What is Diversion Program for Shoplifting in Canada?

PUBLISHED ON August 14, 2022

A diversion program for shoplifting offences offers an alternative way to deal with shoplifting/Theft Under $5000 charges that neither require a trial nor a guilty plea. Generally, it results in the shoplifting charge being withdrawn, and when a charge is withdrawn, it means that there is no “criminal record.” Below is a brief overview of the diversion process – it is not intended as legal advice. If you have been charged with a criminal offence, including a shoplifting offence, you should contact a criminal lawyer to receive legal advice about your case.  

What is Diversion Program for Shoplifting?

The diversion program for shoplifting allows alleged shoplifters to avoid prosecution by accepting responsibility for the theft and usually requires some up-front work to be done before the charge is withdrawn. This may include: 

  • A statement of apology
  • Restitution for the item(s) stolen
  • Community service/volunteer work
  • Completion of a substance abuse program
  • Anger management

The type(s) of things that may be required are tailored to the specific circumstances of the case.  

Who Isn’t Eligible for Diversion?

Diversion is typically offered to those who have no prior involvement in the criminal justice system. The prosecutor will also consider the following:

  • The value of the item(s) stolen
  • Cooperation at the time of the arrest
  • The character of the accused
  • Whether the store actually suffered a loss

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