. Shoplifting is often considered theft under s. 322 and is typically charged as theft under $5,000 under section 334(b) or theft over $5,000 pursuant to section 334(a). This means that on the Court documents, the offender is not charged with shoplifting, but theft instead.
It is not typically in the public interest to prosecute shoplifting harshly. The offender may be asked to complete a diversion program in exchange for the Crown withdrawing their case. A conditional discharge will not permanently appear on the criminal record or employment background check but may appear during the probationary period and for a period thereafter. Three years after the end of the probationary period, the record will be sealed and will no longer appear on a simple employment background check.
Can the Police Lie to You?
The police often employ various investigative techniques, and this includes lying. During an arrest, the police may lie to the suspect to get information out of the suspect. If the contested property was lost or missing, the police may want to get such information out of the suspect. The police are not obligated to tell anyone the truth, except in the case of their rights. During an arrest, the police must disclose the accused’s rights.
Upon arrest or detention, certain rights of the accused are suspended, while others are triggered. Sections 7, 9, 10, and 11 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees a person being charged of their rights so that the justice system does not come into disrepute. Section 7 enumerates the right to life, liberty, and security of the person. Section 9 guarantees everyone the right to not be arbitrarily detained. Section 10 of the Charter guarantees everyone the right to counsel. Finally, section 11 of the Charter guarantees the right to be tried within a reasonable time.
Will the Charges be Dropped if I Return the Item?
This situation may depend on whether the accused has been arrested already. If the accused has already been charged, the chances are very likely that the charges will not be dropped, at least not right away. Once the police lay a charge it’s not in their discretion to take it back. The file will be transferred to the Crown’s office and which point only the Crown has the authority to withdrawal the charge.
The return of the item is a strong mitigating factor. However, without sufficient mitigating factors, the Crown may refuse to negotiate. The value of the theft, the return of the item, and a guilty plea may all be mitigating factors in the case.
What If I Stole a Car?
The offence of theft of a motor vehicle is enumerated under section 333.1(1) of the Criminal Code. A car is different from regular typical property, as theft of a motor vehicle is often committed with ancillary offences.
In addition to proving the elements of theft, the Crown must also prove the property is a motor vehicle. Theft of a motor vehicle is a hybrid offence that may either be summarily elected or indictable. If the offender has a record of two prior convictions or more and the case is prosecuted by indictment, there is a mandatory minimum of six months incarceration. Upon indictment, the maximum penalty for theft of a motor vehicle is ten years in prison. If prosecuted by summary election, the maximum penalty for theft of a motor vehicle is 18 months incarceration.