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Shoplifting Charges – All You Need to Know

Shoplifting is described as attempting to take something from someone with the intent to deprive the original owner of it. In Canada, shoplifting is a criminal offense. An act of taking merchandise or a product from a store with the “men’s rea” or intent to deprive the store owner of it is categorized as shoplifting. Usually, this is done by taking the goods and obscuring them in a bag, pocket, purse, or otherwise and walking out of the store without offering to pay for it. If you or someone you know has been charged with shoplifting, a criminal defence lawyer Vancouver can help you address the charge and fight your case.

What is the process of the investigation if you are charged with shoplifting?

Most people accused of shoplifting are hardworking people caught in the moment due to anxiety, financial trouble, temporary lack of reasoning, family issues, depression, or stress. More often than not, it is clouded judgment and an act done out of impulse which finds people being charged with shoplifting. If you are accused of shoplifting, you must remember some points about the legal process of addressing your issue:

  • The police do not actually “charge” anyone with shoplifting – they only recommend these charges to the prosecutor. The prosecutor approves these charges only if they analyze a significant possibility of conviction. It is only after this approval that the record is fed into criminal databases. If you seek an attorney very early on in your charge, they can convince the prosecutor not to approve the charge at all. When successful, you may have only to perform minor community services and admit responsibility, and you will have no criminal record. 
  • Most retail shop owners have the policy to penalize all shoplifters. If a security person at a store observes you shoplifting, they will initiate a “citizen’s arrest” and detain you until the police arrive. 
  • Usually, the police conditionally release most shoplifting suspects by giving them a Promise to Appear in Provincial Court at a future date. You may also be given a legal undertaking or notice which prohibits you from accessing that store again. 
  • If the prosecutor approves the charge, you will be required to attend court. Your attorney will conduct a full investigation by reviewing security camera footage and taking witness statements. 
  • Your attorney will assist you by trying to get you reduced jail sentences with probation in case you are found guilty. They can also apply for conditional discharge or plead for monetary penalization. 

Shoplifting charges can directly affect your reputation and status. It is a grave charge, and if found guilty, you may face issues in education, employment, and even immigration. If you are charged with shoplifting, contact an attorney at the earliest to prevent a criminal record. 

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