If you have been charged with shoplifting, hiring a criminal defence paralegal who deals with criminal summery offences is the best way to ensure your criminal record and your reputation is protected. In some cases the shoplifting charge will be the result of an accident on your part.

It is easy to understand how paying for an item can be overlooked in certain circumstances. If you have been charged as result of forgetting to pay for an item in a store, you always have the option of pleading not guilty and attempting to convince the judge that your actions were unintentional.

You might be eligible for the diversion program that is determined by the Crown Attorney’s office. If they deem a theft offence to be of a minor nature (usually a small quantity of merchandise was taken and the property was recovered), the prosecutor may pre-approve eligibility into the diversion program. A person will not generally be eligible for diversion if they have had prior dealings with the police (even if it did not result in a criminal charge being laid).  

Once in the diversion program, the eligible candidate may be asked to complete one of a number of different tasks. In some jurisdictions, a person charged with theft may be required to make a donation to charity or a complete a minimum number of community service hours – or both.

Regardless of the requirements, the end result is usually the same. Once the diversion program has been completed to the satisfaction of the Crown Attorney, they will recommend to the court that the criminal charge of theft be withdrawn against the accused person. This will result in the accused person maintaining a clean record (assuming they didn't have a prior criminal record).

A theft conviction may also create difficulties for non-residents intending on becoming Canadian citizens.

Consulting a paralegal will assist you with your theft charges and will get you the best possible result, especially for non-residents who want to become Canadian citizen.