Shopping Discussion

Shoplifting - Honest Mistake

  • Last Updated:
  • Jun 16th, 2019 3:39 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 22, 2015
53 posts
8 upvotes
Toroq, ON

Shoplifting - Honest Mistake

My colleague (new immigrant) was accused of shoplifting at a big box store but claims it was an honest mistake. She was with her 2 young kids and looking at some costume jewellery valued at approximately $50. Her 2 year old daughter was becoming fussy and she placed the items on the canopy of the stroller. She continued to walk around the store and when both her kids got fussy she decided to leave; however she honestly forgot about the jewellery and as she walked out, an undercover security approached her. Eventually police were called and she was given a ticket to appear in court. The officers reassured her everything will be ok and to be honest to the judge. She is extremely upset and even offered to pay for the items when she realized what happened. She says she was distracted by her kids and forgot it was in the stroller.

Will she require a lawyer to go to court?
What can she expect moving forward?
Can she get a copy of the in-store video surveillance?

Any tips on how to deal with this - I believe that it was an honest mistake - that’s why I’m taking the time to try and help her.

*update - they got a lawyer and given this was a first offence, the case will likely be dropped based on previous similar cases. The lawyer confirmed that this happens all the time (innocently walking out with an item when distracted) and that in this case, the value of the items is very minimal so there is a very high possibility the case will be dropped. The lawyer has reached out to the crown and hopes to have everything resolved before even getting finger printed or going to court. The lawyer did say that Yorkdale Mall has a high number of attempted thefts with children and strollers, however the value of the items is much higher and the case almost always goes in front of the judge. The lawyer confirmed that this will have no impact on her future citizenship.

Thanks to everyone for the feedback and guidance.
Last edited by Newmomtotwins on Jun 16th, 2019 10:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
51 replies
Deal Guru
User avatar
Feb 11, 2007
10680 posts
9858 upvotes
Oakville
It probably would affect her application so she should probably lawyer up or at least speak to one if she doesn't want to mess it up.
Sr. Member
Nov 2, 2015
553 posts
197 upvotes
Markham
Not sure if its real honest mistake or pretend to be honest mistake

Its better for her to hire lawyer to go to court
it may affect her citizenship application as CIC will ask if you charged, arrested or convicted and she may get criminal record

That's affect her employment or credit in future too
Jr. Member
Dec 1, 2009
149 posts
90 upvotes
Did your "friend" go into the big box store to buy anything or no? It would be more believable if your "friend" actually bought some other items and forgot to pay for one than going into the store, not buying anything and walking out not paying for the jewelry.

I have a friend who was a student and was denied a work visa due to a dui conviction. He lawyered up to fight the DUI charge, paid 5k to a lawyer who basically did nothing. In the end, my friend had to leave the country because he was denied a work visa.
Deal Fanatic
Jul 4, 2004
8005 posts
928 upvotes
If this is her first criminal related offense, and there was no violence involved, the prosecutor may request that she complete a diversion program and upon her successful completion there will be no criminal record given. She should speak with the prosecutor ahead of time and explain what had happened, and the prosecutor may let her know what they're going to be requesting.

Some useful information can be found here, Your text to link here...

Interesting enough, as I was typing in "shoplifting" in Google "shoplifting in Canada" was a amongst the returned results. So your friend is most certainly not alone.
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Jr. Member
Mar 20, 2011
162 posts
94 upvotes
Langley, BC
I can see how it could happen, however it certainly doesn't look good at all. The officers are not really interested in the legal process after giving the ticket so I wouldn't rely on them saying "everything will be ok". Your friend absolutely needs to consult with a lawyer. I've heard of people having their PR revoked if they are committed of a crime so as a new immigrant this is especially critical.
Frankie3s wrote:
Jun 10th, 2019 6:21 pm
Interesting enough, as I was typing in "shoplifting" in Google "shoplifting in Canada" was a amongst the returned results. So your friend is most certainly not alone.
The suggestions are based on your location so this isn't surprising.
Deal Addict
Sep 20, 2008
1295 posts
356 upvotes
Kanata
Will she require a lawyer to go to court? It is her choice, she has the ability to defend herself, or seek legal aid, depending on her financial circumstances.
What can she expect moving forward? Depends on how things go. It is not a ticket that she received, but probably a Promise to Appear, a release document stating she agrees to attend court. The date given is a first appearance, where she can make a plea. Before the trial, she should have a chance to speak to the Crown Counsel and see what they have to say. If she pleads not guilty, she will have a second appearance for a trial. In terms of punishment, a first offence and being such a minor offence, I would suspect some sort of diversion program if guilty.
Can she get a copy of the in-store video surveillance? If going to court, she has access to the court package, called disclosure, which should include the surveillance, if available.
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Jul 4, 2004
8005 posts
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CanadaJimmy wrote:
Jun 10th, 2019 6:46 pm
I can see how it could happen, however it certainly doesn't look good at all. The officers are not really interested in the legal process after giving the ticket so I wouldn't rely on them saying "everything will be ok". Your friend absolutely needs to consult with a lawyer. I've heard of people having their PR revoked if they are committed of a crime so as a new immigrant this is especially critical.


