Theft

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Theft
  • The offence of theft and mode of trial
  • Theft from spouse or civil partner
  • The elements of the theft offence
  • Dishonesty as an element of theft
  • How does a bench or jury assess dishonesty in theft cases?
  • Appropriation as an element of theft
  • Gifts
  • Appropriation as a continuing act
  • Property for the purposes of theft offences
  • More...

Theft

The offence of theft and mode of trial

Theft is an either way offence; it can be tried in the magistrates' court or the Crown Court. Note, however, that low-level shoplifting within the meaning of section 22A of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 (where the value of the stolen goods does not exceed £200) is triable only summarily.

Theft from spouse or civil partner

Where the offence involves theft of property from an accused's spouse or civil partner, the Theft Act 1968 (TA 1968) stipulates proceedings cannot be commenced without the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions (the DPP).

The statutory restriction does not apply to a co-defendant who has been jointly charged with a defendant or where the defendant and his spouse have separated by judicial decree or order.

The elements of the theft offence

Theft consists of five elements. The prosecution must prove each one beyond reasonable doubt.

The five elements are:

  1. dishonest

  2. appropriation

  3. of property

  4. belonging to another

  5. with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it

Dishonesty as an element of theft

Dishonesty is partially (but not fully) defined in TA 1968, s 2.

Under the TA 1968, an accused is not dishonest if they fall within any of the categories set out in the Act. These are:

  1. if they believe they have in law the right to deprive the victim of it

  2. if they believe the victim would

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