The Range Of Sentencing For Shoplifting

When you receive a diversion in a case of shoplifting, or theft under $5000, the charges are withdrawn and there are no criminal consequences whatsoever.

You will sign a document taking responsibility for what you have done and probably pay a fine or do community service. If you plead guilty to a charge of shoplifting, then there is a range of sentencing.

At the low end of the range, you would receive a discharge, which means there is a finding of guilt made against you but there is no conviction entered. You will not have a criminal record because you have not been convicted of a crime. However, there still may be a police file on you because, even though you technically don’t have a criminal record, you did plead guilty and there is a finding of guilt. If you plead guilty, a higher range of sentencing is a suspended sentence and probation, which means you do have a criminal record and you are placed on probation. An even higher range of sentencing means you could be sentenced to pay a fine or you could be sentenced to jail.

A jail sentence would be reserved for the people who have appeared in court before and who may already have a criminal record. Perhaps they have a habit of shoplifting and at some point the Court says, enough is enough. Lighter sentences are not working and the Court may feel it has to send a stronger message. Those cases are rare but they do happen. In that case, the Crown can proceed by way of indictment or by summary conviction. For summary conviction, the maximum jail sentence is six months. If they proceed by indictment then the maximum sentence is two years, but it is very rare that the Crown would proceed with indictment on a shoplifting charge.

If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with criminal law issues in the Oshawa, Ontario Region, contact Mitch Engel Barrister & Solicitor for a consultation.

This article is taken from a April 11, 2008 interview with Mitch Engel, Criminal Lawyer with Mitch Engel Barristers Solicitors, Oshawa, 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.