Theft Lawyer Ottawa • Theft Lawyer Toronto • Theft Lawyer Cornwall

What is Theft & Mischief

The offence of theft is committed when you take something belong to someone else and convert it to your own use or the use of someone else. The offence of mischief is committed when you destroy or damage property. Together, they form the most common property offences. 

Why Fight Theft & Mischief Charges

Although often on the lower end of the seriousness scale, property offences still have the prospect of branding you with a criminal record, whether you're accused of shoplifting, graffiti art, or breaking the family television remote (seriously, we've defended that charge).

Just because they are less serious doesn't mean these offences will disappear by themselves. But a knowledgable lawyer may be able to negotiate diversion (where community service or charitable donation leads to charge withdraw), or at least a discharge (where there is a finding of guilt but no conviction and no criminal record).

Negotiations to make these kinds of offences go away are best conducted very early in the prosecution process. Once resources have been committed to setting a trial date, simply dropping the charges will be much less palatable for the prosecution. Your lawyer may be able to work out modest compensation for anyone affected by the alleged offence which will aid in their resolution, but only if you act quickly.

However sometimes you'll need a lawyer to take a property offence to trial. You always have the right to a trial. And you should never, never plead guilty to something you didn't do. 

How to Win a Property Offence Trial: Top 3 Defences

1. Lack of Intent

Because these are all mens rea offences, to be found guilty the prosecution must prove you intended the offence. So absentmindedly picking up an item in a store and honestly forgetting to put it back isn't a crime, and accidentally damaging public or private property likewise isn't a crime, even if you might be civilly liable for the damage.

2. Identification

If the only evidence of a crime is missing or damaged property, it might be difficult for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt who caused the property to disappear or become damaged. Perhaps someone else other than you is likely responsible for the offence. 

3. No offence committed by anyone

Perhaps the property didn't disappear or become damaged by a person at all. Maybe the property was just lost, or damaged by natural causes.