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Shoplifting Charges: Can You Be Charged with Theft After Leaving a Store?





The notion is that a person enters a store, steals a few items, and exits the store unpunished. Are you safe from shoplifting charges after leaving a store?

In the quickest answer, no. Under Section 334(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada, you can be fined up to $2,000.00 if you are caught shoplifting. You can still be charged with shoplifting because you are not caught at the door. Furthermore, there are many common punishments, such as court fees and jail time, injuring your career and reputation, and being restricted from travelling.

Read on to discover how and more about Canada’s laws regarding shoplifting and Theft.

What Exactly Is Shoplifting?

The term shoplifting is commonly used to describe Theft under $5,000.00. This context means taking merchandise out of a retail store without paying that value under $5000.00. (There is also the charge of Theft over $5000.00).

Theft is defined in the Canadian Criminal Code as the act of taking someone else’s property to temporarily or permanently remove it from its rightful owner.

Theft under $5,000 may be punished with a fine of up to $2,000.00 or imprisonment for six months. It is important to note that these are maximum penalties, and punishments for first-time offenders are likely to be much less severe.

Shoplifting occurs when someone steals something from a shop without paying for it. Following the law, shoplifting could be a result of one or all of these:

  • Stealing of merchandise
  • Modifying or removing the price tag to lower the price
  • The purchase of a product using an untrue account or an account that belongs to someone else without their consent, knowledge, or authorization
  • The removal of an item that is to be sold or displayed without having to pay for it

Shoplifting is possible in any retail establishment or business with merchandise available for sale. A lot of stores have cameras to record videos of shoplifters. If you’ve managed to leave the store and not be detained by an employee, you might not be as secure as you believe. If the store filmed a video of you shoplifting, and later you’re identified in the footage, you may get charged for Theft at any moment within the timeframe of limits. In some instances, the store might determine that the cost of investigating the charges you face is lower than the loss of the merchandise; however, it is not likely that the stolen item was worth a significant amount of money.

Avoid going back to the store after you’ve been caught shoplifting without being found guilty. The employee may be in the store and recognize you. They might also upload your photo if they’ve got footage of you captured on camera. Additionally, retailers frequently share information about shoplifters with other companies. This means that the store you went to shoplift could share your picture with other businesses within the vicinity.

A lot of stores have cameras to record videos of shoplifters. If you’ve managed to leave the store and not be confronted by an employee, you might not be as secure as you believe. If the store recorded footage of you stealing and later you’re recognized in the footage, you may become a suspect of Theft within the timeframe of limits. In some instances, the store might determine that the cost of prosecuting the charges you face is lower than the loss of the item; however, it is unlikely to happen if the item stolen was worth a substantial amount of money.

It is best not to return to the shop after committing shoplifting and not getting arrested. An employee may be in the store and recognize you. They may also post your photo if they’ve got footage of you captured on camera. Furthermore, shops frequently share information about shoplifters with other companies. This means that the shop where you shopped could share your picture with other businesses located in the same area.

What’s The Difference Between Shoplifting and Petty Theft?

Many people use the terms “shoplifting” and “petty theft” interchangeably, though the two terms refer to slightly different criminal charges. Petty Theft and shoplifting are alike in the fact that they both entail stealing items of lesser value. However, while shoplifting refers to the Theft of merchandise from the premises of a store, petty Theft may be the Theft of goods, services, personal property, and, yes, merchandise. So, in general, petty Theft encompasses more forms of Theft than shoplifting does. You could also look at it as shoplifting being one specific type of petty Theft.

Is Shoplifting a Crime Or a Violation?

Shoplifting is a criminal offence, contrary to popular belief. It does not constitute a violation. Shoplifters will be charged criminally for Theft, regardless of the value of the item they take. You will have charges on your criminal record, and you may face future difficulties. A background check will reveal this information.

There is a record of the charge in the CPIC database of the local police, and in some cases, it is also stored permanently in the CBP and FBI database of US Customs and Border Protection. If you have been charged with shoplifting, it can appear on certain types of employment checks, even if you have been acquitted of charges that were withdrawn. Depending on your status in Canada as well, there may be possible immigration consequences you may face.

If the people, store, or service you are stealing from file charges against you, you will be charged and arrested, requiring the taking of your fingerprints. Having one’s fingerprints taken and being arrested are now permanent records logged into a criminal database.

If you are convicted after a trial, you will have an entry on your criminal record indicating that you have been convicted. This entry will be visible to anyone conducting a background check.

Shoplifters are Caught in What Ways?

Security agents in plain clothes or uniforms usually catch shoplifters in retail stores. People are generally apprehended after leaving the store and taken to a security office after being apprehended.

Many security agents are friendly and can easily solicit a person’s name, address, phone number, and birth date. Additionally, they might promise that they will not call the police if they cooperate with them. Some may elicit information and/or confessions from the alleged suspect using intimidation or threats.

