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Theft & Fraud

Shoplifting, theft, and fraud are all serious charges that can result not only in a criminal record upon conviction, but also in fines, probation, or even jail.

What Is Theft?

Theft is defined under the Criminal Code of Canada as the taking of property without the lawful authority to do so. Broadly speaking, in Canada, there are two types of theft:

  1. Theft under $5,000
  2. Theft over $5,000

There are no offences in Canada such as grand theft or petty theft.

To be convicted of theft, the Crown must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. They must show that the property was taken or stolen without permission and without the lawful authority to do so. In individual cases, there may be explanations or defences available to individuals charged with this crime. Individuals may also be charged with possession of stolen property.

Theft Under $5,000 In Alberta

Theft under $5,000 is exactly that, theft of cash or goods under $5,000. These types of thefts can include shoplifting or other forms of retail theft. In Canada, there are no separate offences for shoplifting or retail theft. All allegations of shoplifting, no matter how minor, may result in criminal charges for theft.

Theft Over $5,000 In Alberta

Theft over $5,000 is exactly that, theft of cash or goods over $5,000. Though these types of theft are less common, they are more serious. These crimes can include stealing from an employer or embezzlement.

What Is Identity Theft?

A related offence is Identity Theft. To prove Identity Theft the Crown must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of Identity Theft include:

  1. The accused obtained or possessed another person’s identity information; and,
  2. The accused intended to use the information to commit an indictable offence that includes fraud, deceit, or falsehood as an element of the offence.

You can also be charged in trafficking in Identity Information if you make available, distribute, sell, or offer for sale, another person’s Identity Information or have it in your possession for any of those purposes. You can also be charged with offences like possessing another person’s private information, ID, or documents, without a lawful reason to have them.

Identity Information includes any information of a type that is commonly used alone or in combination with other information to identify or purport to identify an individual. This includes a fingerprint, voice print, retina image, DNA, name, address, signature, financial information, Social Insurance Number, passport number, health insurance number, password, or even mail addressed to them.

What Is Fraud?

Fraud is defined under the Criminal Code of Canada as using deceit, falsehood, or other fraudulent means, to improperly get any property, money or service. Broadly speaking, in Canada, there are two types of Fraud:

  1. Fraud over $5000
  2. Fraud under $5000

In order to be convicted of Fraud, the Crown must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. There are two distinct elements that make up the offence of Fraud:

  1. A prohibited act of deceit or falsehood. In the absence of deceit or falsehood, the courts will look objectively for a “dishonest act,” or what a reasonable person would consider a dishonest act; and
  2. A deprivation caused by the prohibited act which caused an actual loss or placed the complainant at risk for an actual loss. This deprivation must relate to property, money, or any service.

To be convicted of fraud requires proof that the accused was aware that they were doing something wrong (for example, making a statement that they knew wasn’t true), and was aware that doing this could or would cause another person to lose something.

What Happens If You’re Charged With Fraud?

If you’ve been charged with fraud, jail is a real possibility. If the fraud was for more than one million dollars, there is a minimum punishment of two years imprisonment.

Looking For A Theft Or Fraud Lawyer In Edmonton?

If you have been charged with shoplifting theft, fraud, or another fraud-type offence in Edmonton or the surrounding area, it is important to maintain your right to silence and to speak to a criminal lawyer immediately. Even if you have not yet been charged but are being questioned by police or are worried about an investigation, it is important to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer.

Our criminal lawyers at Bottos Law Group are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you may have at 780-421-7001. We will fight for you, and we get results.

Contact Us Now

Can you be convicted of theft without evidence?
  • No, you cannot be convicted of theft without evidence. Like all charges, the Crown must prove the elements of the offence. This includes proving beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a taking or conversion of property from the legitimate owner, and that this was done with the intent to deprive them of that property. It is important to remember that an individual’s sworn testimony is evidence.

Can a theft charge be dropped?
  • Yes, in certain circumstances a theft charge may be dropped. Minor theft charges like shoplifting are sometimes dropped for individuals who have no previous record, upon the completion of community service. In Alberta, this is called the Alternative Measures Program. A lawyer can help get you into a program like this.

What happens when you go to court for petty theft?
  • There is no offence in Canada of “petty theft” — any theft charge is serious, and may result in a criminal record. Like all criminal offences, when you attend court, you will be asked if you have the evidence against you, called the “disclosure”. The judge will ask you what your plea is, and then set a date for trial or summary disposition. We urge you to contact a lawyer to discuss your case before entering a plea.

What are the different types of identity theft?
  • There are a number of different types of “identity theft” charges in the Criminal Code. For example, it is illegal to:

    • Possess someone else’s identity documents without a reason
    • To pretend to be someone else for personal gain
    • To utter forged documents (sign someone else’s name) among other types of charges

    All of these can be classified as types of identity theft.

Can identity theft charges be dropped?
  • Yes, similar to other theft charges, there is a possibility the charges may be dropped. Speaking with an experienced criminal lawyer will help you understand the seriousness of your charge so you can find a solution.

Is using a fake ID card identity theft?
  • Yes, and it is also illegal to possess a fake ID card.

How does someone get charged with fraud?
  • Like all Criminal charges, fraud requires “criminal intent.” Accidental mistakes are not fraud, but the deliberate intent to use false pretences for personal gain is fraud.

    If you have more questions about a possible fraud charge please contact one of our criminal lawyers for help.