Being accused of shoplifting can be embarrassing, stressful, and even traumatic. It also has the potential to impact your future for the rest of your life. You’ll need an experienced criminal defence lawyer to help you defend yourself against these charges.
The lawyers at Merchant Law can help. Our Regina criminal defence team has decades of experience and a proven track record of successful cases.
What is shoplifting?
The Canadian Criminal Code doesn’t really set aside any separate crime as shoplifting. It’s just theft, and is usually only applied to theft under $5000. This class of theft is punishable with fines of up to $2000, and up to 2 years in jail. These charges can get far more serious if you were armed while shoplifting.
The offense does go on your criminal record, and can have a significant impact on your ability to secure future employment or housing. Travel, especially travel to the US, may be restricted. Take these charges seriously.
It’s worth noting that sometimes police officers lay multiple charges on a shoplifter to make it easier for the Crown to secure a conviction. For example, they might try to charge you with possession of stolen property if they find the item on your person.
It’s important to note that you can be charged with shoplifting even if you didn’t leave the store yet. For example if you place an item into your bag instead of in your cart then a case may be made that you intended to steal the item, even if you intended to pay for it. Intent is hard to prove, and an “intent to steal” is enough to convict you.
What should you do if stopped by store security?
In-store loss prevention agents apprehend the vast majority of shoplifters. You should remember that you have the legal right to remain silent and the legal right to a lawyer. Refuse to answer questions, or to give your personal information. If you are outside the store you don’t even have to go with them, and are free to get in your car and drive away. It will be up to them to record your license plate number and to complain to the police.
You only have to provide your contact information to the police. Store security is likely to call them, but remember, that is all you have to give them. You can continue invoking your right to remain silent and your right to a lawyer.
Chances are you will be issued a Notice to Appear. It’s unusual for police to take you to jail for a shoplifting charge, though the Notice to Appear will direct you to a police station to have your fingerprints taken and will list your court date. Failing to do either can result in additional and more severe criminal charges.
Why Merchant Law?
There are many potential defences for shoplifting charges. For example, we can prove you actually purchased the items, did not know you had them, or had no intention of taking them out of the store without paying for them.
If we can’t get you acquitted we may be able to help you get the charges dropped or reduced. There are many options in a criminal case. We’ll lay yours out for you and help you determine the best strategy for your defence.
If you’re in trouble, don’t wait. Contact our offices today to get a free consultation and help with your criminal charges.