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Toronto Shoplifting and Theft Under $5000 Charges Lawyer

Diversion for shoplifting charges and potential problems with police records checks, employment, immigration, and US travel.

Why you are better off having a lawyer represent and advise you even if your charge is eligible for diversion.

A lot of accused shoplifters are under the false impression that participating in a diversion or direct accountability program will erase all records of their charge(s). In reality, records systems such as CPIC and local police databases will often indicate that you admitted responsibility through diversion. This means the charge (theft under $5000), and that you accepted diversion (admitted responsibility for it), can still show up on certain employment, immigration and US customs background checks (causing travel problems at the border). It may also have to be disclosed to professional regulatory bodies for certain professions.

Fortunately, there are ways to significantly reduce the risks of these potential consequences, and in some cases, avoid diversion altogether.

Avoiding diversion or minimizing the negative effects of admitting responsibility with a lawyer

The best solution to problems associated with diversion is to avoid it entirely. Where appropriate, our lawyer can sometimes talk to the Crown and reach a resolution that allows the charge to be withdrawn without you having to go through diversion.

Shoplifting Diversion

A sign outside the Newmarket, ON diversion office recommending that people first seek legal advice.

T's Case (2012 Toronto): Client’s charge withdrawn without having to go through diversion

Case facts: Aged in his early forties, the client was originally from India and lived in Canada on a work permit. He supported his wife and two young children by working in IT. He was caught shoplifting at a grocery store.

Case issues: Client was advised by an immigration lawyer that going through diversion and admitting responsibility for shoplifting could damage his application for future work permits and permanent residence in Canada.

What we did: We spoke directly to the Crown at 1000 Finch and got them to agree to drop the charges without going through diversion. Our client made a donation to charity and did not have to admit responsibility for what happened. As a result, his theft under $5000 charge was dropped without him having to sign papers saying he was a thief. If he is asked by an employer, US customs, immigration, or anyone else about the incident in the future he will not have to say that he admitted to stealing.

Hiring a lawyer to go through the diversion with you provides the advantage of being able to explain admitting responsibility as "just following legal advice" to employers, US Customs, IRCC, and anyone else who asks about it in the future.

If diversion is the only way to have the charges withdrawn, it is better to go through the process with a lawyer because you can say that you agreed to the program, and admitted responsibility, because your lawyer advised you it was in your best interest (as opposed to because you are a thief).

It is accepted in society that following the advice of a lawyer is reasonable. Those who go through diversion with a lawyer are at an advantage because they can always explain admitting responsibility as just following the advice of their lawyer.

Avoiding and minimizing possible career problems

The number 1 fear an employer has is that their employees will steal from them. Employers are tremendously vulnerable to theft and other liabilities associated with problem employees. If you have a theft charge show up on a background check you will be considered to be unemployable by most because they see you as someone they can’t trust.

Whether you were involved in an elaborate credit card fraud, or just took a $2 item at Dollarama, the charge still shows up as the same thing: theft under $5000. For those accused of switching price tags or receiving discounts improperly, they are often charged with fraud under 5000. Would you trust someone who has a history of admitting to theft or fraud? The answer is self-evident.

How theft charges can still show up on background checks for employment even if the charge is withdrawn through diversion

Theft diversions can show up on certain types of employment checks, such as a vulnerable sector check which is often required for jobs working with children, the elderly, mentally ill or other vulnerable people. Some Toronto area police departments also include withdrawn theft charges on records checks for people working with money and finances (where they are in a position of trust). Moreover, because police information systems can take significant time to update, diversions can sometimes cause problems with standard criminal records checks as well by still showing up as a pending charge.

There are ways to reduce the likelihood that the police will release this information to employers, but they require special proactive applications and requests. We ensure our clients are fully informed as to how to prevent potential career problems and how to repress and avoid information about the charge being disclosed to their employer.

"I was denied entry into the US because of a withdrawn or diverted shoplifting charge"

The United States views crimes of theft (including shoplifting) as those of “moral turpitude”. This means that a theft charge could cause you to be refused entry into the US. Many Canadians get a shock at the border when US customs sees a theft or fraud charge in the computer system and informs them they cannot cross. After being refused entry into the US, the American customs may also red flag the individual in their computer database (and take and retain your picture). This can sometimes cause permanent lifelong problems and denials.

While there are no guarantees when it comes to immigration, customs, and entry into foreign countries, some of these people could have avoided these problems had they been properly informed and taken the right steps beforehand to reduce the likelihood that their shoplifting charges would be an issue (even if withdrawn). This includes specific requests for destruction of certain records, verification, understanding the issues regarding data entry and delays with CPIC, and ensuring they carry certain court documentation to resolve potential problems with customs.

Records of the withdrawn charge/diversion could be used against you by US customs when evaluating your entry. Sometimes customs officers will question Canadians about prior arrests and charges and many find themselves banned from the United States because they responded to questions regarding their shoplifting charges in the wrong way.

All of our clients crossing the US border are fully informed of all the potential problems they may face and exactly how to reduce the likelihood of being denied entry into the US for shoplifting.

Professional societies and associations may require disclosing prior charges even if withdrawn

Many of our clients are lawyers, accountants, doctors, work for major banks, the government, or who are successfully self-employed and/or have well paying jobs. When they are charged with shoplifting, everything they’ve worked for is put in jeopardy.

Some of these individuals don’t just have to disclose a shoplifting charge when applying for a job, they also have to disclose it to the regulatory body/society in charge of their profession (or will in the future in the case of students). Answering yes to having been charged with a criminal offence before can have devastating consequences, especially when the charge is for fraud, theft, etc. If you go through diversion and have to admit responsibility to get the charge dropped, it is always better to make such an admission because you were relying on the advice of a lawyer.

If you’ve been charged with theft under 5000, fraud under 5000, possession of stolen property, or any other shoplifting related offence, it is in your best interest to hire to hire a lawyer to protect you from the potentially devastating consequences of a criminal record and reduce or eliminate other possible problems related to withdrawn charges and admitting responsibility through participation in a diversion or direct accountability program.

Call us today for a free assessment

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 all forms of theft and fraud related offences throughout Ontario, Canada.

Have a skilled criminal lawyer who focuses on theft and fraud related charges protect you and your future from the stigma and consequences of a criminal record.

Your case will be defended by a fully licensed Practicing Lawyer of the Law Society of Ontario. For more information about our lawyer, click here.

We provide our clients with:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • US travel advice and information
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • Clear goals of getting charges dropped and bail conditions varied without a trial
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Experienced, focused counsel

* Please note:

If you are not a paying client, we cannot answer questions and provide assistance with U.S. travel, immigration, employment background checks, and avoiding a criminal record. This includes those who have already retained other counsel and those whose cases have already been completed. We also only take calls/emails relating to Ontario, Canada area cases.

Are you a lawyer? If you are defending a theft or fraud related case and are looking for expert advice regarding possible defences, case strategies, and information release management call us at: 647-228-5969.

Please note: We do not accept legal aid certificate cases. All clients are handled on a private retainer only.


Your questions and concerns are extremely important to me.


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  Law and Consequences

  We provide:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • 99%+ non-conviction success rate
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • A clear goal of getting the charges dropped without a trial
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Timely resolutions
  • Lawyer/client privilege
  • Experienced, focused counsel