Ottawa Theft Offences Lawyer
Theft and property crimes are classified by the value of the stolen property. Lesser charges can be brought for theft of property valued at under $5,000, which charges might include shoplifting and petty theft. Charges for theft of property valued over $5,000 are more serious and can include corporate or employee theft.
Theft is further defined by whether it involved threats or actual violence against the person, robbery. Because of its threat of bodily harm, robbery is often considered a more serious offence.
Whether charged with the lessor or greater violation, theft requires that you retain the services of experienced and skilled Ottawa theft defence lawyers who are knowledgeable about the law and understand the players—police, prosecutors, and judges in Ottawa. To secure the best defence possible, call Auger Hollingsworth now. It’s important to retain an Ottawa theft defence lawyer timely so that your rights and defences are fully preserved.
What is Considered Theft?
Knowingly taking another’s property without their permission is theft. The taking can be by force, fraud, trickery, or just plain carrying away the object. The property can be money, personal property, a car, a credit card, or even one’s identity.
To prove a charge of theft under the Criminal Code 322(1), the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused took the property of someone else with the intent to take it away temporarily or permanently from its rightful owner. Theft might also include taking property for the purposes of a pledge or use of that property for security, to borrow an item and not return it, or to destroy the property so that it can no longer be used by its rightful owner. Like most criminal offences, a charge of theft requires that the prosecution prove the defendant intended to separate the property from its rightful owner.
Theft Over $5,000
The severity of the charge of theft increases with the value of the property stolen. Theft of property valued over $5,000 carries more severe penalties. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the theft, the prosecution might require a bail hearing and the posting of bail at the time of arrest. Upon a guilty plea or conviction, the court could sentence a defendant up to 10 years in prison, in addition to ordering restitution.
Penalties for Theft
In addition to the possibility of serving prison time—up to 2 years for theft of property valued at less than $5,000 and up to 10 years for theft of property valued over $5,000—
there are consequences to having a criminal record.
A criminal record could negatively impact your current employment as well as future employment opportunities. Many employers do criminal records checks before hiring new employees. The ability to support yourself and your family may be impaired.
A criminal record might prevent you from travelling to foreign countries, those which ban entry to travellers with prior convictions, securing immigration status and citizenship, and might affect your ability to gain an education, housing, and credit.
The court might require that you pay restitution to the victim, an obligation that might carry forward into the future, considerably impairing your ability to buy a home, a car, secure an education for you or your family, or start a business.
You might lose your business or professional license or have your membership in professional associations cancelled.
For non-residents of Canada, a criminal conviction might mean deportation and a ban from future travel to Canada.
Defences for Theft
The defences to a charge of theft depend on the facts of each case. The role of competent and effective Ottawa theft defence counsel is to investigate the conduct of the police in their investigation, how the police gathered all evidence, how the police identified and interrogated witnesses, and how police handled physical evidence. If there was misconduct, one defence would be to have the tainted evidence or witnesses excluded from trial, claiming violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Your own statements might also be excluded if you were interrogated by police or prosecutors improperly, violating the rules of the Canadian Charter.
It’s essential that you secure the services of an experienced Ottawa theft defence lawyer as soon as you are implicated in a criminal investigation to safeguard all your rights and defences.
Defences can also be factual. Witnesses can have imperfect memories, their own reasons for testifying against you might be tainted, or witnesses might believe they have information or memories when none are feasible. Again, competent theft defence lawyers know how to cross-examine witnesses to discern the true extent of their knowledge, and whether any biases are colouring their testimony.
The prosecution might be relying on surveillance tapes, opening other opportunities to contest the evidence and create reasonable doubt.
And of course, the property might have been taken by mistake or without the requisite intention required by Criminal Code 322(1).
Colour of Right
Another defence to a charge of theft is that you mistakenly believed you had a legal right to the property. That would negate the requisite criminal intent, requiring dismissal of the charges and consequently, no criminal record.
First Time Offenders
First time offenders often receive more lenient sentences, and with capable legal counsel representing you, might result in probation rather than prison time. Restitution, however, would still be required.
Contact our Ottawa Theft Lawyers Today
Choosing an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer can help preserve your rights and defences to criminal charges. At Auger Hollingsworth, we offer a free consultation session during which you can assess our lawyers and we can assess the strength of the prosecution’s claims. During this free consultation, we will:
- Review the criminal charges or the request for appearance or subpoena for documents, and any police reports and other documents.
- We will listen to your story and map out the areas for investigation, begin to compile a list of witnesses, and compose the various strategies the facts and law offer.
- We will provide you with an estimate of the cost of legal services.
- If we are unable to provide you with a defence, we will refer you to other counsel.
Call (613) 699-8192 today to schedule a free consultation with the knowledgeable Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.