How The Seriousness Of A Shoplifting Charge Is Determined

There are many reasons why people shoplift.

Some people are ill, some are hungry, but some are just doing it for the challenge and can’t resist when the opportunity presents itself.

Does the amount stolen make a difference in how the charge is treated? For instance, is the charge viewed differently if it’s a couple of bottles of nail polish as opposed to a couple of Ipods? Certainly it does, and the facts and circumstances are looked at from the beginning. In other words, the police look at it differently, the Crown Attorneys look at it differently and a judge ultimately looks at it differently. Depending on the circumstances, it may be viewed a little bit more sympathetically.

If a homeless or poor person steals food to eat, they are going to be charged a lot more leniently than a woman who is gainfully employed stealing a piece of jewelry. We see a lot of shoplifting around Christmas time; people say they stole an Ipod or an Xbox or a Nintendo because they weren’t able to afford Christmas presents for their kids, and their kids are the only ones without it. It tugs at the heart strings to hear a story like that. On the other hand, if some 23-year-old stole decorations for his souped up Porsche, he is not likely to be viewed very sympathetically compared with someone who stole some food because they’ve got to survive.

So, the circumstances of the theft, the timing of it, and the items involved make a huge difference.

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.