How do I prove that I did not steal anything?

Dear Sir/Madam,

My GF and I are an international IT professional and we were accused of shoplifting when we were shopping at ICA. My GF put many items in the baby pram and when I went to pay the bill at checkstand, we were confronted that we missed paying many things, which included lots of items which cost around 1100SEK. However, while I asked my GF she said, she was depressed and did this to come out of it (apparently one of the suggested things on internet). We both have a stable job and earn about 30K each and this is our first time ever we are being guilty. Post this, the ICA staff called the police and we agreed to the theft but said it was my GF who did and I had no clue until it was confronted. Now, the court has categorized it under "Målet gäller: ringa stöld" and sent us both are guilty based on couple video footage and our hearing is in Jan. So my question is, We don't want to drag it further, as we are guilty. How much of fine can we expect? We have not requested for public defender, but how do i prove the court that i didn't steal anything but only my GF? Will this anyway affect our residence permit? Please advise!

Lawline svarar

Hi and thank you for choosing lawline for your question!

I divided your questions to make the text as understandable as possible.

How do I prove to the court that I didn't steal anything?
It is my understanding that you are being tried for "ringastöld" which in English is called petty theft. Rules on petty theft can be found in Chapter 8. Section 2 of the Criminal Code (1962: 700), also called Brottsbalken in Swedish (I will refer to it as BrB in the rest of the text). It is stated that if theft pursuant to section 1 of the same chapter with regard to the value of the object seized and other circumstances of the crime is to be regarded as minor, the perpetrator shall be convicted for petty theft. Section 1 (theft) states the following: Anyone who illegally takes what belongs to another with the intention of acquiring it, shall be sentenced, if the assault entails damage, for theft. Based on these, a number of props can be listed:

(1)It must be an illegal (olovligt tagande) take. As for theft from grocery stores, the completion point depends on how the store is designed. The entire item must have crossed what is considered as the store's exit, which most of the time is equated with where the conveyor belt at the checkout ends. With regards to the information above, this prop is fulfilled when you and your girlfriend (regardless of your intentions) put the unpaid goods in the baby´s pram and walked past the cash register.

(2)The thing must have belonged to someone else (tillhöra annan). In your case, the items belong to ICA.

(3)The act must have caused (financial) damage (skada) to the business.

(4)You must have had a special intention to acquire (uppsåt) the stolen goods, so-called appropriation intent (tillägnelseuppsåt). This means that at the time of the acquisition you intended to use the stolen goods yourself, for example by consuming or reselling them. This prop can be used to show your innocence. As I understand it, you didn't know that your girlfriend stole the items and could in no way have the intention to then keep them for yourself.

All these props have to be fulfilled for you to be guilty of this charge. It appears that you did not intend to actually take the goods at all (see Chapter 1, Section 2 of the Criminal Code, which is a general requirement of intent for each prop). It is also important to note that this examination will be made individually for you and your girlfriend.

However, it is the prosecutor who bears the burden of proving that a crime has been committed (it is called bevisbörda). So, you don't have to prove your innocence, he/she has to prove that you are guilty. From the information above, it seems that the probability of you being convicted for petty theft is small, especially if everything has been recorded on the surveillance cameras. They can probably see that your girlfriend put the items in the baby´s pram and not you and this will make it hard for the prosecutor to prove your guilt. The fact that you paid for the items that you had can play in your favor.

In criminal cases, a very high standard of proof is required to convict someone; it must "be beyond reasonable doubt" ("utom rimlig tvivel") that you have committed the crime. This means that the court must be absolutely certain that a crime has been committed by you in order for you to be convicted.

How much of a fine can we expect?
The penalty for petty theft is a fine or imprisonment for a maximum of six months, but a prison sentence can definitely be ruled out in your case. You can either get a fine or a daily fine. A fine means that you must pay a fixed amount between SEK 200 and 4,000 (Chapter 25, Section 3 BrB). A daily fine means that you receive a certain number of daily fines between 30 and 150, all of which have a certain value between SEK 50 and 1,000, which is determined by your income and personal circumstances (Chapter 25, Section 2 BrB). For example, if you receive a 30-day fine of SEK 50, you must pay 30 x 50 = SEK 1,500 in total.

