Fraud and Theft

Criminal Lawyers Specializing In Fraud and Theft Charges

What You Need to Know

At its most basic level, theft is simply taking something that doesn’t belong to you (stealing). The basic legal principles of theft according to Canada’s Criminal Code involve a conversion of property that is not yours and a corresponding depravation to the owner. For example: if I simply steal your car, that is considered theft.  

A fraud is similar to theft, however involves an additional element of deceit or misrepresentation in the offence. For example, if I knowingly give you an NSF cheque for your car, that is fraud. Fraud takes on many forms – from pyramid schemes, identity theft, forgery, embezzlement, tax evasion, insurance/mortgage/bank fraud, perjury, cyber crimes – the list is endless and all are considered a felony under the Criminal Code of Canada.

The severity of a theft or fraud charge is largely dependent on two factors: 1) the value of the goods taken (the greater the value the more serious the offence) and 2) the sophistication of the theft (the more sophisticated the act or scheme the more serious the offence).  

For example, shoplifting, done often on a whim and involving a low value of goods would most often attract a small fine as a penalty. On the other hand, a complex pyramid or Ponzi Scheme involving hundreds of victims and the loss of millions of dollars can attract lengthy periods of incarceration. In a fraud allegation, the person or institution defrauded does not even necessarily have to suffer a loss – by simply issuing someone a bad cheque without them cashing it can complete the offence.  

Theft from an employer or defrauding an employer is a unique sub-category and is treated with great seriousness by the Courts as employees are in a ‘position of trust’ to employers, meaning essentially that employers are especially vulnerable to theft by employees. As such, even in cases when the value of the theft from employer is relatively low, Crown’s will routinely seek jail time and Judge will routinely grant it.  

Recent changes to the Criminal Code have made the consequences for higher end thefts and frauds more serious than ever before. Most notably, conditional sentence orders (house arrest) are no longer available to those people convicted of theft or fraud over $5,000. As such, a conviction for theft or fraud over $5,000 could very well result in a period of incarceration (jail).

The good news for you is that complicated theft and fraud charges may be difficult to prove in a court of law. Our experienced criminal theft and fraud lawyers can dissecting the Crown prosecutors’ case and raise a solid defence to the charges you face.

Legal Terms and Definitions

There are many variations in the Criminal Code of Canada outlining Fraud and Theft matters, such as:

Theft Under $5000: Stealing money or goods of a value of less than $5,000. Often this would include shoplifting charges.

Theft Over $5,000: Stealing money or goods of a value of more than $5,000. Conditional Sentence Orders (House arrest) are not available for these types of offences.

Fraud Under $5,000: Defrauding someone, or something, of a value of less than $5,000. In a fraud allegation the person or institution defrauded does not even necessary have to suffer a loss. Fraud can be made out where the deceit alleged could have resulted in a loss. For example, trying to cash a false cheque could be considered a fraud even if no funds are ever dispersed.

Fraud Over $5,000:  Defrauding someone, or something, of a value of more than $5,000. Conditional Sentence Orders (House arrest) are not available for these types of offences.

Uttering a forged document:  A very specific offence dealing with documents that are false or forged in some fashion. For example, a cheque on which you forged the signature, or a fake document you created yourself to obtain a benefit. 

Implications

Consequences of theft and fraud will vary depending on the severity of the crime. At a minimum, fines for petty theft or shoplifting may be incurred. Theft over $5,000 will exempt you from a conditional sentence (house arrest) and will come with a permanent criminal record. Long term effects from more complex fraud and theft issues will negatively impact your business and personal relationships. 

 

How We Can Help

Given the number of legal complexities surrounding these types of cases you will benefit from the assistance of experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel. The lawyers at Dunn and Associates will work to secure the best possible outcome for your case. Here are some of the possible areas where our firm can assist you:

Alternative Measures Program: If you caught committing a minor theft or shoplifting you may qualify for a referral to the Alternative Measures Program. This is a program that allows you to complete community service or make a donation in exchange for the charges being dropped. In order to take advantage of this program you must be referred to it by a Crown Prosecutor. A lawyer can help negotiate this outcome for you and help guide you through the process of completing the alternative measures program.

