Of all the forms of theft charges, the one for “theft under 5000” (sometimes referred to
simply as “theft under”) can seem not so serious. Often involving shoplifting, which is the
most common form of theft in Canada, and for an amount of less than $5000, it can seem
like a “victimless” crime, affecting only a business that’s probably covered by insurance,
Unfortunately for anyone charged with theft under, the Criminal Code considers theft under to be a hybrid offence, which gives the Crown the ability to proceed by indictment (more serious) or by summary conviction (less serious).
If the Crown proceeds by indictment those who commit theft and are convicted are liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, and a criminal record for life. If the Crown proceeds by summary conviction, because it is a hybrid offence, a conviction may lead to imprisonment of up to 18 months.
In addition to jail, the courts have the ability to place an offender on probation, impose a weapon prohibition, order a DNA sample to be taken, as well as restricting your freedoms or ordering you to take various programs and/or counselling.
If you want to try to avoid the worst sentences and consequences of a criminal conviction for theft, you should hire a criminal defence lawyer who is experienced in defending against criminal charges of theft under $5000.
Why You Need a Defence Lawyer For Theft Under $5000
But all theft charges carry one immediate consequence that most other criminal charges don’t. Once you are charged with theft, the arresting police agency forwards information about you and the charge to the RCMP who enters it into the Canadian Police Information System (CPIC).
CPIC is used by the police and Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) in Canada. In certain circumstances, Canada shares CPIC results with law enforcement agencies in the United States such as the police and the US Department of Homeland Security. These US agencies can access your information in the US to do background checks.
That means, for example, if you are charged with theft and try to visit the United States, the border agent might find your theft charge in a background check and refuse your entry into the U.S. The US considers theft a crime of moral turpitude which can result in your inadmissibility to the US. In the US theft under is known as petty larceny.
Perhaps the worst consequence of theft under conviction is having a criminal record for the rest of your life. It can affect your life in many ways.
- Travel – You can be denied entry into the U.S., or any country in the world, just because you have a criminal record.
- Employment – Many employers will not offer jobs to those with a criminal record
- Volunteering – Volunteer organizations do background checks and generally do not want to take on the risk of hiring a person with a criminal record.
- Working with Minors – You may not be able to teach or help with youth sports if you have a criminal record.
X-Copper’s team of former police officers and top criminal defence lawyers who are experienced in defending cases involving theft under $5000 will use their experience and knowledge of criminal law, law enforcement and court procedures to protect your rights
and get the best outcome.
To learn more about how to protect your rights against theft charges, check out our article “How To Choose The Right Theft Defense Attorney”.