What Are the Consequences of Being Convicted of Shoplifting?

PUBLISHED ON January 8, 2021

shoplifting Lawyer Toronto

Shoplifting is often associated with youth mischief.  Of course, youths are not the only ones that shoplift.  Many of those people found shoplifting are surprised to learn that they are not simply let go with a warning or told to simply never return to the store.  The reality is that shoplifting falls under the charge of “theft” and is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. A shoplifter could be charged with “Theft Under $5,000” or “Theft Over $5,000”, depending on the value of the property allegedly stolen. Being found guilty and convicted for either offence could result in a period of imprisonment.

While it is possible to receive a period of incarceration if convicted of a shoplifting related offence, the criminal justice system does not typically put shoplifters in jail – again though, this depends on the circumstances of the offence and the offender.  For this reason, you always want to ensure that you are represented by a qualified criminal defence lawyer in Toronto or anywhere in the GTA.

Again, factors that the Crown uses to determine if they will seek jail time for the accused include:

  • The circumstances of the crime. Shoplifting that involves using threats, violence or the fear of violence is more likely to result in a period of jail time. Indeed, the Crown may proceed on a charge of “robbery” (theft in addition to violence) in these circumstances.
  • Whether the accused has a criminal record and prior theft offences. A first-time offender charged with theft under $5,000 is not likely to be sent to jail, whereas someone who has a criminal record, especially one containing prior theft convictions, is more likely to be sentenced to a period of incarceration.
  • The value of the property stolen. The consequences for theft under $5,000 offences tend to be less severe than for theft over $5,000 offences.

Theft Under $5,000 Consequences

Shoplifting is the most common type of theft offence in Ontario. In most cases, the value of the items stolen is under $5,000. While theft under $5,000 is less serious than theft over $5,000, jail time could still be a possibility upon conviction.

The maximum jail time the court could impose is two years of incarceration if the Crown proceeds by “indictment”. For a summary conviction theft under charge, a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail are possibilities.

Theft Over $5,000 Consequences

While most shoplifting cases will fall under theft under $5,000, there are times when the value of the goods can be over $5,000. When this occurs, the accused is charged with theft over $5,000. If convicted and found guilty of theft over $5,000 by indictment, the accused could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in jail.

Is Shoplifting Recorded on My Criminal Record?

If you are convicted and found guilty of either theft under $5,000 or theft over $5,000, the offence is recorded on your criminal record. Having a criminal record can have long-reaching effects on your future, including:

  • Potential loss of current employment;
  • Creating difficulties in finding and maintaining new employment;
  • Restrictions on traveling outside Canada;
  • Immigration consequences;
  • Harsher sentencing if convicted and found guilty of additional criminal offences.

The foregoing is not intended to act as legal advice.  It is for informational purposes only.  While shoplifting might seem like a minor offence, it can have serious consequences including spending time in jail. To ensure the best outcome possible for your shoplifting offence and to obtain legal advice, you need to get help from a skilled criminal defence shoplifting lawyerContact an experienced lawyer in Toronto, like Brian Ross: call (416) 658-5855 to schedule a consultation today!


A criminal record can have lifelong ramifications. Don't take a chance with an inexperienced attorney. I will fight to get your life back as I have done with countless others before you.

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Brian Ross is a founding partner at Canada’s largest criminal Law firm, Rusonik, O’Connor, Robbins, Ross & Angelini, LLP. Prior to founding this firm, Brian was a partner at Pinkofskys, a leading law firm famous for its vigorous defence of its clients.

Selected for the 2022, 2023, and 2024 editions of the Best Lawyers in Canada

Inclusion in the Best Lawyers in Canada is based on a rigorous peer-review survey. Recognition by Best Lawyers symbolizes excellence in practice and specifically, high calibre work in criminal defence.


Mr. Ross is a member of the Criminal Lawyer’s Association and Legal Aid Ontario’s “Extremely Serious Matters” Panel, consisting of criminal lawyers deemed to have the proven experience necessary to conduct trials in the most serious of criminal matters.


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