You can find CCTV cameras at every corner of every retail store. You may be caught immediately if you are noticed behaving suspiciously by a staff member. However, you should not feel relieved if you are lucky enough to get away from the shop without being caught. It is still possible to be caught.

CCTV footage is often checked by the security department twice daily or weekly. In other words, if they were able to locate your face, they would call the police, who would then be able to locate you.

Is a Shoplifter Legally Entitled to Certain Rights?

You have the right to remain silent regardless of what someone asks you, whether the police or a shop security guard. If the police ask for any personal information from you, you will need to provide it to them. You may also want to get a lawyer involved if you receive a phone call from a store or department management. A lawyer may be able to discuss the matter with the management and attempt to settle without resorting to police being involved and charges being laid. Or, if charges are planning to be laid against you regardless -getting a lawyer involved at this early stage is always a wise choice to protect you and make sure you do not make any statements or say anything incriminating.

Prolonged Consequences

Unless you were a minor at the time, the charge and conviction associated with shoplifting would remain on your criminal record. Even if they were not convicted of shoplifting, the charge, arrest and fingerprinting of a suspect would still be public record.

You would still need to answer “yes” if you were asked if you have ever been arrested or charged with a crime for certain activities, such as travel or work. You would also have to acknowledge that you were convicted of shoplifting if the charge resulted in a conviction.

You may be barred from being selected for certain jobs if you have charges or convictions on your record. Additionally, you may be barred from entering the United States if you have been convicted or charged by an enforcement agency.

There Are Different Levels

In Toronto, the amount shoplifted will impact the overall charges. Steal smaller amounts could see you charged with “Theft Under $5,000”. Typically, if this is your first offence, the short-term consequences are small. Usually, there is a fine, probation, or short periods of imprisonment if there are prior related crimes.

It’s Not Usually About Money

Toronto courts understand that shoplifting usually isn’t about monetary gain. There are often deeper psychological issues or life conditions that lead to this crime. At Lawyers From The Six, Criminal Lawyers, we have high success rates in securing diversion for our shoplifting clients. This means that your charges will be removed in exchange for charitable donations, counselling, program attendance, or a letter of apology. This aims to really address the root of the problem rather than the symptom.

The Long-Term Consequences Are Worse Than The Short

Shoplifting doesn’t carry heavy jail time or large fines. The limited short-term consequences make people think committing and getting charged with this crime won’t matter. The long-term effects of having any criminal record, even with just a small shoplifting charge, can be detrimental. It will appear on background checks, might limit your ability to travel, and hinder your ability to find work or housing.

There Are Ways To Get It Removed

While a shoplifting charge or conviction is bad, don’t panic. Toronto courts realize that these charges aren’t usually serious, and often these charges are suspended. To get charges suspended, one usually has to wait for a certain amount of time to pass and fulfil other requirements. Still, ultimately the charges are removed, allowing you to return to normal life.

Procedures for trial and punishments for Theft

It is possible to charge yourself with Theft of more than $5,000 or less than $5,000, based on the amount of the item you believe was taken.

Theft less than $5 is considered a hybrid offence. The Crown prosecutor may choose to treat the crime as an indictable summary conviction that is a less serious offence or as an indictable offence that is more serious. Suppose this is your first offence, and you are a first-time offender. In that case, the Crown prosecutor will likely select the less severe summary conviction process that carries the maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine or two years less per day in prison.

In general, the penalty for first-time offenders is generally an insignificant fine and probation and an immediate or conditional release. In some cases, the Crown may offer the possibility of undertaking community service or removing the charge, even if it’s a small one.

If the Crown prosecutor decides to consider the offence as a serious, indictable crime and sentence you to prison, it could be significantly more serious. Any theft that exceeds $5,000 is considered a serious indictable crime and can carry the maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.

Power Of Store Security

If the store owner or security guard believes that you have committed shoplifting, the security of the store could place the person in their custody. Be aware that they cannot remain in the store for long periods and are required to contact the police immediately. Additionally, you’re not required to answer any questions the manager or security guard asks at the store.

Do I Get a Criminal Record for Shoplifting?

While shoplifting typically has lesser penalties, particularly in the case of first-time offenders. However, The long-term consequences can be significant. Although it is possible to get only an infraction of community or probation or fines, a criminal record can be a major influence on your life. Therefore, it’s crucial to find a reputable Toronto attorney for Theft.

Criminal records can impact your future. Some of the factors that it could influence include:

  • This makes it difficult to find work
  • In the event of losing your current job,
  • Travel limitations
  • Sentences for the future are harsher
  • Loss of rights

Criminal Defence Lawyers in Toronto and Southern Ontario

If you or someone you know has been accused of shoplifting, do not hesitate to hire a criminal lawyer.

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