Defending Shoplifting Charges in Alberta
Cory Wilson is a criminal defence lawyer and theft defence lawyer serving all of Alberta, including Calgary, Okotoks, Airdrie, Strathmore, Cochrane, Canmore, Didsbury, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Grand Prairie and Turner Valley.
- What are the penalties for shoplifting in Alberta? Shoplifting, also known as theft under the Criminal Code of Canada, can lead to serious consequences in Alberta. The penalties depend on the value of the stolen items, ranging from summary conviction offences for items under $5,000 to indictable offences for items exceeding $5,000.
- What should I do if I am charged with shoplifting in Alberta? If you are charged with shoplifting in Alberta, it is crucial to seek legal representation immediately. Consult with an experienced criminal defence lawyer who specializes in theft cases. They will guide you through the legal process and help build a strong defence.
- Can I be arrested for shoplifting without leaving the store? Yes, you can be arrested for shoplifting even if you have not left the store. If store personnel or security witnesses suspicious behaviour or believes you have stolen something, they have the right to detain you and involve the police.
- What are common defences against shoplifting charges in Alberta? Several defences can be used against shoplifting charges in Alberta. Some common defences include mistaken identity, lack of intent, duress, and honest belief that you had permission to take the item. Your lawyer will assess the circumstances of your case and determine the most effective defence strategy.
- Can the store sue me civilly for shoplifting in addition to criminal charges? Yes, the store can pursue a civil lawsuit against you for shoplifting in addition to the criminal charges. The civil lawsuit seeks to recover damages resulting from the theft, such as the value of the stolen goods, loss of profits, and security expenses. It is crucial to consult with a lawyer who can help you navigate both criminal and civil aspects of the case.
- Will a shoplifting conviction result in a criminal record in Alberta? Yes, a shoplifting conviction in Alberta will result in a criminal record. This record can have significant long-term consequences, affecting employment opportunities, travel, and other aspects of your life. It is essential to mount a strong defence to avoid a conviction or seek alternative resolutions, such as diversion programs or conditional discharges.
- What is the difference between theft and shoplifting in Alberta? Theft is a broader term that encompasses various acts of unlawfully taking another person’s property. Shoplifting, on the other hand, specifically refers to stealing items from a retail establishment. The penalties for shoplifting may differ from those for theft committed elsewhere.
- Can video surveillance evidence be used against me in a shoplifting case? Yes, video surveillance footage is often used as evidence in shoplifting cases. Stores commonly employ video surveillance to monitor activities and identify potential thefts. Your defence lawyer will scrutinize the footage to ensure its accuracy and explore any potential defences against it.
- What are the potential outcomes of a shoplifting case in Alberta? The potential outcomes of a shoplifting case in Alberta vary depending on the circumstances and the strength of your defence. Possible outcomes include acquittal, reduction of charges, diversion programs, conditional discharges, fines, restitution, probation, and in some cases, imprisonment.
- Can I represent myself in a shoplifting case in Alberta? While it is your legal right to represent yourself, it is highly recommended to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer when facing shoplifting charges. They have the knowledge and expertise to navigate the legal system, assess evidence, build a defence strategy, and protect your rights throughout the process.
- Is it possible to have shoplifting charges expunged from my record in Alberta? In certain circumstances, it may be possible to have shoplifting charges expunged from your record in Alberta. Expungement refers to the legal process of erasing or sealing criminal records, effectively removing them from public view. However, expungement is not automatically granted, and the eligibility criteria can be strict. Consulting with a criminal defence lawyer who specializes in record suspension applications is crucial to understand your options and navigate the expungement process if it applies to your situation.
- What are the potential consequences of pleading guilty to shoplifting charges in Alberta? Pleading guilty to shoplifting charges in Alberta can have significant consequences. These may include a criminal record, potential jail time, fines, restitution to the store, loss of employment opportunities, damage to your reputation, and difficulties with travel or immigration. It is important to consult with a lawyer who can help you understand the full implications of a guilty plea and explore alternative options for defence.
- Can I negotiate a plea bargain for shoplifting charges in Alberta? Yes, it is possible to negotiate a plea bargain for shoplifting charges in Alberta. A plea bargain involves reaching an agreement with the prosecutor to reduce or modify the charges in exchange for a guilty plea. An experienced criminal defence lawyer can advocate on your behalf during plea negotiations to achieve the most favourable outcome possible.
- How long does the legal process for shoplifting charges in Alberta typically take? The length of the legal process for shoplifting charges in Alberta can vary depending on various factors, such as the complexity of the case, court scheduling, and availability of evidence. Simple cases may be resolved relatively quickly, while more complex cases can take several months or longer to reach a resolution. Your lawyer will provide a more accurate timeline based on the specifics of your case.