The suggestions are based on your location so this isn't surprising.
Ah those Bay Street bankers, who knew that so much shoplifting was going on in TO?
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Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 23, 2008
8171 posts
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Toronto (Markham)
It can happen when with young children... It's easy to get distracted. I know, happened to me.

Was at Scarborough Town with my kids a few years ago in Gap Kids... We were shopping and my kids were acting up, so I hung an infants dress on the stroller handle while I dealt with them. We continued shopping and made out purchases completely forgetting about the dress hanging on the stroller and walked right out the store. We must have walked around the mall for over an hour before going to the food court to have lunch and that's when I noticed the dress. I walked back into the store with the stroller and dress & returned it to the rack with none the wiser.
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Deal Addict
Dec 14, 2005
1223 posts
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chimaican wrote:
Jun 10th, 2019 8:41 pm
It can happen when with young children... It's easy to get distracted. I know, happened to me.

Was at Scarborough Town with my kids a few years ago in Gap Kids... We were shopping and my kids were acting up, so I hung an infants dress on the stroller handle while I dealt with them. We continued shopping and made out purchases completely forgetting about the dress hanging on the stroller and walked right out the store. We must have walked around the mall for over an hour before going to the food court to have lunch and that's when I noticed the dress. I walked back into the store with the stroller and dress & returned it to the rack with none the wiser.
Yes I have done the same as well. My kids throw stuff in my stroller all the time. I don't realize until after I I take evrything out of the stroller. I do return it back to the store.

A few weeks ago I bought something and decided I didn't want it after putting all the kids in the car,and we were at the mall for 4 hours with them so they're all tired and cranky. So I rushed back in to return it and then after I got my refund I picked up the item and proceeded to walk out of the store. The cashier didn't say anything either as I took the returned item in front of her. I turned around and said this is yours. We both laughed and both realize our mistakes.
Jr. Member
Feb 15, 2018
160 posts
174 upvotes
Accidental shop lifting can happen to the best of us, especially in these busy times where we are so deep in thought to a point of being absent minded. I once went to my local hardware store, where I am a regular, to pick up a tin of paint. Grabbed my paint and went to the help counter to get some advice on a certain home improvement project I was working on. Ended up being a very engaging 20 minute conversation and by the time we were done I couldn't wait to get home and put to use my new found knowledge. Ended up walking out without paying for my paint. Upon getting home I realized that I did not have a receipt and it dawned on me that I had not paid. Drove back to the store and walked up to the cash register and explained what happened and paid for the paint. We even ended up joking about it with the ladies at the cash register.

Your friend needs to consult with a lawyer ASAP to argue that there was no intent. I am sure the courts will look at the following circumstances:

1) Does she have a history of theft or dishonesty?
2) Does she fit the profile of a person who would steal $50 worth of merchandise. It would be more difficult to believe that a middle aged suburban chartered accountant making $150k would steal $50 worth of merchandise and wreck their career and risk a divorce. Would not make sense at all. And even if such a person did intentionally shop lift I am sure some kind of insanity could be pleaded. So your friend's education level, employment, family status and community standing could all be factors.
3) Did she make an effort to conceal the merchandise? Surveillance video should provide such evidences.

Mrs Lastman, wife of Toronto's former mayor, was once busted for shop lifting. Everyone understood that it was an accident because she would not want to jeopardize her husband's political career over stealing a pair of underwear. Besides they were so loaded as they owned the Bad Boy furniture store.
Newbie
User avatar
Feb 12, 2019
29 posts
29 upvotes
The officers reassured her everything will be ok and to be honest to the judge.

Are the officers the ones making judgement? Their assurance means NOTHING.

If she wants full discharge and not have a criminal record, she probably has to hire a lawyer (and waste loads of money), or at least hire a public defender, who's usually bloody useless and don't even care.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Feb 10, 2010
996 posts
445 upvotes
Ajax, ON
At the end is all about the judge discretion.

I know a case of a young lady who got caught shoplifting (she did it on purpose) and at the end the Judge decided to make her paid what she stole
( without keeping the merchandise) and that was it for her, because it was her first time I believe.
Deal Guru
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Mar 14, 2005
12347 posts
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City of Vancouver
I thought that if u have a clean record, or if u have never been caught shoplifting before, the law gives u a break.
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Deal Addict
Jan 29, 2017
1540 posts
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Might be worth talking with the Retailer, ideally with a lawyer, and see if an out of court settlement is possible and have those charges dropped.

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