Fraud and theft are two crimes that are often confused because of how much they have in common. Both crimes involve taking property that does not belong to you and can result in jail time, heavy fines, and a permanent criminal record.
Although both crimes are similar in their intent, their differences are what will determine the penalty given for each. Understanding the difference between theft and fraud is beneficial for those facing criminal charges in order to ensure the best outcome in trial.
Here’s everything you need to know about the difference between theft and fraud.
What to Do If You’ve Been Charged with Theft or Fraud
The most important thing to note is that if you’ve been charged with any crime, the first thing you should do is hire a criminal defence lawyer. Criminal law firms in Toronto suggest hiring a lawyer before speaking to the police as the early parts of a police investigation are crucial.
Even if there is concrete evidence stacked against you, criminal lawyers know how to navigate the legal system and will be able to ensure you are given a fair sentence.
Especially in cases of theft or fraud when the intricacies of both crimes are so intertwined, having a lawyer on your side who understands the differences of each crime will significantly benefit the outcome of your case.
What is Theft?
Theft is when someone takes something from someone else without their permission. Most of the time, people will automatically know if they have been the victim of theft because they will be missing property, goods, or money.
Examples of theft include:
- Shoplifting: stealing property or money from a store.
- Robbery: taking property or money from an individual.
- Mugging: attacking and robbing someone in public.
- Grand theft auto: stealing someone’s car.
To be convicted of theft, the accused must have intended to take property they knew belonged to someone else and have successfully done so. The monetary value of what was stolen is an important factor in determining the punishment for theft. Thefts of goods with larger values will result in harsher and more severe sentencing.
What is Fraud?
Fraud is generally a bit more secretive than theft and is often harder to detect. Deceit and deception play a significant role in committing fraud as the offender will often try to ensure their crime goes undetected for as long as possible. This is the primary difference between theft and fraud.
Examples of fraud include:
- Tax evasion: not paying or underpaying taxes.
- Credit card fraud: using someone else’s credit card.
- Mail fraud: committing any fraud through the mail.
- Identity fraud: using someone else’s name and information to benefit oneself.
- Voter fraud: tampering in any way with an election.
To be convicted of fraud, the accused must have intended to commit the crime and have successfully taken another person’s property. Like with theft, the monetary value of what was stolen will impact how your case plays out in court. Fraud that involves the workplace or government will result in more extreme sentencing.