Exploring Theft Under $5000

Laws and Consequences in Canada

What is Theft Under $5000

What is Theft Under $5000? Theft under $5000 is not a significant criminal offence under Canadian law, but it does carry substantial consequences for those convicted. Defined in Section 334 of the Criminal Code of Canada, this offence involves the unauthorized taking or conversion of property valued at less than $5000. To gain a comprehensive understanding of theft under $5000, it's essential to delve into the specifics of the offence, associated penalties, and relevant case law.

Wording of the Offence

 Except where otherwise provided by law, every one 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.

Transitioning to the legal framework, the offence encompasses a wide range of actions involving the misappropriation of property. The Criminal Code stipulates that to establish theft, prosecutors must prove that the accused intentionally took or converted property belonging to another person without lawful authority. This definition underscores the necessity of proving both the actus reus and mens rea elements of the offence.

Moreover, theft under $5000 is broadly defined in Canadian law, encompassing various forms of misappropriation, including theft by deception, theft by finding, and theft by taking. This broad definition reflects the law's commitment to addressing all forms of dishonest conduct involving property, regardless of the specific circumstances.

Penalties for Theft Under $5000

Penalties for theft under $5000 vary depending on factors such as the value of the stolen property and the offender's criminal history. In cases involving lower-value stolen property and no aggravating factors, offenders may face lighter penalties, such as fines or probation. However, for more serious offences or repeat offenders, the penalties can escalate to include imprisonment.

Case Law for Theft Under $5000

Transitioning to case law, several landmark decisions have shaped the legal landscape surrounding theft under $5000 in Canada. In R. v. Kowlyk (1988), the majority found that the doctrine of recent possession may, but not must, allow a finding of guilt in a theft case. Per Dickson C.J. and McIntyre, Le Dain and La Forest JJ:

"Upon proof of the unexplained possession of recently stolen property, the trier of fact may‐‐but not must‐‐draw an inference of guilt of theft or of offences incidental thereto."

The doctrine allows for a person in possession of recently stolen property to be charged and convicted of the offence of theft, even if they were not the ones to commit the offence.

Case law has found over interesting aspects of the offence, such as the offence of shoplifting has been committed before the accused leaves the store. Another important finding in case law is that theft can occur where the accused is given money for one known purpose and intentionally uses the money for another purpose.

In conclusion, this offence may not be a significant criminal offence in Canada, but it still has far-reaching legal implications for those involved. Understanding the elements of the offence, associated penalties, and relevant case law is essential for individuals, legal professionals, and the general public alike. By staying informed about the legal framework surrounding the offence, we can work towards promoting accountability, justice, and a safer society for all.

Legality and oppression are not unknown to run hand in hand.
Hawkins, J., Roberts v. Jones; Willey v. Great Northern Railway Co. (1891), L. R. 2 Q. B. [1891], p. 203.