Getting charged with theft or fraud for stealing from your employer or workplace (over and under $5000)
Employee theft charges are considered a serious breach of trust type offence that can result in jail and a criminal recordStealing from an employer is a serious form of criminal theft in Canada that often results in penalties of prison and a criminal record upon conviction. As employees are considered to be in a position of trust towards their employer, violating this trust is viewed as far more serious than stealing from a third party (such as shoplifting).
Employment related theft charges are normally brought under the following provisions of the criminal code:
- Theft under and over $5000 (Section 334 (b))
- Fraud under and over $5000 (Section 380 (1)(a) or (b))
- Possession of stolen property (Sections 354 - 359)
Theft from retail store employersLosses related to employee theft in retail stores (Winners, the Bay, Wal-Mart, etc.) often match or exceed amounts lost to third party shoplifters. Retail employees normally get charged with theft or fraud through the following factual scenarios:
- Directly taking items without paying for them;
- Taking cash, gift cards, coupons, promotional items, or other instruments of value;
- Paying for items at a discounted rate that was not authorized by the employer;
- Intentionally ringing in items to known 3rd parties (friends, family, etc.) improperly resulting in discounts (sometimes providing them with employee, senior, or other types of discounts);
- Fraudulently taking and returning items (or providing them to third parties) for cash refunds or exchanges.
Aggravating factors in retail theft cases:
- A high dollar amount of store losses;
- The number of individuals times the theft or fraud occurred;
- The reason or intention of the accused for committing the theft;
- Whether the items were intended for sale to 3rd parties or for personal use;
- The nature and closeness of the employee’s relationship to the store. Are they a manager or supervisor, or a new employee? Their job description, and the amount of responsibility put in them by the store, is relevant.;
- The employee’s past criminal police record (including prior cautions, warnings, and formal charges not resulting in convictions);
- Other personal circumstances of the accused's background and history.
It generally takes longer for employees to be caught and charged with theft or fraud
Unlike a typical shoplifting case, where the accused is caught and charged while leaving the store, it often takes stores months (or even sometimes years) to discover employee retail theft. It may go unnoticed or attributed to third party shoplifting or errors until it is discovered as a result of annual audit and other financial investigation.
This time delay between the theft and the charge is relevant for two key reasons:
- It allows the employee to commit multiple acts before being caught (thus making the case even more serious);
- If it takes more than 6 months for the accused to be charged, the Criminal Code requires the Crown to elect to prosecute by way of a more serious indictment and not by summary conviction.
Summary vs. Indictable: In employee theft cases the Crown may proceed by indictment which means potentially longer prison sentences, and problems with Canadian immigration and US travel.As with any theft under $5000 or fraud under $5000 case, the Crown may elect to proceed by two methods of prosecution: summary or indictable (both are commonly referred to as "hybrid" offences).
Crowns often elect to proceed by indictment in employer theft cases because they are considered a more serious form of theft and because they are forced to by the Criminal Code if the allegation relates to an incident that occurred more than 6 months prior to the charge date. The distinction between summary and indictable is important because an indictable conviction can result in longer prison sentences and problems with US travel and Canadian immigration.
US and foreign travel
An indictable conviction will most likely render the accused unable to enter the US, UK, and other countries. The US deems theft and frauds to be crimes of moral turpitude. If proceeded by indictment, the maximum possible sentence of two years+ in jail renders them ineligible to enter the US (even if the actual sentence imposed is less than two years, or does not include jail). Summary convictions often are deemed to meet an exception to found in US immigration law because the maximum possible jail sentence is 6 months.
Indictable charges and Canadian immigration problems
If the accused is not a Canadian citizen, an indictable conviction may also lead to their work permit, permanent residence card (PR) or other forms of immigration status in Canada being revoked. The individual may also find themselves subject to deportation.
Employee theft from vulnerable personsGaining financial advantages from vulnerable employers such as elderly, mentally ill, or handicapped people (often committed by caregivers, health workers, and other trusted personal care employees)
Sometimes individuals working with/taking care of elderly or mentally handicapped people are accused of stealing from them. These forms of employee theft are viewed as highly aggravating/extremely serious charges and will likely lead to a sentence of jail upon conviction. Such cases can arise from directly stealing cash, jewellery, deceiving, lying about required payments, and other forms of dishonestly and intentional neglect intended to financially deprive vulnerable people to the benefit of their caretaker/employee.
For this reason, some police departments will put records of withdrawn theft under $5000 charges on vulnerable sector checks (often to the surprise of the person who was under the false impression their record was “clean”).
Those working in business environments are sometimes accused of tampering with financial documents, engaging in fraudulent contracts, working with malicious 3rd parties to defraud the company, and many other types of complex fraud schemes.
All forms of employee theft charges are serious
If you have been charged with any form of employee theft, you are facing a significant risk to your freedom and future. We have experience with these cases and may be able to convince the Crown to agree to withdraw (drop) the charges against you in exchange for an out of court resolution. Even if the Crown ultimately refuses to drop the charges, we can sometimes negotiate agreements to help you avoid jail and a criminal record (along with other travel, employment, and immigration problems). For cases that go to trial, we will do everything possible to help you win an acquittal and avoid conviction.
You don't have to jeopardize your future or waste thousands of dollars on excessive legal fees. We provide effective and affordable lawyer representation for those charged with shoplifting offences in the Toronto area.
Our flat fee for most cases, $1000.00, is perhaps the lowest in the industry. Have a skilled lawyer who focuses on shoplifting charges protect you and your future from a criminal record.
Call us today: 647-228-5969
Your case will be defended by a fully licensed Practicing Lawyer of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
For more information on our lawyer, click here.
Please note: We do not accept Legal Aid Certificate cases.
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