Theft includes a broad spectrum of behaviour, from shoplifting to theft from an employer. At a basic level, a “theft” is committed when one person takes or converts another person’s property and intends to deprive that person of their property.
The crime of theft is divided into two categories in the Criminal Code, depending on the amount that is stolen: theft over $5,000, and theft under $5,000. Theft over $5,000 carries more serious penalties.
The evidence in theft cases will vary. In shoplifting cases, there will often be video surveillance from the business. Many larger businesses employ loss prevention officers to prevent theft, who will write reports. In cases where a person is accused of stealing from their employer, the Crown will often obtain cash register data or business records. Even if you believe that the Crown has strong evidence to convict you, you should always have a lawyer review your case before deciding to plead guilty.
The Criminal Code also includes a group of offences called “Offences Resembling Theft”. This section includes offences like taking a motor vehicle without consent, criminal breach of trust, and theft of a credit card. Accused persons charged with theft are often charged with fraud as well.
The consequences for theft are wide-ranging and can be serious depending on the nature and quantum of the theft. If you are charged with a minor shoplifting offence and have no criminal record, a lawyer may be able to negotiate with the Crown attorney and have them agree to divert your case. On the other hand, accused persons who are convicted of theft from an employer can face significant jail time, even if they have no criminal record and are of otherwise good character. In Manitoba, a conviction for theft of a motor vehicle will result in your license being suspended. A conviction for theft can also prevent you from finding a job, as it is thought to be a crime of dishonesty.
Regardless of whether you are facing a shoplifting charge or have been accused of stealing large sums of money from your employer, you should hire a lawyer to review the case and advise you of your options. The lawyers at Brodsky, Amy & Gould frequently represent accused persons charged with theft and have been successful in having charges diverted, getting clients acquitted at trial, and in advocating for reduced sentences.