The Definition Of Shoplifting Under The Criminal Code

Shoplifting belongs under the Criminal Code provision for theft, which is categorized in two ways: theft over $5,000 or theft under $5,000, referring to the monetary value of the item that has been allegedly stolen.

Ordinarily, shoplifting is restricted to offenses in which someone has taken an item out of a store or some sort of business establishment, as opposed to stealing from a big government agency or stealing from another private individual. Even though a store is technically a private individual, someone who goes shopping and walks out with an item is shoplifting.

The most important thing to remember with respect to shoplifting is that the offense is not committed when someone takes an item off the shelf and puts it into their shopping cart. Nor is it shoplifting when you take the item out of the cart or off the shelf and put it in your pocket. The offense is completed when you actually exit the store with the item without any attempt to pay for it.

Now obviously you can rebut that allegation by indicating that it was an oversight where there was actually no intention to steal the item, but the person who is accused of shoplifting will be judged on the manner in which they left the store without paying for the item. More often than not the defense is distraction. In other words, someone with a baby in a stroller or on a cell phone walks out and forgets to pay for the item.


If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with criminal law issues in the Ottawa, Ontario Region, contact Engel and Associates for a consultation.

This article is taken from a October 5, 2007 interview with Bruce Engel, Criminal Lawyer with Engel and Associates, an Ottawa, Ontario Criminal Law Firm. Note that laws vary from province to province. Please consult with a lawyer in your own area to be sure of the laws and specific issues in your own jurisdiction.