Michelle Johal has practiced exclusively in the area of criminal law since 2005. She has been consulted by local media outlets to provide her legal opinions.
Checkout Some FAQs About Theft, Fraud, And Shoplifting
What does “theft” mean?
Theft is defined in section 322 of the Criminal Code of Canada. It says:
322 (1) Everyone commits theft who fraudulently and without colour of right takes, or fraudulently and without colour of right converts to his use or to the use of another person, anything, whether animate or inanimate, with intent
- to deprive, temporarily or absolutely, the owner of it, or a person who has a special property or interest in it, of the thing or of his property or interest in it;
- to pledge it or deposit it as security;
- to part with it under a condition with respect to its return that the person who parts with it may be unable to perform; or
- to deal with it in such a manner that it cannot be restored in the condition in which it was at the time it was taken or converted.
In simpler terms, theft is when you take or convert anything and have the intent to keep it away from the owner; to use it as security; to put conditions on it that will make it impossible for the item(s) to be returned; or to do something with the item that makes it impossible to bring the item back to its original condition.
The item that is stolen does not have to be physical – it can be something that we cannot physically hold, see, or touch. An example provided in the Criminal Code is bank credit.
It is quite common that first-time offenders are charged with theft or shoplifting.
What does “shoplifting” mean?
Shoplifting is a form of theft, which refers to taking an item or items from a retail store without paying for them.
What does “fraud” mean?
Fraud is when you use deceit or falsehoods (lies) to obtain money, property, valuable security or service. It also includes using deceit or falsehoods and affecting the public marketplace when it comes to stocks and shares.
What is “diversion?”
It is common for a client who is a first-time offender to be offered “diversion” by the Crown. Diversion is an offer to complete something outside the formal court process to have your charge withdrawn (permanently dropped) or stayed (paused for a maximum of 1 year). Diversion can include any or a combination of the following:
- Community service;
- This can be for anger management, addiction, or mental health
- A letter of apology;
- A donation to a charity of your choice; or
- Payment to the alleged victim.
Sometimes, diversion may require that you accept responsibility for your actions on the day of the offence.
If you are offered diversion from the Crown, there is usually a direct accountability program that is officially offered by the court. There will be a diversion worker who explains the program and options available and coordinates the out-of-court work you will do. Oftentimes, there is a diversion worker present in court with whom you can have this conversation, should you choose to do so.
Depending on what you are required to do, your case will be “adjourned” for completion. An adjournment is a postponement of your case to allow you complete the diversion work you have been offered. Once you complete diversion and provide proof to the Crown before your next court date, your charges will be withdrawn. This means that there will be no criminal record and the Crown will not be able to prosecute you for the same charge again. It is the finale of your court case.
Accepting and entering into a diversion program is a voluntary decision. A decision should be made after speaking with an experienced lawyer.
Potential impacts of a guilty plea or finding of guilt
Before pleading guilty, it is important that you know the potential consequences you may face. Since the Criminal Code categorizes some of these crimes as offences for values above and below $5,000, the punishments vary.
A finding of guilt can result:
- A criminal record;
- Limited employment opportunities as a result of the criminal record;
- Being banned from a specific retail establishment; and/or
- A term of imprisonment for a maximum of 10 years.
The following represents only a sample of cases that were scheduled for trial. These do not include favourable resolutions that were negotiated with the Crown before a trial date was scheduled.
O.A. was charged with Possession of Cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and simple possession of Cocaine. Mr. O. and his co-accused had an encounter with the police in the parking lot of a community centre in Brampton. Mr. O.A. vehicle was searched by the police without a warrant and approximately 100 grams of cocaine was located. Counsel Michelle Johal applied to exclude the evidence on the grounds that the evidence was obtained in breach of his rights under Section 8, 9 and 10 of the Charter. Justice Molloy concluded that the search of the vehicle violated the Section 8 and 9 rights of the accused and excluded the evidence pursuant to s.24(2) of the Charter. The charges against Mr. O.A. were dismissed.
R. V. T.V.
T.V. was charged with produce marihuana, possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of proceeds. After a month long trial, the Judge found that the evidence failed to show that the accused committed the offence of production of marijuana at two residences either by her direct actions or by aiding and abetting. The judge also found that in the absence of proof beyond reasonable doubt of knowledge of any criminal source of the funds from unnamed sources, resulting in the purchase of the named properties in possession of the accused, or any linkage of those funds or properties beyond reasonable doubt to criminal conduct, that the proceeds charges should also be dismissed. All charges against the client were dismissed.
R. V. J.S.
J.S. was charged with production of marihuana. The police located a grow operation in the basement of her residence. The Crown initially took a position of 9 months jail as a result of the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences. The charge of production of marihuana was ultimately withdrawn by the crown.
R. V. H.S.
H.S. was charged with trafficking marihuana and possession of proceeds. York Region Police officers arrested him in his vehicle in the parking lot of a busy retail establishment. After successful resolution discussions with the Crown, the criminal charge against him was withdrawn.
R. V. O.A.
Client and his co-defendants were charged with trafficking in a large amount of cocaine. Following a trial in the Superior Court of Justice the charges were stayed because the police violated the client’s Charter right to be free unreasonable search and seizure due to the warrantless search of his van.
Discuss Your Case In Confidence
Our Brampton office is conveniently located beside the Criminal/Family Courthouse at 7755 Hurontario Street West, Brampton, Ontario. It is steps from the Peel Regional Police station where clients have to attend for fingerprinting.
Our Office is located on County Court Blvd across from the Tim Hortons in County Court Law Chambers.
The address is:
602-201 County Court Blvd
Brampton, ON L6W 4L2
We will respond to your inquiry within 24 hours.