The Range Of Sentencing In Cases Involving Shoplifting

The range of sentencing on a charge of theft covers a wide range.

At the low end, you might get the charges withdrawn because you do community service or make a charitable donation. You can get a discharge, which means you don’t have a criminal conviction entered on your record. A discharge is invaluable because you don’t have to apply for a pardon if you get a discharge.

You could get a conviction and be given a fine and probation, or you could get a significant period of probation and a high fine, or you could go to jail. Usually jail is reserved for higher valued items and for individuals who have done it repeatedly, or for aggravating circumstances such as a breach of trust situation. In other words, if an employee of a store shoplifts, they are in a breach of trust situation. They may know where the cameras are, for instance. Or they may know who the store detectives are, or it may be the store detective who is shoplifting. Usually those individuals will not be able to qualify for lenient sentences or dispositions. If it’s disposed of without a criminal record or without a criminal charge, it’s not really a sentence.

Does this charge and conviction give this person a criminal record, and after a specified period of time can his charged be expunged?

If you are convicted, you do have a criminal record. That’s why a discharge is so valuable. But if you are convicted, you can apply for a pardon after three to five years, depending on the nature of the charge. If you do receive a pardon, the conviction will always be on your record, it just will show that you’ve been pardoned.

How quickly is a shoplifting charge handled in the courts?

Every charge follows the same route. We have to get the file. We have to meet with the Crown Attorney. We have to pre-try it regardless. It’s not quick, but it doesn’t take as long as a murder trial.

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.