If you have charged with theft, or any other crime, the best way to protect your rights is to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. This informational article should help you to understand this common criminal charge.
There are several charges in the Criminal Code related to thefts of specific objects (i.e.: theft of a motor vehicle and there is even a specific section dealing with theft of oysters!). If the theft in question does not deal with one of those specific objects, there are two charges related to thefts generally. Those are Theft Under $5000 and Theft over $5000.
Theft Under $5000
Being the less serious of the two offences, there are lighter punishments attached to Theft under $5000. Theft under $5,000 is a “hybrid” offence, meaning the crown can choose to treat it as an indictable or a summary conviction charge, depending on the severity and circumstances of the crime. If the crown proceeds by indictment the maximum sentence is 2 years imprisonment and if the crown proceeds by summary conviction the maximum sentence is 6 months imprisonment.
For first offences of very low value, like shop lifting, often Diversion will be offered as a plea option. By agreeing to Diversion you “take responsibility” for your crime and you will not have a conviction registered on your record, once you complete the Diversion requirements. There are a few different requirements that can be attached to a Diversion offer, including attending a stop shop theft course, writing a letter of apology, completing community service, etc.
Theft Over $5000
Theft over $5000 is an indictable offence. If convicted the maximum sentence is 10 years imprisonment. If you are charged with theft over $5000 you should seek the assistance of a criminal defence lawyer immediately.
Defences to Theft
There are several defences to theft charges that you can raise at trial, which one to use will depend heavily on the individual facts of the case. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can assist you in investigating the best possible defences.
One of the best defences to theft is that you had “colour of right”, in other words you believed that you were permitted to take the goods. An example of colour of right may that you honestly believed an item was being loaned to you. Another possible defence is that you did not have the mental intention to steal the goods, an example may be that you walked out of the store and forgot to put an item in the bottom of the cart onto the cashier’s station. There are also often ways to contest evidence, such as a poor quality surveillance video.
If you are charged with any crime, in order to prevent yourself from getting a criminal record you should contact a criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Even minor crimes can have a lasting impact on your ability to find employment or travel. Please contact one of our experienced Criminal Law lawyers at MEHDI AU LLP to get an assessment of your case.
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