The number is determined by a court, or in some cases the prosecutor, and is preceded by a sentence where he/she determines what penalty value your act should have. How the crime took place and your personal circumstances are taken into considerations. In Chapter 29 BrB you can find what generally works in a mitigating or aggravating direction.

The assessment is very individual so I cannot give an exact amount for your case.

Will this anyway affect our residence permit?

The relevant acts, in this case, are the Aliens Act, Chapter 5, and the Act on Temporary Restrictions on the Possibility of Obtaining a Residence Permit in Sweden (will be referred to as the Temporary Act below).

In order for a residence permit to be refused, the crime committed - which in this case is petty theft, must constitute a threat to public order and security. The residence permit will be refused if you have committed a crime or a crime in connection with other negligence (Section 17 of the Temporary Act). In order for you to be able to obtain a Swedish citizenship, you must have lived an honest and caring life. The Swedish Migration Agency looks at both how you have behaved so far and how we think you will behave in the future. The Swedish Migration Agency's website states that you will receive a waiting period for a residence permit if you have committed a crime. Depending on what your penalty will be, the waiting time varies. If, for example, there is a 50-day fine, there will be a waiting period of 1.5 years before you are granted a residence permit.

When it comes to a residence permits that you already have (if that is the case), revocation is what that is closest at hand. A permanent residence permit can be revoked for a foreigner if he/she is no longer resident in Sweden (Chapter 7, Section 7 of the Aliens Act).

A permanent residence permit can also be revoked for a foreigner who has deliberately provided incorrect information or has deliberately concealed circumstances that were important for obtaining the permit (Chapter 7, Section 1 of the Aliens Act). What matters then is what the person has stated for the Swedish Migration agency in their application. The residence permit can then be revoked if the incorrect information or concealment has been significant for the granted permit. If the person has been in this country for more than four years, the residence permit may be revoked only if there are special reasons (so called synnerliga skäl). Such reasons may exist if the person has in fact been outside the country for a large period of the time and has a weak connection to the country. Another reason may be that the person also has a residence permit in another country and that enforcement can take place in that country.

A permanent residence permit can also be revoked if the person is convicted of a serious crime. If the person is sentenced to deportation, the residence permit is revoked, even if the person has had it for several years. In order to risk deportation, it is required that the person commits a serious crime that can lead to imprisonment (Chapter 8 a, Section 1 of the Aliens Act). This is not applicable in your case as petty theft is not so serious.

It is also good to know that your name is recorded in the debit register for five years, but it disappears after the five years (Section 3; 17, ninth paragraph, Act on debit registers).

We are guilty, we do not want to drag this further. How do we proceed?
In some cases, there is a possibility of a criminal injunction (strafföreläggande) instead of a judgment in a district court.

However, the imposition of a sentence will NOT be relevant if the prosecutor has already decided to press charges. In the information above, you have written that the prosecutor has already pressed charges, and if this is true, then there is unfortunately no possibility of a criminal injunction. By then, the prosecutor has already decided to prosecute, and what then remains is a trial.

If the prosecution has not been prosecuted, there is still a possibility for the prosecutor to decide on a criminal injunction. An injunction is thus not something that you can request yourself, but it must be decided by the prosecutor (Chapter 48, Section 1 Code of Judicial Procedure, rättegångsbalken (RB)).

A criminal injunction means that the suspect is given an opportunity to sign that he is guilty of the crime and that he approves a sentence specified by the prosecutor. It is the prosecutor who decides how long it takes to approve a criminal injunction (Chapter 48, Section 2 RB).

If the prosecutor decides on a criminal injunction, this will be sent to your home in a letter. It is then important to answer and sign this if you want to approve the penalty order (Chapter 48, Section 9 RB). If you do not respond to the letter, the prosecutor can press charges.

In conclusion, the prosecutor has to prove that you had the intention to keep the goods to yourself for you to be guilty of this crime. How much fine you can expect is a bit harder to determine as it is very personal and depends on different things. Lastly, if you already have a resident permit, it will not be affected. If charges are already pressed, it is unfortunately not possible for you to make the process faster other than contributing to the investigation.

I hope this helps! Feel free to ask more questions if you have any or if your questions weren't answered clearly.

With regards,

Marlene ZouzouhoRådgivare
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