Over the years I have defended thousands of clients charged with shoplifting/theft under, and other similar charges such as fraud.
I can often negotiate to have shoplifting charges withdrawn as a result of my client participating in a diversion program, which might involve things like counselling, restitution, community service, or a donation to charity.
Clients who shoplift and suffer from a related mental health issue might be eligible for a mental health diversion program if they are interested in getting assistance with their mental health.
The Court Addiction program (SURCH: Substance Use Related Crime Hamilton) might be an alternative for a client who steals to support an addiction and who is motivated to take steps to address their addiction. Upon successful completion, charges may be withdrawn thereby avoiding a criminal record, or in some cases, the benefit might be avoiding a jail sentence.
The “Atypical Shoplifter”
I represent many people (usually women) charged with shoplifting, who are otherwise law-abiding, honest, and ethical individuals. These clients are often dealing with difficult issues in their lives, such as depression, symptoms of menopause, self esteem issues, histories of trauma and abuse, or loneliness.
When these clients call me, they are usually ashamed, embarrassed, and afraid. They often say that they do not recall the act of shoplifting.
These clients need help dealing with the underlying psychological causes of their shoplifting. I can usually help understand the problem, and make referrals, if requested, for specialized counselling designed to help stop the cycle.
As always, getting help for the underlying problem often allows me to negotiate the charges to be withdrawn, or my client to receive an unusually favourable outcome.
Often, I am able to arrange for my client’s shoplifting charge to be withdrawn without her ever experiencing the stress and embarrassment of personally attending court. Even when there are deeper underlying issues, it may be possible to negotiate that a client will get their charge withdrawn based on a simple donation to charity through the Direct Accountability/Diversion Program. The client can then follow up on suggestions and referrals I may make, if they wish, at the right time for them.