Fraud/Theft Charges

Calgary Criminal Defence Practices

Have you been charged with a fraud or theft?

Our office is extremely well versed in the defence of theft and fraud prosecutions

Batting, Wyman Barristers are among the top Calgary Theft/Fraud Lawyers, with over 25 years experience successfully defending clients charged with a variety of theft/fraud related offences. Our firm serves clients in Calgary as well as surrounding areas such as Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks, Didsbury, Turner Valley, Strathmore and Canmore. Choosing us means you receive the strongest representation you need to present a solid defence in your case.

While they differ in the elements to be proven, theft and fraud charges are crimes of dishonesty. In the context of the Criminal Code, theft requires that there be a deprivation of one’s property. The deprivation can relate to property or a quantum of funds. A fraud charge is more abstract. The subject matter will vary but the offence requires an act of dishonesty that results in some form of a monetary gain.

How We Can Help You With Theft/Fraud Charges

Both charges vary in seriousness depending upon the amount taken, the relationship with the victim of the theft, and the existence of a prior criminal record. In cases where the monetary loss is considerable, Alberta Justice’s Economic Crimes Unit will take conduct of the Prosecution. These types of offences are unique in that they are deemed by the U.S. government to be crimes of moral turpitude. As such, a conviction will result in difficulties at the border.
Our office routinely represents individuals charged with any theft offence stemming from an employer/employee relationship. Such files are viewed quite differently as the Courts construe these as being a “breach of trust” and involve consequences that are far more severe. In the context of a trust theft offence, the Crown will routinely seek incarceration, notwithstanding the accused’s absence of a criminal record.
Be it a shoplifting charge or a multi-million dollar ponzi-scheme, our office’s theft lawyers will ensure that you receive the highest calibre of criminal representation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a theft and a fraud?

  • Theft and fraud charges and crimes of dishonesty which possess similar elements but differ in law. The offence of theft involves an individual being deprived from their property. Thefts will vary from shoplifting to the theft of property or funds. Conversely, a fraud is a somewhat vaguer concept and requires an act of dishonesty that results in a benefit, usually financially, to the accused. Frauds will range from switching price tags in a department to multi million dollar ponzi schemes. For the most part, the punishments for the offences are the same as they will depend on the existence of a record, whether a breach of trust is involved, the sophistication and frequency of the act, as well as the quantum of loss involved.

What is a breach of trust?

  • Should the crime of dishonesty involve a breach of trust, it is viewed more seriously by the criminal justice system. A breach of trust is difficult to define but will typically involve an individual taking advantage of someone with whom a pre-existing relationship of trust exists. The most common example is where an employee has financially benefited from their employer through some act of dishonesty. Other examples include clients that have obtained a financial benefit from family or close friends. Such offences are treated more seriously as the accused has breached the trust that had been previously built up with the victim. In law, a breach of trust constitutes a statutory aggravating feature in the event a conviction results. Further, the Alberta Court of Appeal has routinely stated that offences involving a breach of trust ought result in a jail sentence, even for first time offenders.

What are the penalties for a theft/fraud conviction?

  • If convicted of a theft or fraud related offence, the punishment will vary depending upon the criminal record of the accused, their relationship to the victim and the quantum of loss. An accused who has committed a low end theft and who possesses no criminal record can at times be diverted to the Alternative Measures Program where they complete community service hours or make a charitable donation in order to have their criminal charges withdrawn. More serious offences will involve fines, probation or incarceration. Should the charges involve a breach of trust, the Crown will be expected to ask for a jail sentence as this constitutes a statutorily aggravating feature. At times, a Conditional Sentence Order (CSO) may be imposed. A CSO is a sentencing mechanism where the court imposes a jail sentence but permits the client to serve the sentence in the community. A CSO is a permissible sanction where:
    1. the sentence is less than 2 years;
    2. the offence is statutorily eligible;
    3. the maximum punishment is less than 14 years;
    4. the individual would not pose a danger to society;
    5. the sentence would be consistent with the fundamental principles of sentencing. It should be noted that the offences of theft and fraud over $5,000 are statutorily barred from consideration for a CSO.

Will a theft/fraud conviction affect my ability to travel?

  • A criminal record can serve as an impediment for international travel. One of the most common concerns for clients is entry into the United States. Border officers will routinely deny entry into the U.S. should the individual have a criminal record for a crime of moral turpitude. Both theft and fraud convictions fall under this category of offences. As such, an individual convicted of such a charge will often have to seek a waiver in order to enter the United States. This requires that the individual submit an application to the U.S. government seeking entry at a later date. After being authorized, the waiver permits entry for the applicant during a specified period of time. Once the waiver has expired then a subsequent application is required for entry into the United States.