What You Need to Know About Theft Under $5000 vs. Theft Over $5000

PUBLISHED ON April 23, 2022

The difference between the offences of Theft Under $5000 and Theft Over $5000 probably seems obvious. Clearly, a major difference is the dollar amount of the alleged theft. There are other differences though – a big one is just how the two different offences are handled by the prosecutor. What follows below is for informational purposes only and is not offered as legal advice. Should you need legal advice, you must speak with a Toronto criminal lawyer.

The Definition of Theft in the Criminal Code of Canada

The Criminal Code defines theft, under s. 322, as follows:

322 (1) Every one commits theft who fraudulently and without colour of right takes, or fraudulently and without colour of right converts to his use or to the use of another person, anything, whether animate or inanimate, with intent

(a) to deprive, temporarily or absolutely, the owner of it, or a person who has a special property or interest in it, of the thing or of his  property or interest in it;

(b) to pledge it or deposit it as security;

(c) to part with it under a condition with respect to its return that the person who parts with it may be unable to perform; or

(d) to deal with it in such a manner that it cannot be restored in the condition in which it was at the time it was taken or converted.

Essentially, theft is an “offence against rights of property”. Section 334 of the Criminal Code enumerates the maximum penalties for the different theft offences: 

334 Except where otherwise provided by law, everyone who commits theft

(a) if the property stolen is a testamentary instrument or the value of what is stolen is more than $5,000, is guilty of

   (i) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years, or

   (ii) an offence punishable on summary conviction; or

(b) if the value of what is stolen is not more than $5,000, is guilty

   (i) of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or

   (ii) of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

So is Theft Under $5000 an Indictable Offence?

In an earlier article, I distinguished between summary, indictable, and hybrid offences. Many people are familiar with the American terms “felony” and “misdemeanour” offences and find it easier to understand these terms. Essentially, a “summary offence” is like a “misdemeanour” offence. While a summary offence is less serious than an indictable offence, it does not mean a finding of guilt for a summary offence is not without consequences. Consequences can include difficulties with travelling, employment, and immigration – just to name a few. As well, because Theft Under $5000 is a “hybrid” offence, the prosecutor can choose to prosecute the case by indictment. That is, you can still be subject to the greater penalties of indictable offences.    

Diversion

For some theft offences, the prosecutor might decide to offer some form of “diversion”: the Crown will withdraw (drop) the charge upon certain pre-conditions being met. Those conditions sometimes include volunteer/charity work, a letter of apology, restitution, or a charitable donation.  

Get A Competent Defence Team Working for You

Are you facing charges of Theft Over $5000 or Theft Under $5000 in Canada? Contact Brian Ross by calling (416) 658-5855 and learn more about the differences between Theft Under $5000 vs. Theft Over $5000.The information below is for informational purposes only and is not offered as legal advice.

CONTACT BRIAN ROSS

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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.

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