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Theft or Fraud Over $5000

The Charge

People charged with the offence of theft or fraud over $5000 are in a serious situation because the Criminal Code no longer permits a jail sentence for these offences to be served conditionally, under house arrest, in the community.  Crown counsel will usually take the position that people charged with significant theft offences should be incarcerated; the greater the theft or fraud is, the more severe the sentence Crown will seek. Additionally, Crown will consider whether there are aggravating factors present – such as a breach of trust, the scope of the offence, or the amount of planning and deception involved. Where the value of theft is over $5000, the maximum sentence for a conviction is up to 10 years in prison; for fraud over $5000, the maximum sentence is 14 years in jail. Because people charged with theft or fraud over $5000 face such serious consequences, it is imperative that they seek the assistance of experienced defence counsel.

The Investigation

Every case is unique, but in the majority of the Theft/Fraud over $5000 cases that we see, our client has been accused of stealing from or defrauding a business associate, an employer or a client. Sometimes the complainant is an insurer. Rather than being confronted by police, it is often the business associate, client or employer that first accuses our client. Because this is not yet a police investigation, the accused person is not entitled to be advised of their right to a lawyer or to remain silent. The suspect in these cases certainly stands a good chance of incriminating themselves while trying to explain what they did. We certainly advise anyone who is being investigated for a theft or fraud over $5000 offence to call our office for advice at the earliest opportunity.

A person being investigated for theft or fraud over $5000 usually faces the prospect of both criminal charges and a civil action for recovery of the misappropriated funds. Where civil repayment is possible, we will attempt to settle the matter promptly with the goal of avoiding a criminal prosecution. Where clients are charged criminally, our goal is to negotiate a quick release from police custody and, where necessary, to obtain our client’s release from custody in court at a show cause (bail) hearing.

Recent Successes

R. vs. M.P. – ICBC insurance fraud investigation.

Charge: Insurance fraud.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to steer our client through the investigation by helping our client rectify the fraudulent information that he had provided to I.C.B.C. No charges approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. S.B. – Port Coquitlam Provincial Court

Charges: Assault Causing Bodily Harm; Assault Police Officer.
Issue: Given our client's severe mental health issues, whether he was criminally responsible for the offences.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to provide information about our client's mental health history to Crown counsel and, ultimately, was able to persuade Crown to end the prosecution. Stay of proceedings. No jail. No criminal record.

R. vs. J.H. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Mischief Under $5000.,br> Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier provided information about our client to Crown counsel and was able to persuade Crown that there was no public interest in prosecuting this matter. No charge approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. B.C. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Mischief Under $5000.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier provided information about our client to Crown counsel and was able to persuade Crown that there was no public interest in prosecuting this matter. No charge approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. W.F. – Richmond Provincial Court

Charge: Assault.
Issue: Whether this road rage incident was a criminal offence or a consensual fight.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to present Crown counsel with video evidence which confirmed that the complainant had engaged in a consensual altercation. Stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

R. vs. K.Y. – Surrey Provincial Court

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether the 18 month jail sentence Crown had sought was reasonable in all the circumstances.
Result: Mr. Johnson provided information to the Crown and Court and ultimately persuaded the trial judge to sentence our client to a 7 month conditional sentence , followed ny 18 months probation. No jail.

R. vs. G.W. – North Vancouver RCMP Investigation

Charge: Assault with a weapon.
Issue: Whether there was sufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able collect information from a defence witness and represent to police that our client should not  be prosecuted. Police concluded their investigation without recommending any criminal charge against our client. No criminal record.

R. vs. J.S. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault with a Weapon.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we directed our client to complete, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade Crown counsel to not approve any charge prior to the scheduled first court appearance. No criminal record.

R. vs. S.L. – Port Coquitlam Provincial Court

Charges: Possession of a loaded prohibited firearm; Unlawful storage of firearms.
Issue: Whether the warrant used to search our client's premises was lawful; whether our client posed a risk to re-offend.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to point to potential flaws in the warrant and police search which culminated in Crown's agreement to not pursue their original sentencing position of a 2-3 year jail sentence. Rather, the court accepted a joint submission of a 12 month conditional sentence with a curfew for the first six months. No jail.

R. vs. M.K.A. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Assault with a Weapon (x2).
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for the court to grant our client a conditional discharge.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to direct our client through a course of rehabilitative counselling, and after hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the trial judge granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. K.D. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps that we were able to guide our client through, whether there was a public interest in continuing with the prosecution.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to amend the bail condition to allow "permissive contact" with the complainant, and after providing Crown with a report from our client's psychologist Crown counsel ended the prosecution. Stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

R. vs. J.L. – Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Sexual assault; Unlawful Confinement; Assault by Choking.
Issue: Given the impact of the additional evidence that Mr. Johnson provided to Crown counsel, whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction.
Result: Crown counsel agreed that the new evidence significantly undermined the strength of the case.  Crown counsel entered a stay of proceedings, bringing the prosecution to an end. No jail. No criminal record.

The Defence

We are always happy to hear from clients at the earliest stage of a theft or fraud over $5000 investigation because we can offer these clients the very best potential outcome – the chance of no charges being approved at all. In our many years of defending financial crimes, we’ve learned that many complainants are more interested in recovering their loss than they are in pursuing a criminal conviction. In these cases, as well as those cases in which Crown has approved charges, our goal is to negotiate and obtain a civil settlement, which involves our client repaying the complainant on the complainant’s promise to provide a full release from any further civil liability. We find that in many cases, a complainant that has been compensated is no longer interested in pursuing criminal charges. In cases that do proceed, the courts will consider restitution and civil settlement to be mitigating factors upon sentencing.

Where Crown has approved theft/fraud over $5000, we have been successful in obtaining non-custodial sentences for our clients. For example, we have successfully persuaded Crown to break down “theft over” charges into a series of “theft under” charges so that a suspended sentence or conditional sentence became available.

In the event that the Crown’s case is very strong and it isn’t possible to negotiate a non-custodial sentence, we will prepare for trial to defend our client. Theft/Fraud over $5000 cases can involve fairly complex issues regarding the laws of evidence. We are well versed in the various technical rules of evidence as set out in the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and case law precedent. These rules involve the various requirements police and Crown must comply with when they seek to introduce business banking or other documentary evidence at trial. Our experience allows us to develop arguments at trial aimed at protecting our clients’ rights to have a fair trial as guaranteed by the Charter.

Start with a free consultation.

If you are being investigated by police or if you’ve been charged with a criminal or driving offence, don’t face the problem alone. Being accused of an offence is stressful. The prospects of a criminal record or jail sentence can be daunting. Even if you think there is no defence, we may be able to help. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our Vancouver lawyers, contact us now.