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Toronto Shoplifting and Theft Under $5000 Charges Lawyer

Shoplifting charges under Section 354 (1) of the Criminal Code: possession of property obtained by crime (stolen property)

Approximately 50% of people charged with shoplifting in Toronto (theft under $5000) are also charged with possessing property obtained by crime under section 354(1)(a).

The inclusion of the stolen property charge is determined by the police officer’s discretion. There appears to be no specific reason as to why some officers include this charge in addition to the theft under and other officers do not. It is usually just a product of the individual police officer’s understanding of the proper charging procedure on shoplifting charge calls.

If store security finds property of other stores upon arrest that they believe to be stolen (tags on, no receipt), the police may include the possession charge and mention the other merchandise in their synopsis.

The possession of stolen property section of the criminal code reads as follows:

354. (1) Every one commits an offence who has in his possession any property or thing or any proceeds of any property or thing knowing that all or part of the property or thing or of the proceeds was obtained by or derived directly or indirectly from

(a) the commission in Canada of an offence punishable by indictment; or

(b) an act or omission anywhere that, if it had occurred in Canada, would have constituted an offence punishable by indictment.

The legal authority for the s. 354 (1) charge is a result of theft under $5000 and fraud under $500 being hybrid offences (punishable by summary conviction or indictment). While practically speaking the Crown elects to proceed by indictment in less than 1% of all cases, technically they could also proceed by indictment.

The hybrid status of these offences is also the reason why all people charged in Canada for shoplifting offences must be fingerprinted and photographed by the police.

How does the s. 354(1)(a) possession of property obtained by crime affect my shoplifting case?

In most cases, the inclusion of the additional charge is not considered an aggravating factor and does not affect the prosecution of the matter. This being said, it may cause issues with US travel as US INA immigration admissibility laws differentiate between one charge and multiple charges.

This being said, no matter what the disposition of your case ultimately is (withdrawn, convicted, not guilty, etc.), the police will keep in their computer system that you were charged with both counts. The charge information is shared with other law enforcement agencies including the RCMP and US Customs (CBP). For this reason alone, it is beneficial to not be charged under Section 354(1)(a).

In cases that proceed to a sentencing hearing or are scheduled for trial, the Crown will often agree to withdraw the stolen property charge as part of a deal on a plea. If the police only charge the individual with theft or fraud, this option is not available.

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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