I want to talk to you a little bit toddy about the consequences of shoplifting in terms of what’s going to happen or not happen in court. So obviously shoplifting is theft under $5,000 under the Criminal Code and we all know what shoplifting is; you go into a store and you lift a good and put it in your pocket and leave or walk out the store and you get charged with the offence.
So what happens in Ontario? First of all, it’s considered quite a minor criminal offence. Obviously, it’s one of the most common criminal offences in Canada, if not the most common frankly and what can typically happen? Well each county has their own little program for dealing with shoplifting and if you hire a lawyer they can often negotiate to get what’s called diversion. That means it can get diverted out of the criminal system where you avoid a criminal record. You might have to do certain things like, for example, pay a charitable donation or write a letter of apology or watch a video on shoplifting on the weekend at the probation office. So there are ways and means of avoiding a criminal record. We can often do that. The problematic thing for some of our clients is that some of our clients maintain that it was an accident. They were in a store and they put something in their pocket. They got distracted and they walked out and they get charged. What if they get offered diversion? Well it becomes a bit of a catch-22 because they can go to trial to try and win where they might get convicted and get a criminal record or they can take that diversion program if we can negotiate that. So these things have to be carefully assessed with each individual client. The worst case scenario on a shoplifting charge is you might receive a criminal record depending on the value of the good, but for minor goods we can often negotiate diversion with the Crown.
So it really pays to consider retaining a lawyer in this situation.