Someone took my bank card while at a party. Somehow he got my PIN number and took $400 from my account. I filed a complaint with the local police. They asked me if I wanted to charge him. (Of course I would.)

But talking with the local police they made it sound like I needed a lawyer. Why might I need a lawyer in a scenario like this? Doesn't the state/prosecutor pursue criminal charges?

3 Answers 3


My best guess would be that they're recommending that you get a lawyer if you're trying to get your money back from the thief. A criminal prosecution may not be able to do that.

  • 2
    I don't know about Canada, but in the US that amount of money would normally be sued for in Small Claims court, where a lawyer is not normally necessary. Where I am, the lawyer would likely cost more than the $400. The police probably advise a lawyer since they're not going to explain the process. Nov 5, 2018 at 18:13


Let's see. We have an offender, who committed some form of fraud against the bank (he used your card and Pin to identify as you to get access) to yours and the bank's damage (he was not allowed to take the money).

Now, there are two ways the offender can be tried for:

  • As you are harmed, you can sue for damages, as could the bank, but for them you are liable for he got your pin to identify as you, so... you can sue him for damages. That is a civil court case. As there is only a small sum involved you don't necessarily need a lawyer, as wouldn't the offender, but it can greatly boost chances. Now, you did report the crime which leads to the other way:
  • The district/state attorney has the duty to have police investigate your report, and then may decide to press charges in criminal court. If he pereses the charges and court finds him guilty, he doesn't necessarily has to pay your damages yet, it might make the bank cover for your losses even.

Let's assume this: you filed the civil case, the criminal gets pressed. Now, the civil case will be handled in a manner that is detailed somewhere in the laws - but I have no idea here to look. In general, there are two outcomes:

  • it might either get merged into the other case (adding the damages to the portfolio of things he can be convicted to)
  • or it might be put on hold for while the criminal case runs. Then the result from the criminal case gets used to hasten the civil case, deciding on the proper damages awarded to you.

In either case, contacting a lawyer is a wise thing: getting a professional to explain you the full procedure might cost you, but the lawyer knows your laws much better than you or me. I am not a lawyer after all, and not in canada.


If the person steal things from u it’s not fall in the definition of theft it’s consider extortion or robbery and it will be better if u follow a counsel that is necessary to help u in recovery of your things and he/she is also able to understand the laws complexity.

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