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Defend Theft Under $5000

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Our Experience

Theft occurs when an individual takes an item or something else of value that they do not have a legal right to. Theft can occur in a wide variety of circumstances. For example, theft can include shoplifting, stealing another person’s car, stealing a pet or other animal, time theft at work, stealing services or stealing directly from another person. Donich Law has experience representing a wide variety of theft situations.

In 2016, our Firm provided legal representation for an individual accused of involvement in a well-organized theft operation that targeted multiple retail establishments across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), as seen in R. v. K.L. [2015]. The accused came under the scrutiny of law enforcement after being reported by the loss prevention staff at both Target and Staples stores. Through negotiations with the Crown during pre-trial proceedings, our Firm successfully achieved the withdrawal of eight charges related to theft and fraud.

In 2015, our Firm provided legal counsel to a client who was facing charges of theft and fraud under $5,000 in R. v. G.G. [2015]. The accused, who worked as a bank teller at a prominent Canadian bank, was accused of embezzling money while performing their duties. The bank’s vigilant loss prevention team detected the suspicious activities and promptly reported the employee to their management, who subsequently involved law enforcement authorities. Our Firm successfully resolved the case by raising significant doubts about crucial pieces of evidence against the accused, resulting in the withdrawal of all charges.

In 2016, Donich Law provided legal representation for a licensed physician who faced allegations of shoplifting clothing from The Bay in R. v. S.Y. [2016]. The client was apprehended by store loss prevention staff while purportedly trying to exit the store with approximately $3,000 worth of unpaid merchandise. Given the client’s status as a regulated professional, there were potential ramifications from their governing regulatory body. Our Firm successfully obtained a withdrawal of the charges, leading to the destruction of the client’s fingerprints and photographs, thus safeguarding their professional standing from any adverse consequences.

In 2020, the Firm effectively represented a client who was facing accusations of involvement in a fraud and theft scheme connected to Home Depot stores, as documented in the case of R. v. M.K. [2020]. The suspicions emerged when the Home Depot’s loss prevention staff initiated an inquiry due to their suspicion that a customer was pilfering items and subsequently returning them to the store for cash refunds. This prompted the loss prevention team to report the situation to the police, who conducted an investigation that led to the discovery of the theft ring. Our firm successfully resolved the case, ensuring that our client did not receive a criminal record.

Punishments for Theft Depend on the Value of Property

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Theft from one’s employer is quite common in Ontario. This includes stealing physical products from an employer and can also include what is known as time theft. An employee commits time theft when they collect wages for hours they did not work or work they did not complete. A common example of employee time theft is an employee who “clocks in” to work before they have actually started working, thus being paid for time they were not working. An individual who commits time theft may be charged with theft over or under $5,000, depending on the total alleged company loss.

In 2021, our Firm provided legal representation for two co-accused individuals who were charged with theft under $5,000 for their alleged involvement in shoplifting from a grocery store. These cases were identified as R. v. D.H. [2021] and R. v. M.S. [2021]. The accused parties were apprehended together by loss prevention personnel, with approximately $1,000 worth of unpaid products in their possession. Both were first-time offenders and relatively young. To help these individuals, our firm recommended proactive measures and engaged in negotiations with the Crown during pre-trial discussions, ultimately securing the withdrawal of charges for both clients.

How to Defend Theft Under $5000

In 2021, our law firm provided legal representation to an individual who faced allegations of engaging in time theft in the case of R. v. K.S. [2021]. The accused was charged with theft exceeding $5,000 and the falsification of employment records. Time theft refers to the act of falsely claiming wages for hours not actually worked, and it can manifest through various means, such as inaccurately recording work hours, manipulating an hour log without authorization, or asserting to have worked hours that were not worked. In this particular case, our client was accused of using their manager’s computer credentials to access the company system and add hours to their timesheet, resulting in an amount exceeding $15,000. Our Firm presented compelling evidence to demonstrate that the manager had willingly provided their login credentials, and the accused had indeed worked the disputed hours from home. Consequently, the Crown dropped the charges against our client.

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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.

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Recent Cases

R. v. Thakur, 2020 ONSC 8198

The accused entered a guilty plea to one count of theft under $5,000 in the Ontario Superior Court Case of R. v. Thakur. The Durham Regional Police Service conducted a sting operation against Hasen Aswat, another Durham police officer. The accused was Aswat’s friend. As a result of the sting operation, Aswat came into possession $5,000 in cash in a bag originally the property of the DRPS. The accused was led to believe that the bag was from a drug dealer that left it in an Uber. Aswat shared the money with the accused to buy a fishing boat, reporting only the bag to the authorities.

The issue of the case was whether there would be a conditional or absolute discharge. During the sentencing process, the Court discussed the several sentencing principles that were most urgent. They were denunciation, deterrence, and promoting responsibility for the offence. Taking note of the offender’s good record, his guilty plea, his full restitution, his acceptance of responsibility, his accomplishments and subsequent resignation as a member of the DRPS, and his particular circumstances, the Court ruled that would be absolutely discharged. The fishing boat was returned to him.

R. v. Ralston, 2019 ONCJ 488

The accused was charged with mischief, theft under $5,000, break and entry and theft, and breach of a recognizance of a bail condition in the Ontario Court of Justice case of R. v. Ralston. The accused was arrested after a call to the police from a neighbour suspicious about a man walking down the street with various suitcases. The complainant and the accused were in a five-year relationship but separated. As the accused was in the home without the complainant’s consent and the complainant had locked the door, it amounted to a break and enter.

The accused alleged that the items in the suitcase were his, removed from the complainant’s home. However, the accused did not provide any proof of ownership or evidence that he owned any of the properties. The trial judge also did not find there to be an air of reality in the accused’s testimony. As a person cannot be convicted of two offences as a result of the same act (pursuant to the Kienapple principle), the separate charge of theft was stayed. The accused was found guilty of break and entry and theft.

R. v. Hugill, 2019 ONSC 1448

The accused stole cheques in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice case of R. v. Hugill. He was charged with theft under $5,000 (the value of the paper cheques), in addition to various fraud charges related to the cheques. The complainant and the accused were brothers and they inherited farms from their father. Collaborating in the farming business, they often worked together though they had separate finances. The accused would occasionally require and request money from the complainant, who would loan the money to the accused.

The accused was suspected of cashing in cheques with the forged signature of the complainant on it. The Court also took into account the factor that the accused had bipolar disorder, which the complainant supported him with. In order to prove theft under $5,000, the Crown had to prove that the identity of the accused, that he committed the act, with the intent of committing that act. The Crown could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the cheques were all fraudulent. As a result, the defendant was acquitted of the theft under $5,000 charge.

About the Author

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Jordan Donich

Jordan Donich has been a Lawyer for over 10 years and is a trusted legal analyst by Canadian Media. He is as a leader in Canada’s tech sector for lawyers and developer of Law Newbie. Jordan is a Black Belt with the Japan Karate Association and trained in Krav Maga. He won a Gold Medal at 2004 Canadian National Championships and was published in the National Newspaper Awards.

Jordan has been featured in Forbes and is a member of DMZ Angels in Toronto.