Criminal Law - Introduction to theft

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 19-11-20 15:30
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  • 1. Introduction to theft
    • What could be theft?
      • Subject to defendant's state of mind or mens rea each time, many scenarios could potentially amount to theft.
      • Theft can encompass a wide variety of types of behaviour
    • How does the law define theft?
      • 1(1) of the Theft Act 1958 (TA 1968)
        • Many of its concepts have an impact on other property offences.
        • 'A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates  property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and 'theft' and 'steal' shall be construed accordingly.'
        • 'either way' offence
        • Carries max. penalty of seven years' imprisonment
      • Offence of theft can involve consideration of number of aspects of civil law.
        • e.g. theft usually involves taking something from someone, be it pickpocket taking your wallet/purse from your pocket, shoplifter taking tins of good off supermarket shelf, or art thief taking a valuable oil painting
          • In these situations there is no disputing fact  that thief does not own goods.
      • Sometimes questions of wh owns property and when ownership passed to someone else can be critical
        • Therefore, sometimes civil law needed to explain criminal law
    • Components of Theft
      • Actus reus
        • appropriation, property and belonging to another.
      • Mens rea
        • Dishonesty and intention permanently to deprive
      • When considering liability of theft, it is important to ensure all five elements are present and all present at the same time
        • if one or more is missing offence is not committed
          • e.g. a person who assumes ownership of  a piece of his neighbour's garden is not guilty of theft because land is generally not within definition of property under s 4 of TA 1968
            • As soon as all five elements are present at same time, offence is complete
      • Sections 2 to 6 of TA 1968 gives guidance on interpretation of each element of offence of theft


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