Trial: Taking your matter to trial means having the Crown Prosecutor prove beyond a reasonable doubt your guilt. Fraud cases are almost never cut and dry. More often than not there will be evidentiary and legal issues at trial that will give rise to a defence. The charges against you can be challenged in a number of ways:

Challenging the facts: How was the theft or fraud committed? Were there witnesses to the allegations? Did you police find a paper trial? Is there another explanation? Fraud cases are often prosecuted by following the paper-trail.  From an evidentiary standpoint, this may make it difficult for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt your guilt.

Interpreting the law in your favour: We argue the law and an precedent in a way which is most favourable to your specific case and fact scenario. This is achieved through careful and diligent legal research and application, which only comes with years of legal experience.
 
Violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Every Canadian Citizen and every person within the borders of Canada is entitled to the protection of our Constitution, and more specifically to the rights guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Some of the rights often violated by law enforcement officials are: your right to life, liberty and security of the person; your right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures; your right to be free from arbitrary detention and your right to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right. A violation of your constitutionally protected rights and freedoms which results in evidence being seized (computers; banking documentation; stolen goods; etc.) could be excluded from evidence at your trial and may render it impossible for the Crown to prove the case against you.

Sentence: In some cases, the best course of legal action may be to reduce the damage that may be done to you. Not all cases are defensible or result in acquittals. In these circumstances you will benefit from an experienced lawyer who can help keep your sentence as lenient as possible. This could include any number of possibilities:

Avoiding a Criminal Record: In less serious theft and fraud cases it may be possible to argue for a conditional discharge if you are convicted. This means that it may be possible to avoid the imposition of a conviction on your criminal record despite the fact that you were found guilty.

Avoiding jail time: Where jail is a possibility our lawyers will paint the best picture possible of your personal circumstances in an effort to avoid the possibility of incarceration. Often this will mean you will receive a fine or a period of probation.

Reducing jail time:  In those circumstances where jail is unavoidable the goal will be to keep any potential jail sentence as low as possible to ensure that your freedoms is effected as minimally as possible.

Call us. We can help.

If you have been accused of identity fraud, charged with stealing or have been involved in a Paypal scam, don’t simply plead guilty. Let our Calgary team of criminal lawyers help to understand your case and direct an appropriate course of action. 

Latest News Of Fraud and Theft

September 2012
    A Calgary man accused of benefiting from a fraudulent cancer fundraiser is recovering in hospital, after allegedly being beaten up at the Calgary Remand Centre. Kristopher Cook's lawyer Joel Chevrefils tells Global News the 29-year-old was attacked inside his cell. It happened on Sunday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Cook suffered serious injuries including a broken nose, a lacerated spleen, damage to his left eye and bruising on his torso and chest. He's being... more
September 2012
Kristopher Cook, the man accused of cashing in with a fabricated tale of cancer woe, will remain in hospital for two to three days, his lawyers said Tuesday. Cook suffered a lacerated spleen, broken nose, concussion and a serious eye injury during a vicious assault, first revealed by the Sun. It happened Sunday inside his Calgary Remand Centre cell, his first morning there awaiting his day in court to answer to fraud charges. Cook’s lawyer, Joel Chevrefils, said... more
September 2012
A man who pretended he had brain cancer to swindle cash from his Calgary friends has pleaded guilty to fraud. A fundraiser with local musicians was held for Kristopher Cook in July 2011, raising almost $7,500. Friends say they did his work, paid his rent and took him to and from the hospital, though no one ever went inside with him. The 28-year-old later disappeared. He was tracked down in Victoria and brought back to Calgary earlier this month. Cook will be back... more