A charge of theft, even a charge of petty shoplifting, is a serious matter that has the potential to change your life. Your freedom and future are both at risk, as theft charges can come with jail time and a criminal record can impact your ability to find work or housing in the future.
The experienced criminal defence lawyers at Merchant Law can help. We may be able to get the charges dropped, work out a plea bargain that reduces the consequences of the charges, or even get you acquitted.
What qualifies as petty theft?
The law doesn’t specifically name any type of theft as petty theft. Instead, lays out sentencing guidelines for thefts lower than $5000 and thefts higher than $5000.
Sometimes people will say “petty theft” if you took less than $5000 worth of property. They will also commonly use the term “shoplifting.” Both are the same offense under the Saskatchewan criminal code.
“Petty” or not, in Saskatchewan you may be put in prison for up to two years if you are convicted of this offense. Keep in mind that the Canadian Criminal Code makes no distinctions beyond the two aforementioned classes of theft. That means one defendant can steal $5 and one can steal $4999, and both may do two years of time if convicted. This doesn’t make it likely: judges often make allowances for the amount stolen and whether the theft was a first time offense. This merely drives home the severity of the charge.
What qualifies as grand theft?
Similarly, “grand theft” isn’t a term in the code. The charge would be “Possession or Theft Over $5000.”
This theft is punishable by up to $10 years in prison. Again, there is no encoded mitigation for amount stolen. You could steal $5001 and you could end up with the same sentence as someone who stole $50,001.
In addition to jail time, both types of theft can come with an order to pay restitution. In many cases, paying restitution becomes a lifelong burden on people who will never be able to pay. Thus it is absolutely vital that you receive the best defence you can when you are up against a theft charge of any kind.
What are “offenses resembling theft?”
These include taking a motor vehicle, a criminal breach of trust, the fraudulent taking of cattle, and taking possession of drift timber. While the cattle and drift timber charges don’t come up very often in Regina, the theft of motor vehicles and a criminal breach of trust do.
How can Merchant Law help?
There are four defences we can use to help. One is we can help to prove that you did pay for the property you’re being accused of taking. The second is to prove you were given the property. The third is to prove that you were merely mistaken: you believed you had a right to take the property or that it belonged to you. The fourth is to show you never even knew you had the property in your possession.
There are options for having the charges dropped, for diversion to mental health services, for having the charges reduced, or for alternative sentencing such as house arrest. If you are actually innocent or the Crown has a weak case we can certainly also pursue acquittal, and have the skills to do so.
In trouble? Need help? Contact Merchant Law today to get a free consultation.