Theft is one of the most common crimes in Canada, and many people consider shoplifting to be a fairly minor offence. However, it is important to realize that a conviction for theft, even simple shoplifting, can carry serious consequences. While a first-time offender may receive a fairly lenient sentence, having a conviction on your criminal record may make it difficult to obtain certain jobs or volunteer positions or travel outside of Canada.
It is important to have the assistance of an experienced criminal defence lawyer, even for relatively minor charges, to ensure that you achieve the best possible resolution of your matter.
What are the Differences between Theft, Shoplifting, Robbery and Break and Enter?
Theft is the act of intentionally taking something that does not belong to you. The Criminal Code contains two different theft offences: theft under $5,000 and theft over $5,000.
Shoplifting is not an official Criminal Code offence. Minor shoplifting will generally be prosecuted as theft under $5,000.
Robbery is the act of taking of something that does not belong to you through the use or threat of violence.
Breaking and entering is breaking into a premises and entering it with the intent to commit a serious offence. Breaking into a home is considered more serious than other forms of B & E and will generally attract a higher sentence.
What are the Potential Penalties for a Theft, Shoplifting, Robbery or B & E Conviction?
The maximum sentence for theft under $5000 is two years imprisonment. However, if the theft was minor and/or it was your first offence, it is unlikely that you would receive jail time.
For minor crimes your lawyer can ask that you be “diverted” out of the criminal justice system. This would mean that you would not go through the traditional court and sentencing process. You would be required to make amends for your crime in an alternative way, such as community service. Other possible options include an absolute or conditional discharge (which would result in no criminal record), a fine, a term of probation or a conditional sentence that could be served in the community.
The maximum penalty for theft over $5000 is ten years imprisonment.
The use or threat of violence involved in robbery makes it a much more serious offence. In fact, a robbery conviction holds the potential for life imprisonment. Furthermore, there are mandatory minimum sentences that must be imposed if certain circumstances exist. For example, if a firearm was used during the robbery, a minimum sentence of four years of imprisonment must be imposed.
Breaking and entering carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment. However, if the B & E involved a home, it can be punished by life imprisonment.
How can DUVADIE Law defend Against Theft, Robbery and Break and Enter Charges?
In order to be convicted of theft, the prosecutor must prove that you were the one that took the item and that you intended to take it. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to raise a reasonable doubt that you were the one who committed the theft or that you intended to take the item. For example, if you were intoxicated at the time it may be possible to argue that it was not possible for you to form the intent to steal. You may also have a defence if you believed the item in question was yours.
If you are facing a theft, shoplifting, robbery, or break and enter charge, please call DUVADIE Law at 613-422-1155 or Toll-Free at 1-855-422-1155 to set up your free 30 minute consultation.
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