Crime, and the seriousness of a crime is a matter of degree. Not all offences should be treated equally, which is why Canadian law makes a point of correctly assessing the nature and scope of an offence. Double parking, while an offence in the eyes of the law, and punishable by a fine, is not considered a crime. On the other hand, impaired driving is considered a criminal act, and repeated impaired driving offences will be punished more and more severely.
This also extends into the offences that most people would undoubtedly consider crimes, such as assault or even theft. There is a huge gulf in severity, for example, between a drunken brawl based on a misunderstanding at a bar, versus a pre-meditated attempt to assault someone with a weapon, such as a knife. And when it comes to theft, there are also degrees to consider. But one thing remains clear regardless; theft is theft.
Violations & Crimes
While speeding, or trespassing are considered violations, or offences, they are not considered criminal acts. That’s why you can be fined with all the speeding tickets in the world, but this will have no repercussions on your ability to be hired or travel.
Shoplifting, however, is considered a form of theft, and theft itself is viewed as a crime. Even if you tried to steal something of relatively little value, and are caught in the act, the minimum you would be charged with is shoplifting/theft under $5000 in value. As a criminal offence, you would face the possibility of being fined, or a term of imprisonment, perhaps even both.
At the absolute minimum, if the people, store or service you are stealing from decide to press charges, you will be charged and arrested, requiring that your fingerprints be taken and entered on record. Even the act of being arrested and having your fingerprints taken are now part of a permanent record that is entered into a criminal database. Should you go to trial and a conviction is handed out, you will now also have an entry as a convicted criminal on your criminal record, which will be viewable to anyone that makes a background check.
Long Term Effects
Once you have been convicted of shoplifting, unless you were a minor at the time, the charge and conviction are permanently viewable on your criminal record. Even if you were not actually convicted of shoplifting, the charge, arrest and fingerprinting are still available as a matter of public record.
This means that for certain activities, such as travel, or even some forms of employment, if you are asked whether or not you have ever been arrested or charged with a crime, you would still need to answer “yes,” to that question. If the charge of shoplifting led to a conviction, you would also need to admit that you have a conviction on your record. In the case of employment prospects, the presence of charges and convictions on your record may bar you from being selected for certain jobs.
For travel purposes, enforcement agencies such as the US Customs & Border Patrol can bar your entry into America for either having a conviction, or being charged.
If you decide to take a chance and lie about this, you run the risk of a much harsher response should a background check be conducted to confirm your honesty. Now, not only is it discovered that you have the presence of criminal charges and/or convictions in your past, but you have willfully attempted to deceive people about it.
A Problem with a Solution
While the effects of having a shoplifting conviction on your criminal record in Canada can be both negative and impactful, they don’t have to be permanent. It’s possible to eventually have a conviction on a criminal record suspended. Depending on the nature of the offence, there are different timelines and requirements, but shoplifting is definitely an entry on a criminal record that can eventually be deleted, returning you back to a normal life, with normal professional opportunities.
If you have a shoplifting charge, as an adult, that is a part of your criminal record, you can do something about it, and we can help. Contact us and explain your situation. We can look at where you are now with regards to how long it’s been since the charge was filed and the fine/imprisonment was addressed, and tell you what you need to do to start getting that record suspended.