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Ontario Theft Charges

To understand how you may be able to fight your Ontario theft charges, first you must understand how the law defines “theft.”

Theft occurs where anyone fraudulently and without colour of right, either takes or converts anything with the intent to deprive the owner or the person who has a special interest in it.

“Taking” is as it sounds. It involves the physical movement of an item of personal property.

To “convert” on the other hand, involves, in essence, transforming the item into another form. This does not mean that conversion only occurs when, for example, an accused takes a piece of paper and burns it, thereby transforming the paper into ash. It can also occur when the accused takes an item, say for example a book and sells it to a store for money. The book is now converted into money.

Possible Defences for Theft

Some possible defences to your Ontario theft charges include: necessity and mistake of fact.

Necessity and Mistake of Fact


With respect to necessity, think of a scenario where in order to save someone’s life, the accused person had to steal a car in order to drive that person to the hospital.

Mistake of Fact

As for mistake of fact, imagine a situation where an accused leaves his/her car with valet at a restaurant. Suppose as well that another person arrives at the same restaurant, with an identical car and also leaves it with the valet. At the end of the night, the accused approaches the valet and requests his car. By mistake the valet gives to the accused the other identical car instead of his/her own car. This would likely not be found to be theft because, amongst other arguments that can be made, the accused was reasonably mistaken that the car he was given by the valet attendant was his/her car.


Another defence is accident, for example where your three year old child puts a chocolate bar in your coat without you knowing, and you leave the store without paying for it.

Penalties for Theft

Theft under $5000 falls under a type of offence called a “hybrid” offence.  This means that the Crown can elect to proceed in one of two ways: summarily or by indictment. Usually, depending on the nature, quality, and monetary value of the theft, the Crown will determine in which way it will proceed.

If the Crown chooses to proceed by indictment, then the upper punishment for someone found guilty in such a proceeding could be up to two years in jail where the monetary value of the theft does not exceed $5000.
Should the Crown elect to proceed by way of summary conviction, then the upper penalty for theft is six months in jail, again, provided the value of the theft does not exceed $5000.
Where the theft exceeds $5000, the Crown has no choice and must proceed by indictment.

These punishments however are for general theft. There are different types of theft that carry their own penalties.

When it comes to theft from a large retail store, it is common for a letter to be sent on the retailer’s behalf from a lawyer demanding that several hundred dollars be paid or they will sue. Do not fall victim to this kind of intimidation, provide us with all of your documents, and we will take care of the situation.

Recent Theft Cases & Success Stories

CASE STUDY: Motor Vehicle Theft Charges

Mr. M, a young person, found himself entangled in a legal battle when he was charged with multiple offences, including motor vehicle theft x2, masking with intent, and possessing property obtained by crime over $5,000. These charges carried serious consequences, potentially jeopardizing Mr. M’s freedom and reputation.

CASE STUDY: Theft Over $5,000 in Toronto

Our client found himself in trouble with the law when he was accused by his employer of stealing over $16,000. He was charged with theft over $5,000.

CASE STUDY: Domestic Assault x3, Criminal Harassment, Mischief Under & Theft Under – Charges Withdrawn

After a review of all disclosure materials with Mr. C it was evident that the complainant came forward with false allegations.

CASE STUDY: Charges Withdrawn: Theft Under $5000 (Shoplifting) & Possession Of Stolen Property Under $5000

Mr. S, a successful executive, had a lot on his mind. His adult autistic son was going through some difficult changes, his wife was coping the recent suicide of someone close to her. While Mr. S was picking up a few groceries and other small items, he forgot to pay for a couple of packs of batteries and a small movie figurine (costing $12.99) that got covered by items at the bottom of his shopping cart.

“Last month I was charged with theft under for shoplifting in a Toronto store. I was going through a difficult period in my life and I was very scared and extremely worried over this charge, my first brush with the law. I was very lucky to have Mr. Richard Aitken as my lawyer and the minute I called his office I knew I had chosen the right people. The staff were very understanding and helpful, they arranged an appointment for the following day at my preferred location and Mr. Richard Aitken agreed to take my case. He gave me some excellent advise and given the outcome the fee I was quoted was all worth it. My charges were withdrawn, I did not even have to appear in Court, my lawyer did so on my behalf. This was extremely comforting since I was all together emotionally devastated and I’m not sure I could have survived the experience without more added trauma. I would definitely recommend Mr. Richard Aitken to anyone looking for this type of help. Thank you Richard, I am so relieved this nightmare is over.” – DS


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