The law in Saskatchewan does not distinguish between different types or methods of theft: only the amount of the theft matters. The method could be shoplifting, a robbery, or any form of fraud, but the charge boils down to whether the value of what you are accused of stealing is over $5,000 or under $5,000.
Theft charges also cover instances where you take property and convert it by trading it or reselling it. It does not matter that you bought the “new” property. What matters is the fact that the original theft took place.
Theft charges should be taken seriously as they can lead to a variety of consequences.
What the Crown Must Prove
To prove that you are guilty of theft, the Crown must show the following:
- You took, or converted to your use, or the use of another person, anything you did not own.
- You knew the property wasn’t yours and you intended to steal it.
- The owner did not consent to your use of the property or to your taking possession of the property.
Again, the method used to steal the property does not matter. Shoplifting is treated exactly the same as breaking into someone’s home and stealing their jewelry, though certain sentencing enhancements might apply. Acquiring the property can be done through any method of dishonesty, which is why this crime also covers fraud, embezzlement, and similar crimes. You might hear prosecutors speak of a crime “resembling theft,” but the base charge is still a theft charge.
The Crown must also show the actual value of the property shown for the purposes of classifying the severity of the crime.
In cases where you are being accused of possession of stolen property, the Crown must show:
- You obtained property that was first obtained by theft.
- You did so knowingly.
- The property was on your person, in a location that belonged to you, or was kept for your benefit.
Sentencing for possession of stolen property is similar to sentencing for theft.
Penalties for Theft
If you are charged with stealing less than $5,000 then you can be punished by up to 2 years in prison. You can also be asked to pay restitution.
If you are charged with stealing more than $5,000 you can be punished by up to 10 years in prison, and can, again, be asked to pay restitution. It doesn’t matter if the value was only one cent over $5,000; once you break that $5,000 threshold you’re facing tougher penalties.
There are things that we can do to reduce or mitigate these penalties.
For example, if you are charged with theft under $5,000 and this is your first offense we might be able to get you into the alternative measures program. An alternative measures program requires you to meet certain conditions, pay restitution, and perform community service in return for staying out of jail. If you successfully complete the program the prosecution withdraws the charges. That means your criminal record stays clean and the minimum amount of damage is done to your life.
Enhancements for Theft Charges
There are several factors which can cause sentencing for theft to become more severe. The first is if you were in a relationship of trust with the alleged victim. That is, if you were an employee or a family member, then the court might consider a harsher sentence.
The second is if you were in possession of stolen property that was brought in from another country, or if the offense involved communication with a criminal organization of any kind.
Armed robbery also makes your crime more severe, as does the theft of a vehicle, or livestock. Finally, courts are harsher on repeat offenders.
Defences for Theft Charges
As your Regina, SK criminal lawyers, we have several defences we can call upon when we’re working with you to navigate a theft charge.
- Actual innocence, which means that you did not commit the crime in question, and we can prove it.
- Lack of intent, which means you did not intend to steal the item in question, either because you didn’t realize the object was on your person or because you did not realize you did not have a right to the property.
- Ownership of the property in question ,which means you are the actual owner of the property, and we can prove it.
- Innocent possession, which means you took possession of the property, but only to return it to its rightful owner, or to the police.
- Violation of rights, which means law enforcement violated your rights during the investigation, thus invalidating the evidence they obtained unlawfully.
Be sure to provide us with as much information as possible about your case so that we can explore every avenue for your defence. We’ll also dig deep into the information the prosecution shares with us.
When the evidence works in your favor, we’ll work to get your charges dropped or dismissed, or will take the case all the way to trial if necessary. When the evidence works against you, we’ll work to get your charges reduced, or push for deferred prosecution agreements that can keep you out of prison.
Get Help Today
You should take a theft charge very seriously. It has the ability to impact every aspect of your life, even once you are out of prison. A criminal conviction can make it very difficult to secure employment or housing.
Fortunately, our team of criminal defence lawyers have the skills that it takes to minimize the impact of those charges on your life. We dig into every aspect of your case so that we can find what we need to get your charges dropped, dismissed, or reduced whenever possible.
Our team is responsive, empathic, and committed to delivering top-notch legal services. We will fight hard for you.
If you or a loved one need help, contact Regina Criminal Lawyers to schedule a case review by calling (306) 848-7777.