- Can I avoid going to trial for shoplifting charges in Alberta? Yes, it is possible to avoid going to trial for shoplifting charges in Alberta. Your defence lawyer may explore alternative resolutions, such as diversion programs, conditional discharges, or negotiated plea agreements, which can help avoid the need for a trial. However, the availability of these options will depend on the circumstances of your case and the discretion of the prosecutor.
- What should I do if I believe I am wrongfully accused of shoplifting in Alberta? If you believe you are wrongfully accused of shoplifting in Alberta, it is crucial to gather as much evidence as possible to support your innocence. Document any witnesses, obtain receipts or other proof of purchase, and gather any other relevant information that can help prove your case. Contact a skilled criminal defence lawyer immediately to assess the situation and build a robust defence strategy.
- Can I sue the store for false accusations of shoplifting in Alberta? In certain circumstances, you may be able to sue the store for false accusations of shoplifting in Alberta. False accusations can cause harm to your reputation, emotional distress, and financial losses. Consult with a civil litigation lawyer who specializes in defamation or wrongful accusation cases to discuss the potential for legal action against the store.
- Are there any diversion programs available for first-time shoplifting offenders in Alberta? Yes, Alberta offers diversion programs for first-time shoplifting offenders. These programs aim to provide an alternative to traditional court proceedings by focusing on rehabilitation and education rather than punishment. Successful completion of a diversion program may result in charges being withdrawn, providing an opportunity to avoid a criminal record.
- Can I change lawyers if I am not satisfied with my current legal representation for shoplifting charges in Alberta? Yes, you have the right to change lawyers if you are not satisfied with your current legal representation. It is important to have a strong and trusting relationship with your lawyer, as they play a crucial role in your defence. Consult with a new lawyer who specializes in criminal defence to discuss your concerns and explore the possibility of transferring your case and obtaining new legal representation.
- How can I find the right criminal defence lawyer for my shoplifting case in Alberta? Finding the right criminal defence lawyer for your shoplifting case in Alberta is essential for a strong defence. Consider the following steps:
- Research: Look for lawyers who specialize in criminal defence and have experience handling shoplifting cases. Read reviews, check their success rate, and consider their reputation.
- Consultations: Schedule consultations with multiple lawyers to discuss your case. Ask about their experience, strategies, and fees.
- Compatibility: Assess the lawyer’s communication style, trustworthiness, and whether you feel comfortable working with them.
- Fees: Discuss the lawyer’s fee structure and ensure it aligns with your budget.
- Decision: After considering all these factors, choose the lawyer who best meets your needs.
- What evidence can be used against me in a shoplifting case in Alberta? Various types of evidence can be used against you in a shoplifting case in Alberta, including but not limited to:
- Video surveillance footage capturing the alleged theft.
- Eyewitness testimony from store personnel or other customers.
- Confessions or statements made to store security or the police.
- Physical evidence, such as stolen merchandise found on your person or in your possession.
- Receipts or other records indicating lack of payment for the items in question.
- Expert testimony, if applicable, regarding the value or nature of the stolen items.
- Should I accept a plea deal if offered for my shoplifting charges in Alberta? Deciding whether to accept a plea deal for your shoplifting charges in Alberta requires careful consideration. Consult with your defence lawyer to thoroughly evaluate the offer and its potential consequences. Consider factors such as the strength of the prosecution’s case, the potential penalties if convicted at trial, and any potential impact on your future. Your lawyer can provide guidance based on their experience and knowledge of the specific circumstances of your case.
- Can I have my shoplifting charges dismissed if the store drops the complaint? The decision to drop or withdraw the complaint rests with the store or the prosecutor, not the accused. While a store’s decision to drop a complaint may influence the prosecution’s decision, it does not automatically lead to the dismissal of charges. The final decision lies with the prosecutor, who assesses the evidence and determines whether to proceed with the case.
- What can I expect during a shoplifting trial in Alberta? During a shoplifting trial in Alberta, both the prosecution and the defence will present their arguments, examine witnesses, and present evidence. The judge or jury will assess the evidence and make a determination of guilt or innocence. The trial process includes opening statements, examination and cross-examination of witnesses, presentation of evidence, closing arguments, and the judge’s decision or the jury’s verdict.
- Is it possible to get a conditional discharge for shoplifting charges in Alberta? Yes, it is possible to obtain a conditional discharge for shoplifting charges in Alberta under certain circumstances. A conditional discharge is a sentencing option that allows an offender to avoid a criminal conviction and instead serves a probationary period. Successfully completing the conditions set by the court can result in the charges being dismissed and no criminal record. The eligibility for a conditional discharge will depend on various factors, including the nature of the offence and the offender’s criminal history.
Remember, this FAQ serves as a general guide and should not be considered legal advice. It is important to consult with a qualified criminal defence lawyer in Alberta to obtain personalized guidance based on the specifics of your case.
Cory Wilson is a criminal defence lawyer based in Calgary and serving all of Alberta. If you have been charged with a criminal offence or are a suspect in a criminal investigation, call today for a free, no obligation consultation.