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Toronto Shoplifting and Theft Under $5000 Charges Lawyer

Fraud Under $5000: Section 380(1)(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada

Fraud under $5000 is a criminal offence in Canada. While there are many types of fraud, charges relating to retail environments are relatively common in the Toronto Area for both shoplifters and employees. Depending on the police officer’s discretion, sometimes the accused will also be charged with “possession of stolen property” in addition to fraud.

Most people charged in a retail environment will receive a Form 9 “Appearance Notice” or Form 10 "Undertaking" document containing a date to attend the police station for fingerprints/photos (mug shot), and a separate date to attend criminal court. In some cases, the person will be taken to the station, fingerprinted, and released on a Form 10 Undertaking document. The police may also require the accused to sign a Criminal Undertaking containing release conditions or attend a Bail Hearing.

Either way, the charge is the same and found in Section 380(1)(b) of the Criminal Code or Canada, which reads:

   380. (1) Every one who, by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, whether or not it is a false pretence within the meaning of this Act, defrauds the public or any person, whether ascertained or not, of any property, money or valuable security or any service, ...

   (b) is guilty

   (i) of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or

   (ii) of an offence punishable on summary conviction,

   where the value of the subject-matter of the offence does not exceed five thousand dollars.

Fraud charges related to shoplifting

Accused are often surprised to learn that intentional price manipulation, if reported to the police, can constitute a fraud charge. Shoppers facing fraud charges often are alleged to have:
  1. Switched a price tag on an item resulting in an improper discount;
  2. Placing a discount label or sign on an item that is not discounted;
  3. Instructing a cashier that they found an item in a location advertising a lower price;
  4. Returning an item and lying about the price paid or providing inaccurate or manipulated receipts;
  5. Purchasing an item using a credit card they are not authorized to use or with other fraudulent instruments.
Unlike simply taking an item without paying for it, fraud shoplifting charges involve some form of premeditated planning and deception which can be considered an aggravating factor.

What is the punishment for Fraud Under $5000?

The punishments and likely outcome of fraud cases will depend on the seriousness of the allegation and the background of the accused. Like any other criminal case, the accused’s criminal history (if any), personal life circumstances, age, employment, and other information is considered. If proceded by way of indictment, a conviction could result in a prison term of up to two years. If the Crown elects to proceed summarily, a maximum jail sentence of 6 months is possible.

If the fraud relates to theft from an employer, allegations of reselling items, multiple charges or repeated instances/attempts, the Crown may seek a jail sentence even if the individual has no prior criminal record or contact with the police.

Can the charges be dropped (withdrawn)?

For many first time offenders, who are accused of relatively minor low value retail frauds, the chance of being sent to jail is minimal. For these individuals, the more realistic concerns involve the possibility of obtaining a criminal record, losing their job (or future employability), and having problems travelling and crossing the US border as a result of the charge itself.

Our goal is to ensure the greatest chance of having your case dropped. Sometimes the charges can be withdrawn in exchange for a charitable donation, performance of community service, or attendance in counselling.

I've been charged. What do I do now?

While it is always stressful to be charged with a serious criminal offence, the most prudent thing to do is speak with a lawyer who has experience dealing with similar cases immediately. Many times, there are things you can do prior to your court date to increase the likelihood that your case will result in a beneficial outcome.

The stigma and damage that a fraud charge can carry is substantial and long lasting. We often advise clients not to tell anyone about their case. Unlike speaking to a lawyer, other people you tell about the charges can share what you say to third parties, the police, and may even be forced to testify to your statements in court (against you). There is an incredible amount of misinformation and misunderstanding regarding these types of cases and many of the opinions you’ll receive, and read online, are inaccurate.

Who do you represent?

Our clients charged with fraud tend to be working professionals and students. We have represented clients from all different professions including doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, and accountants. Many work for major banks and large corporations. For all of these individuals, a fraud charge is a threat to everything they've worked so hard to achieve.

We aim to avoid, minimize, and proactively control all potential negative consequences of being charged with fraud.

I have a prior warning, charge, or conviction for theft, fraud, or something else.

While prior warnings, charges, and convictions are never a positive factor in any criminal case, they don’t necessarily mean that you will go to jail or obtain a criminal record as a result of your new charge.

If you have been cautioned or warned in the past (but never formally charged), the police and Crown Attorney will be aware of this and will factor it into their consideration of your case. Many people are under the false belief that unless they are formally convicted their police “record” is perfectly clean when in fact it will be used against them.

It is important that you be upfront and honest in disclosing all information relating to any prior contact with the police to your lawyer. A full understanding of your police history is the first step in developing a plan of action towards a successful resolution (withdrawn charge, avoidance of jail, etc.).

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.


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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