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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. v. S.C. – Vancouver Police Investigation

Charge: Assault.
Issue: Whether there was credible evidence that would meet the charge approval standard.
Result: Mr. Gauthier provided information to the investigating officer that led the investigator to conclude that our client was not chargeable with a criminal offence. No charge approved. No criminal record.

R. vs. C.K. – Richmond Provincial Court

Charges: Assault; Forcible Confinement (domestic).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our through, whether it was in the public interest for our client to be sentenced to a criminal record.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade Crown to proceed only on the assault charge and, after hearing Mr. Gauthier's submissions, the Court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

R.M. vs. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles

Charge: 90 Day Immediate Roadside prohibition.
Issue: Whether the police report established, on balance, that our client had refused to provide a breath sample during a roadside impaired driving investigation.
Result: The adjudicator agreed with Mr. Mines' submissions that our client's evidence was more reliable than the evidence set out in the Police Report to the Superintendent. The 90 day driving prohibition was overturned and our client was ruled eligible to resume driving.

R. vs. E.W. – Fort Nelson Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a criminal conviction.
Result: Upon reviewing the allegations, Mr. Mines made representations to Crown counsel resulting in Crown agreeing that there was no reasonable prospect of convicting our client. No charges were approved. No criminal record.

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

Charges: Assault Peace Officer; Mischief Under $5000.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with criminal charges.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to  persuade Crown counsel to allow our client into the Alternative Measures Program and to enter a stay of proceedings on both charges upon our client completing the program. No criminal record.

R. vs. R.S. – Richmond Provincial Court

Charge: Breach of Probation (from weapons charge).
Issue: Whether there was a public interest in proceeding with the prosecution of our client who had failed to complete a course of court ordered counselling.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to steer our client through an equivalent course of counselling. Upon completion, Crown counsel stayed the proceedings. No criminal record.

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

Charge: Mischief Causing Danger to Life.
Issue: Given the medical evidence Mr. Gauthier provided to Crown counsel, whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the criminal prosecution.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings. No criminal record.

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

Charges: Breaking & Entering; Unlawful Confinement; Assault.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for the prosecution to continue against our client, a U.S. citizen who was in Canada on a visitor's visa.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings on all charges upon our client agreeing to a Deportation Order. No criminal record.

R. vs. P.N. – Surrey Provincial Court

Charge: Dangerous Driving Causing Death. Issue: Whether Crown could prove that our client had the necessary intent to prove that she was guilty of the criminal charge. Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to proceed under the Motor Vehicle Act rather than the Criminal Code. After hearing Mr. Mines'  submissions, the Court sentenced our client to 60 days to be served on weekends. The Crown had originally sought a sentence in the range of 2 years.

R. vs. L.A. – New Westminster Provincial Court

Charge: Breach of Probation (from domestic assault charge).
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to prosecute our client for failing to report and complete counselling.
Result: Mr. Gauthier was able to guide our client back onto an alternative course of rehabilitation and persuaded Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. M.K. – Richmond Provincial Court

Charges: Uttering Threats; Extortion.
Issue: Given the age of the charges and the rehabilitative steps our client had taken, whether a jail sentence was appropriate.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to persuade Crown counsel to seek a non custodial sentence. After hearing Mr. Mines' submissions, the Court granted our client a suspended sentence and placed him on probation for 16 months. No jail.

R. vs. K.A. – Western Communities Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (domestic).
Issues: Given the information we provided to Crown counsel regarding the complainant's past unlawful behaviour toward our client, whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction.
Result: As a result of the information we provided, Crown counsel withdrew the charge. No further bail restrictions. 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.