Facing theft allegations can be stressful. Theft charges can have serious consequences, including a criminal record and other collateral consequences including jail time.
If you have been accused of stealing, you will need the help of experienced criminal defence lawyers who can help to protect your reputation and ensure the best possible outcome.
The criminal lawyers at Kahlon Law Professional Corporation have years of experience handling theft cases and can often convince prosecutors to withdraw the theft allegation if the crime was a minor theft. Contact us today for a consultation to discuss the specifics of your case!
What Is Theft?
Simply put, theft or stealing is defined as the act of taking something that does not belong to you without the owner’s permission for your benefit or someone else’s. Theft charges may be applied when the person in question took the object intentionally.
According to the law, you are considered stealing if you deprive the owner of an item or use of that item.
Theft Is Often Divided into Two Categories
These categories are:
- Theft of $5,000 or less
- Stolen property over the amount of $5,000
Both categories of criminal charges are hybrid offences, meaning that the Crown can choose to proceed by indictment or summary conviction. If the value of the stolen property is $5,000 or less, the Crown will likely proceed by way of summary conviction.
If the value of the stolen property is over $5,000, the Crown may proceed by way of indictment. This means the accused has a right to a jury trial and, if convicted, can be sentenced to a jail sentence.
The consequences of these categories differ for each of these categories, and a prior theft conviction could also increase your chances of a harsher verdict.
Certain Factors Must Be Proved Without a Reasonable Doubt for a Criminal Conviction to Be Made
The prosecution will have to prove several factors before you can be charged with theft and fraud. These are:
- Either you moved something, caused it to be moved, or started moving something belonging to another person
- The property was moved with the intention of stealing it, either temporarily or permanently, without the owner’s permission
- The estimated value of the item you attempted to steal
Understanding the Difference Between a Theft or Fraud Charge
While fraud and theft may seem to be the same thing, fraud adds an element of deception or misrepresentation to the offence.
Examples of fraudulent activities include pyramid schemes, forgery, identity fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion, and more. Under Canada’s Criminal Code, such offenses are taken seriously.
How a Theft Charge Is Investigated
A report from an eyewitness to the attempted fraud or theft usually starts an investigation. This could be the accused victim, who alleges their private possessions were taken without their permission. It could also be a person who witnessed the crime, such as a worker at a retail store.
The police will arrive and take a written statement from the accused victim and any other eyewitnesses, and they will begin an investigation. Police officers will check security camera footage and gather as much evidence as they can. If there is solid evidence of who the perpetrator is, they will issue an arrest warrant.
After you’ve been arrested, the police will submit the evidence, often referred to as a “disclosure package,” to the Crown Prosecutor. This package contains all the evidence that the police have against you.
A lawyer can assist you in going through the evidence against you and guide you through your options.
What a Criminal Defence Lawyer Can Do for You
When you engage the services of theft lawyers, they will examine many options to avoid a permanent criminal record or ensure that your sentence is minimal.
If you are facing theft allegations, it is essential to contact a criminal defence lawyer to ensure that your legal rights are protected. A criminal lawyer will also have a good understanding of the court system and understands the implications of theft and fraud charges. This means they are well equipped to help you find the right way forward.
When a person commits theft, there are a number of ways in which fraud lawyers can help them. One of the first ways is by checking their eligibility for the diversion program.
The Diversion Program
Every courthouse has its own diversion program, with varied eligibility inclusion criteria in each region.
The Crown Attorney’s office is responsible for determining who is eligible for this diversion program. A prosecutor can pre-approve candidacy for the diversion program if they believe a theft offence is minor (typically, a minimal amount of product was stolen and the item was recovered). A criminal lawyer can also negotiate on your behalf to have you accepted into the program.
Even if there was no resulting criminal conviction, prior associations with the police are unlikely to qualify a person for diversion.
Law enforcement may release you following a release order at the scene, after giving you a document describing your offences and any required court appearances. This document often includes terms and restrictions that you must adhere to while on release, which your lawyer can explain to you.
Alternatively, a bail hearing may be required, which must take place within 24 hours of your arrest. At this hearing, a criminal defence lawyer can be a valuable asset, giving you the best chance at receiving a positive outcome.
Facing a Criminal Charge with a Criminal Record? We Can Help!
When you have been accused of stealing, it can seem like you are left to deal with the ramifications on your own. However, by hiring quality legal representation, you can rest assured that you have someone on your team fighting relentlessly to get you the best possible outcome and raise any potential defences.
Kahlon Law is dedicated to helping those facing charges of theft, fraud, shoplifting, and more. Whether you have a criminal history or not, you can rely on Kahlon Law to provide you with sound legal counsel. Contact us today for a consultation and case review!