Being charged with theft can have serious consequences. If you have been charged with theft, your best bet is to find a criminal defence lawyer who can help you beat the theft charges. Read this blog to learn how to beat a theft charge.
Theft Charges in Canada
Canada has two major theft charges: theft under $5000 and theft over $5000. Theft under $5000 is considered a hybrid offence, so, depending on the gravity of the theft, the Crown is able to choose whether to charge you with a summary offence or indictable offence. Theft over $5000, on the other hand, is a more serious crime and is more likely to be charged as an indictable offence. If you are charged with theft over $5000 the penalty is up to 10 years in prison, while if you receive a summary conviction for theft under $5000 you would receive at maximum six months in jail and a fine up to $2000.
Defences Against Theft Charges
There are several defences available to a person charged with theft. Depending on the situation, a different defence may be available; however, here are the primary defences against theft charges in Canada:
- Lacking Intent
- Unestablished Identity
- Colour of Right
Lacking Mental Intent
Lacking mental intent is a primary defence against theft charges. Lacking mental intent means you did not intend to commit a crime with your actions. This could mean that you took the items unknowingly, it was an accident, or you forgot to pay for something that you had intended to pay for. Examples of this are walking out of a store and forgetting you had not paid for an item, forgetting to scan something at a self-checkout counter, or keeping a package that was sent to you by mistake, not knowing it did not belong to you. If you can prove that you had no mental intention of illegally taking the items in question, you may be able to defend against your theft charges.
This defence is used in cases where the identity of the person who committed the theft is unclear. If the prosecution is using security footage or circumstantial evidence to prove who committed the crime, simply saying you are not the person in question is a defence against theft charges. If you are able to prove you were somewhere else while the theft occurred, you have a very clear defence of unestablished identity.
You were Under Duress
Duress in the Criminal Code is the defence that you committed the crime against your own will. This defence can be used if you were coerced or pressured into committing a crime. For example, someone else threatened you or a loved one with bodily harm if you did not steal for them. If a defendant can prove they were under duress as they feared the party coercing them into committing a crime, this defence can be used.
Colour of Right
Colour of right means that you believed you had a right to move or take the item in question. You can defend against a theft charge by saying you had a colour of right to the object. An example of this defence would be if the owner of the allegedly stolen item had agreed to lend it to the defendant. If you believe you were given permission to take or move the item in question, you would have a colour of right.
How to Beat a Theft Charge
The best way to beat a theft charge is to contact an experienced defence lawyer. Defence lawyers will help you understand the intricacies of your charges, and they will create a defence that will help you beat them. If you are charged with theft, contact a defence lawyer immediately.
Brian McGlashan is an established criminal defence attorney in the Edmonton area. He has helped countless clients defeat charges against them. If you are charged with theft, contact Brian and he will be your best shot at beating the charges.