What To Do If Charged With Shoplifting In Alberta

shoplifting; charged; cirminal code; stealing; Alberta


What you do if you are facing shoplifting charges in Alberta, will depend on what section of the Criminal Code of Canada that you have been charged under. Shoplifting is considered theft. There are various offences that can fall under the category of theft. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the offence of Shoplifting. Shoplifting falls under section 334 of the Criminal code of Canada.

What Is The Definition Of Theft or Shoplifting?

The Criminal Code of Canada, under section 322, provides a definition on what theft means. It states:
Every one commits theft who fraudulently and without colour of right takes, or fraudulently and without colour of right converts to his use or to the use of another person, anything whether animate or inanimate, with intent.

What Is A Colour Of Right?

The term “colour of right” means that the person had the authority to take it. An example of a person who has a colour of right to take another person’s property would be a Bailiff appointed by the Court to come and remove property from a residence where a court order is in place to remove the occupants and the occupant’s possessions immediately from the premises due to lack of payment of rent. The Bailiff, and the bailiff alone, is granted this authority by the Court to take a person’s property.

Converts Means Theft

The term “converts” derives from “conversion” and what conversion means is to deprive someone else of their property to use for your own enjoyment. In other words this is theft, or if converting the property of a store, this is shoplifting.

What If I Shoplifted by Mistake?

The term “intent”, in regards to shoplifting charges, is an important word for the purposes of this offence. The person who is accused needs to have the intent to take someone else’s property. Intent needs to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the Crown Prosecutor. For example, if you remove an item from a shelf and knowingly place it (concealing it) into your bag and leave the store without paying that could be seen as intent. However, if you placed the item into your bag to hold before paying, then left the store and forgot to pay, the Crown would need to prove that you had the intention to steal that item. This would be done in trial by introducing evidence such as witness statements either from a store employee or a Loss Prevention Officer and, or closed circuit television (CCTV) footage provided by the store.

Sentencing Or Punishment For Shoplifting Charges

The punishment, if you are found guilty, depends on several things. The amount stolen is taken into consideration, and the circumstances of the offence and the circumstances of the offender are also taken into consideration by the Court.

Some shoplifting offences are referred to as “crimes of poverty”. What was taken is usually food or clothing because the accused cannot afford to buy the food or clothing. This does not excuse the accused from their actions, but the Court will take that into consideration when deciding what an appropriate punishment is.
If the property was taken from someone that you were in a position of trust with, or if you were in an authority position and used that authority to unlawfully take the property, the Court takes this into consideration and often imposes a harsher penalty. This is because the Court views this as a breach of trust or an abuse of power.

Defending or Pleading Guilty to Theft Charges

Depending on your situation and the evidence against you, your best course of action may be to either defend against the shoplifting charges or plead guilty and minimize the consequences against you. This decision is both legal and strategic. Before deciding on which course of action is better for you, it is important to speak to a criminal lawyer and get good legal advice.

Help Defending Or Pleading Shoplifting Charges

The criminal law lawyers at Kahane Law Office in Calgary are here to help with your shoplifting charges. We know that each situation is different. The resolution all depends on the facts and evidence of offence. If you or a loved one has been charged with theft or have shoplifting charges against you, please contact our offices to book a consultation to find out what options and defences are available. CONNECT NOW. We can be reached toll-free at 1-877-225-8817 (or 403-225-8810 locally in Calgary, Alberta), or email us directly here.