If someone has accused you of stealing from them, you might feel like returning the money or items in question or giving your side of the story will suffice in putting the matter behind you. Unfortunately, that won’t always happen. Instead, you could wind up facing theft charges.
Under these circumstances, knowing what you are up against can help you take the appropriate steps to defend yourself and your rights.
As an individual facing charges, it can feel like everyone is against you, from police and Crown attorneys to alleged victims and judges. This can feel disheartening and intimidating.
Further, law enforcement agents typically have more familiarity with the laws – and, importantly, how to get around them. This knowledge can give them the upper hand when they are talking to you or conducting an investigation.
However, you can level the playing field by having a lawyer. This person can help you protect yourself and navigate the legal process.
The punishments for theft in Ontario vary based on the value of items involved, your criminal background and other factors, like whether there was a violent altercation.
Depending on the unique circumstances of your case, possible penalties include imprisonment and fines. These penalties increase with aggravating factors.
To minimize your exposure to the harshest penalties, defending yourself against the charges is vital. Defence strategies could involve challenging witnesses, proving that the property in question was yours or showing the theft was out of necessity.
Stained criminal record
Having a theft offence on your criminal record can impact you long-term. It could prevent you from getting certain jobs, housing or financing. It could even threaten your status in the country if you are not a Canadian citizen.
So, even if an offence seems minor to you now, it could create problems long after you have put it behind you. Thus, avoiding these consequences can mean utilizing every resource available to protect your record.
If you are facing theft allegations, know that they won’t go away on their own. Understanding what you are up against could help you appreciate the importance of acting fast and getting help to defend yourself and your future.