Shoplifting might not seem like the worst crime out there, but it is a crime. While the Canadian government does take into account the severity, theft is theft. If you’ve been charged with shoplifting in Toronto, here is some important information that our criminal defence lawyers think you should know.
1. It’s a Crime, Not a Violation
Some people don’t realize that there’s a difference between a violation and a crime. Speeding and trespassing are considered violations, but they are not criminal acts. This means that getting charged with these acts won’t affect your ability to travel or get a job.
Shoplifting though is considered theft, which is a crime. Even if the item taken in question has little value, it’s still a criminal charge. This means that if you could face repercussions such as being fined, going to prison, or having the charges appear on your criminal record, which could create issues with traveling or working.
2. There Are Different Levels
In Toronto, the amount shoplifted will impact the overall charges. Steal smaller amounts could see you charged with “Theft Under $5,000”. Typically, if this is your first offense the short-term consequences are small. Usually, there is a fine, probation, or short periods of imprisonment if there are prior related crimes.
3. It’s Not Usually About Money
Toronto courts understand that shoplifting usually isn’t about monetary gain. There are often deeper psychological issues or life conditions that lead to this crime. At Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman Criminal Lawyers, we have high success rates of securing diversion for our shoplifting clients. This means that your charges will be removed in exchange for a combination of charitable donations, counseling, program attendance, or a letter of apology. This is in an aim to really address the root of the problem, rather than the symptom.
4. The Long-Term Consequences Are Worse Than The Short
Shoplifting doesn’t carry heavy jail time or large fines. The limited short-term consequences make people think committing and getting charged with this crime won’t matter. The long-term effects of having any criminal record, even with just a small shoplifting charge, can be detrimental. It will appear on background checks, might limit your ability to travel, and could hinder your ability to find work or housing.
5. There Are Ways To Get It Removed
While a shoplifting charge or conviction is bad, don’t panic. Toronto courts realize that these charges aren’t usually serious, and often these charges are suspended. To get charges suspended one usually has to wait for a certain amount of time to pass and fulfill other requirements, but ultimately the charges are removed allowing you to return to normal life.