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Toronto Shoplifting and Theft Under $5000 Charges Lawyer

Punishments and Consequences of Shoplifting and obtaining a Criminal Record for Theft Under $5000 (Section 334(b)) in Canada.

While in Canada a shoplifting conviction could carry a lengthy jail term, it is unusual for a first or second time offender to be sentenced to jail if they have no other record. The biggest consequence for most caught shoplifting is the possibility of getting a criminal record for theft under $5000 (Section 334(b)), or experiencing problems associated with the charge itself to their current or future employment, travel, and immigration applications/status (even if the charge is later dropped or withdrawn).

Records of the charge are stored in the local police database, CPIC, and in some cases are also downloaded by US customs and permanently stored in their CBP and/or FBI database. If you get charged with shoplifting, it can show up on certain types of employment checks even if your charge is withdrawn and you don't end up with a criminal record.

Getting a criminal record is a possibility for first time shoplifters

From first hand experience we can confirm that some first time shoplifters in Ontario are pre-screened for probation and a criminal record, despite the value in their case being under $100 and the individuals not working for the store (often considered an aggravating breach of trust). This means the Crown Attorney's office took the position that they would not agree to withdraw the charge. Had these individuals not hired us to represent them, they likely would have wound up with a criminal record.

Below are some examples of real cases we’ve handled in Ontario where the Crown initially sought a criminal record despite it being a first offence and the facts appearing minor (low value taken, no breach of trust, etc.).

First Time Shoplifting Cases (Crown Prosecutor seeking a criminal conviction and record in all)

R's Case

Case facts: The accused, 29, was caught taking $87 worth of items from a Sears store. There were 4 items and he did not work for the store.

Priors: Client had no prior charges or convictions

Background: Immigrant (PR) from India

Location: Toronto

Crown Attorney’s initial position: The Crown refused diversion (direct accountability) and sought a guilty plea and criminal record.

What we did: We spoke to the Crown and convinced them that diversion was appropriate, allowing him to avoid a criminal record and have the charge withdrawn on the first court appearance.

B and T’s case

Case facts: Two co-accused, 27 and 30, were caught shoplifting $34 worth of goods from a Dollarama in Mississauga.

Priors: Neither had any prior charges or convictions

Background: both Canadian citizens

Location: Brampton/Mississauga (Peel)

Crown’s initial position: The Crown was looking for a guilty plea and a sentence of probation.

What we did: After a lengthy discussion with the Crown, we were able to convince them to agree to withdraw the charge if the clients successfully completed community service hours and the efry diversion program.

A’s Case

Case facts: The accused, 40, was accused of taking goods from a store on several occasions in the past.

Priors: Accused had no prior charges or convictions

Background: Canadian citizen

Location: Newmarket (York region)

Crown’s initial position: The Crown sought a guilty plea and a sentence of probation.

What we did: When we first appeared in court in Newmarket (50 Eagle Street) with this client one of the more difficult Crown Attorneys was working in the resolution office. Instead of trying to make the deal with her, we set another court date to give us the best chance of talking to the most lenient Crown. On the second appearance day, we negotiated a deal with the more lenient Crown to withdraw (drop) all charges in exchange for the payment of restitution and a peace bond (for her to stay out of the store).

In all of these cases, the first time shoplifter, with no prior criminal history, avoided a criminal record because they hired us to protect them.

Our lawyer knows exactly how to get shoplifting charges dropped

Having dealt with over 2000 shoplifting cases we know exactly how theft under cases are prosecuted in all Ontario courts (Toronto, Brampton/Mississauga (Peel), Newmarket (York region), Durham, Halton, KW, etc.). In Ontario, Crown Attorneys work primarily at one courthouse and each courthouse operates very differently. Some factors that are considered aggravating by one office/location are viewed as non-issues by others.

From our experience, sometimes people of similar backgrounds caught in cases of a similar nature receive much harsher treatment depending on the courthouse their matter is heard at and the specific Crown Attorney who screens their file. Some people who go to court without a lawyer end up pleading guilty and accepting a life altering bad deal unnecessarily.

How shoplifting charges can damage your career, travel, and immigration status

While some shoplifters have lengthy criminal records, often the person has had no prior contact with the police at all. In an instant all their hard work and accomplishments are on the line. Will they lose their job? Will their spouse leave them? Will anyone trust them again? The police leave most of these people with a Form 9 “Appearance Notice” requiring them to attend for fingerprint and court dates.

Given that many accused are regular, employed, people who never thought of themselves as criminals, their immediate concerns after being charged tend to be:
  1. Getting a criminal record and/or going to jail
  2. Losing their job or future employment opportunities
  3. Not being able to travel to other countries anymore
  4. Being denied entry into the United States at the border
  5. Problems with immigration, citizenship, and other applications
  6. Having the charge show up on a criminal record or police background check
These are all legitimate, serious potential consequences of being charged with theft under $5000. Even in cases where the charge is ultimately withdrawn, the accused can still be negatively impacted by the fact that the police still keep records (local databases, federal CPIC, and other) of them being charged.

Even if you don’t get a criminal record, law enforcement (police, US Customs, CBSA, immigration, etc.) will still be able to see you were charged in the past and can use this information against you. The police will also put records of withdrawn charges on certain types of employment checks and customs officers may use it against you.

The benefits to hiring a lawyer if you’ve been charged with shoplifting

There are two main reasons you should hire a lawyer if you've been charged with shoplifting:
  1. To protect yourself from getting a criminal record, and;

  2. To ensure you know what steps to take to reduce the likelihood of potential problems with your employment, travel, and/or IRCC immigration status associated with just simply being charged by the police.
Even if your shoplifting charge is withdrawn/dropped, you still can experience problems with immigration, US travel, and your current and future employment because police records of the charge itself can sometimes show up on background and customs checks. Some of these records can be repressed and destroyed if you proactively take certain specific steps/requests.

While not all records of a shoplifting charge (even if withdrawn) can be destroyed, there are things you can do to minimize and avoid problems with immigration, travel, and employment background checks. Many individuals (even those whose charges are diverted/withdrawn) end up with permanent immigration, travel, and employment problems that could have been completely avoided had they known how to handle things differently.

We not only do everything possible to ensure our clients don't end up with a criminal record, we also arm them with the exact steps and specific directions needed to minimize and avoid all the potential consequences that may result from just simply being charged with shoplifting by the police.

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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  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