When many people think of theft, they most likely imagine a smashed car window or someone grabbing a handbag. However, many allegations involve fraud and financial crimes.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, theft is defined as unlawfully taking property while fraud is defined as using deceit, falsehood, or other fraudulent means to obtain property, money, or services.
Shoplifting, theft, and fraud are all serious charges that can result in a criminal record as well as fines, probation, or even time in prison.
Charges Related to Theft and Fraud
The area of theft and fraud law includes the following possible charges:
- Identity theft
- Forged or counterfeited documents
- Break and enter
- Theft from an employer
Punishment for Theft and Fraud
If you are convicted of theft or fraud under $5,000, it’s possible that you may face house arrest. However, when the amount exceeds $5,000, you could end up spending time in jail.
When it comes to imprisonment, the length of the sentence depends on other aggravating factors such as the amount stolen, the degree of planning, the number of victims and the impact on their personal circumstances, and the destroying or concealing of papers or evidence.
Frequently Asked Questions About Theft and Fraud Charges in Alberta
1. Can a theft charge be dropped?
Fortunately, in the province of Alberta, there is a program called the Alternative Measures Program that can help you have charges dropped for minor thefts such as shoplifting – as long as you don’t have a previous record.
2. Can I be convicted for theft if there’s no evidence?
When it comes to theft charges, the Crown Prosecutor must prove that you took property from the lawful owner with the intent of depriving them of that property. Therefore, you cannot be convicted of theft without this evidence.
3. What are the best defences for a fraud charge?
Some common defences to fraud include arguing that you did not intend of committing the fraud required to be guilty of this offence. You can also defend these charges by proving that there no loss or risk of loss to the complainant.
You can also argue that the evidence against you was gathered in violation of your Chartered rights and should be excluded – if this is the case.
4. Can I avoid a fraud charge if I pay back the money?
Because fraud cases take time and effort to put together by the Crown Prosecutor and police, there is a possibility that an offer to pay back the money or value of the property (also known as “restitution”) can result in an agreement to withdraw the charges.
It can also be a factor that the judge may consider when imposing a sentence upon conviction.
I’ve Been Charged With Theft/Fraud. What Do I Do Now?
A theft or fraud conviction will result in a criminal record, which brings with it long-term consequences. Get experienced advice at every stage from DDSG Criminal Law. Call our team today.