9 Important Shoplifting Consequences and Penalties

Crimes are separated based on the severity of the crime committed, and the law reflects this accordingly. There can often be large disparities between consequences depending on the crime committed. Unfortunately, with the rise of inflation and the cost of living, shoplifting is increasingly common. Despite this, though, there are always ways around shoplifting. What shoplifters often fail to realize is that it does not affect only them: the livelihood of businesses in their area, the crime rates in a city, and their conscience.

Perhaps you are trying to determine whether shoplifting is worth it (hint: it is not), or maybe you are delivering a seminar in your workplace about the consequences of stealing from the cash register. In any case, there are consequences to shoplifting. The consequences may vary depend on the area you are from and the laws that pertain to it.

Here are nine consequences of shoplifting:

Shoplifting Consequence #1: Legal proceedings

There are two classifications of theft: below $5000 and above it. When you receive your charge (depending on what you stole and how much of it), you will need to plead guilty or not guilty. After that lengthy decision, if you choose to plead not guilty, a court date will be set, and you will need to appear in front of a judge to plead your case.

If you plead guilty, you accept responsibility for your actions and are subject to whatever punishment the court deems fit. Contact a Brampton criminal lawyer to represent you in court.

Consequence #2: Jail time

One example of an appropriate punishment, depending on how much you steal from a store, is time spent in jail. If you shoplift under $5000, there is a maximum fine of $2000 and up to six months in jail. That is six months’ worth of birthdays, weekends, and missed family gatherings. Theft over $5000 comes with even greater consequences; it can land you up to ten years in prison! That is a pretty high price to pay for a couple of necklaces.

Consequence #3: A fine

People guilty of shoplifting most likely pay a fine. The magnitude of the fine depends on the crime itself but can range from a couple of hundred dollars to $2000. You may also pay a booking fee to the city that processed your shoplifting crime.

Consequence #4: Criminal record

As mentioned, shoplifting (also known as theft under $5000) is considered a criminal offence in Canada. Although the gravity of criminal offences can vary greatly, they have one thing in common: they will end up on your criminal record. A criminal record itself has severe consequences.

Employment will undoubtedly be impacted as there is currently no legal protection against discrimination against those with a criminal record. If you have a criminal record, an employer is within their right to refuse to hire you. Many landlords feel the same. At many rentals, landlords require a criminal record check before signing a lease, and if something comes up, they are allowed to deny your rental application.

Consequence #5: Detention

If an employee at a store has reason to believe that you are shoplifting, store security has the right to hold you in their custody. Because they cannot hold you for longer than necessary, they must call the police immediately. Depending on how busy the police are, you may be held at the store for a while until the police arrive. Tell your parents you are going to be late for dinner!

Consequence #6: Travel restrictions

Yes, shoplifting can affect your family vacation to Hawaii. This relates to your criminal record. If you have a criminal record, a country can deny your entry, depending on the laws in the area and the severity of your theft.

Consequence #7: Banning from a store

After being caught stealing from a store, stores have the right to disallow you from entering in the future. This is because a store is considered private property, so they can legally ban someone from entering if they are a known shoplifter.

Consequence #8: Unusual punishments

When you are caught stealing, store managers and owners decide on a specific punishment for you. Because the alternative is having the police called on you and the incident being put on your criminal record, most people oblige. This leaves you vulnerable to their punishments— you never know what they may request.

Consequence #9: Diversion to avoid a criminal record

At the end of the day, though, the law is not black and white. They take into consideration your past offences, your demeanour, and your attitude. You could avoid a criminal record for your shoplifting charge if this is your first offence and if the value of the item is small. If you accept responsibility and are remorseful, the court will not sentence you. Instead, you may have to report to a probation officer and follow a program specifically for you.