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Toronto Shoplifting and Theft Under $5000 Charges Lawyer

Shoplifting Charges and Records: Police Fingerprints and Photographs

The criminal fingerprinting process and potential negative effects on immigration, U.S. travel, and employment related background checks

Most first time shoplifters are surprised to learn they will be fingerprinted and photographed (mugshot) as part of the arrest process. The fingerprint date is normally found under the court date on the Form 9 Appearance Notice or Form 10 Undertaking that is given to the accused by the police. The fingerprints are not only stored in the police force’s computer database, they are also sent to the RCMP to be included in the national CPIC database, which is accessible by all law enforcement agencies in Canada and the United States (including U.S. Customs).

What happens when I go for fingerprints at the police station?

When you attend for prints, the police will use a green light laser machine to take a print of all of your fingers and palms. They will also photograph your face for a mugshot. They may ask you questions about your physical appearance such as your height, weight, tattoos, scars, place of birth, and other background information. All of this information is entered into the computer system.

The police will normally not ask you questions about the charge itself during this process. It is advisable to take the Form 9 Appearance Notice of Form 10 Undertaking to the police station for prints and ask them to stamp it to prove you attended as required.

What if I don’t attend for prints? Can I avoid being fingerprinted?

Everyone charged with shoplifting (theft under $5000) must be fingerprinted and have their mugshot taken. It doesn’t matter how “good” your lawyer is, or that your uncle is a police officer, you will be fingerprinted just like everyone else.

If you fail to attend for fingerprints and photographs the police system will automatically send this information to the courthouse for the Crown to seek a warrant for your arrest. You may also be charged criminally for failing to comply with the Form 9 or 10 (resulting in a new court date in addition to the original charge date).

What if I am scheduled to be leave the country during the print date?

There is no excuse for failing to attend for fingerprints. This being said, you may contact the police to see if they will agree to print you prior to the formal print date. If you have a legitimate reason for a date change (proof of travel), most police forces in the GTA will accommodate your request. In some instances, this may result in a change of your court date because they are often tied to the print date. Keep in mind you are asking the police for a favour and thus a polite request will likely have a greater chance of success than an angry or aggressive one.

If the police have my fingerprints does that mean I have a criminal record?

The formal definition of a criminal record in Canada is meant to include criminal convictions for which there has been no pardon (now known as “record suspension”). This includes all findings of guilt that do not result in an absolute or conditional discharge. Fingerprints are thus not related to the formal meaning of a “criminal record” in Canada.

While you may not have a criminal record, the prints and mugshot will become part of information that is now being stored about you in the local police database and shared with other police agencies. This includes the RCMP, US Customs (CBP), Canadian Customs (CBSA), UK Customs, Interpol, the FBI, and all police forces in Canada. Your fingerprints can thus have a negative impact on your travel, immigration, and any other matter involving law enforcement or prosecutorial discretion in dealing with you in the future.

Having fingerprints in the system will also increase the likelihood that the police will disclose a withdrawn charge (including theft under $5000) on a vulnerable sector screening. In some cases, this information can be suppressed upon proper request. If the prints have been destroyed it increases the chances the police will agree not to put withdrawals or other non-conviction information on your vulnerable sector police check. For those who work with children, the elderly, or the mentally ill, this is of critical importance to their employability (including teachers, nurses, caretakers, and other professionals).

An FPS Number will be assigned and kept in the system for all those who are fingerprinted

When the RCMP receive the fingerprints from the arresting police force, they sort this information according to the person’s name and date of birth and assign a unique FPS number to the individual. This FPS number is stored in the computer system indefinitely and indicates the individual was fingerprinted at some point, even if the fingerprints are later destroyed.

Only those who have been charged with criminal offences have FPS numbers. Agencies like US Customs will know you have been charged in the past if they see an FPS number in the system that matches your name and date of birth.

Will the police put my fingerprints on a criminal record check?

No. Fingerprints are only accessible by and provided to other law enforcement agencies. This may cause problems in dealing with law enforcement, immigration/IRCC, or travelling to the US, but they are not normally disclosed to the public and will not be put on a formal criminal record check.

Once my fingerprints are destroyed does this mean my record is completely clean?

No. The police will still keep information about your charge which may also be shared with other police agencies and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Other information, such as the FPS number, may also remain despite the destruction of the fingerprints.

“But someone else told me my record was clean or “purged”, removed, etc.?”

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding of these issues. Despite what some other lawyer, paralegal, courthouse worker, “records destruction company”, or anyone else tells you, the reality is that the police, the courts, and the local Crown Attorney’s office will keep information about your charge even if it is withdrawn and your prints/photo has been confirmed to be destroyed.

You don’t have to take our word for it, the Toronto Police disclose this information themselves on their own fingerprint form, which reads:

“NOTE: Other records pertaining to your arrest(s) may exist, e.g. Toronto Police Service Record of Arrest report. These documents will not be destroyed pursuant to your application for destruction of fingerprints and photographs. Rather, they are subject to retention under the City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 219, Article 1.

This is found on page 4 of the Toronto Police Fingerprint Destruction form, which you can download and read for yourself here.

Understanding how the police keep information about you and how to proactively avoid and mitigate potential problems associated with US travel, immigration, police discretion, and certain employment background checks is a large part of our practice.

Please see our page on fingerprint destruction services if you are looking to have your fingerprints and RCMP CPIC file removed.

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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.


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  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