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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. A.N. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Assault with a Weapon.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we guided our client through, whether it was in the public interest for Crown to seek a conviction on this charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to permit our client to plead to the lesser offence of common assault. After hearing Mr. Johnson's submissions, the court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. J.J. - Richmond Provincial Court

Charges: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of  the Crown being able to prove that bodily harm occurred.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to permit our client to plead to the lesser offence of common assault. After hearing Mr. Johnson's submissions, the court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. S.W. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Given that the complainant had instigated the altercation, whether it was in the public interest for our client to be convicted of the offence.
Result: We were able to guide our client through a course of rehabilitation and, after hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the Court granted our client a conditional discharge and placed him on a non-reporting probation order for six months. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. S.W. - Richmond Provincial Court

Charge: Refusing to comply with a testing demand.
Issue: Given the circumstances of the offence and our client, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to proceed on the lesser Motor Vehicle Act offence of driving without due care. Rather than a criminal conviction and a minimum 12 month driving prohibition, our client was liable to pay a $350 fine and a 2 month driving prohibition. No criminal record.

R. vs. H.S. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Driving While Prohibited.
Issue: Given the circumstances of the offence and our client, whether it was necessary for Crown to proceed with the driving while prohibited charge, which carries a mandatory minimum 12 month driving prohibition.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to proceed on the lesser Motor Vehicle Act charge of driving without a driver's licence. After hearing Mr. Johnson's submissions our client was sentenced to a fine and a 4 month driving prohibition.

R. vs. J.S. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm (domestic).
Issue: Whether the Crown could prove that bodily harm resulted and, whether the rehabilitative steps our client had taken justified the Court granting a conditional discharge.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to proceed on the charge of common assault. After hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the Court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. C.M. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault; Threatening.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of conviction in this alleged "road rage" case.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to provide information to Crown counsel on our client's behalf that led Crown to conclude there was no substantial likelihood of conviction. No charge approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. M.D. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Theft Under $5000; Uttering Threats.
Issue: Whether, given our client's circumstances and remorse, whether it was in the public interest for criminal charges to proceed.
Result: We were able to provide information to police investigators which resulted in police deciding to not forward any charges to Crown. No criminal record.

R. vs. H.L. - Richmond Provincial Court

Charge: Sexual Assault.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to provide information to the Crown on our client's behalf that persuaded Crown that the case did not meet the charge approval standard. No charge was approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. S.F. - Provincial Court of Newfoundland

Charge: Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (Marijuana).
Issue: Whether it there was a substantial likelihood of obtaining a conviction.
Result: Upon considering Mr. Johnson's representations, Crown counsel concluded that there was no longer a likelihood of conviction. Crown withdrew the charge, bringing the matter to an end. No criminal record.

R. vs. M.B. - Surrey Provincial Court

Charge: Application for firearms prohibition and forfeiture.
Issue: Whether Crown could establish that our client posed a risk to himself or others.
Result: Mid trial, Mr. Mines was able to obtain a successful resolution in which our client consented to an 18 month prohibition rather than the 5 years Crown had been seeking.  Further, rather than having to forfeit the  $15,000 worth of weapons that police seized,  Crown agreed to allow our client to sell them to a suitable buyer.

R. vs. C.B. - Vancouver Police Investigation

Charge: Possession of proceeds of crime.
Issue: Whether there was any lawful authority to arrest our client and seize funds from him.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade the investigating officer that there was no basis to search our client and to return the $2400 cash that he had seized. No charges approved. Not 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.