Unit 5 Criminal Law 9 (Offences Against Property)

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  • Topic: Theft Act 1968, Theft, Dishonesty
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  • Published : November 28, 2012
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Theft - The Theft offence is defined under S1 of the ‘Theft act 1968’. Where it provides that if ‘A person dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another, with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it,’ will be guilty of the offence. For this charge to be upheld, both the actus Reus and the mens rea have to be established.

Actus Reus - Beginning with the physical element of the crime, the actus Reus it is made up of 3 elements – ‘appropriates, property, belonging to another.’

Appropriation is defined in S3, ‘Any assumption by a person of the rights of an owner amounts to appropriation.’ This includes coming across the property innocently or not without stealing it and treating the property how the owner would. Examples of this would be using, eating, selling, destroying, lending/hiring the property. The case examples are:

➢ ‘Pitman v Hehl (1977)’ – ‘defendant sold property belonging to another. Offer of sale is an assumption of right. It didn’t matter whether the property was removed or not.

➢ ‘Morris, (1983)’ – At least one assumption of all the rights Switched price labels in shop.

➢ ‘Lawrence (1971)’ – With consent An Italian student paying for taxi ride, £6 instead of 50p.

➢ ‘Gomez’- Lied about cheques so friend could take supplied goods. Dishonestly appropriating goods, induced through fraud, deception or a false representation to consent.

➢ ‘Hinks’ – Consent without deception, got naive friend to put money in account. Said where gifts however also results to appropriation.

Property has been defined under S4; this includes money, real property (buildings and land, personal property, things in action (bank accounts) and other intangible assets. (e.g. Patent)

➢ Kelly and Lindsay (1998) – Taken body parts from the royal college of surgeons to make casts. Normally dead bodies are not property however; belonged to the royal college.

➢ A-G of Hong Kong v Chan Nai-Keung- Stolen quota

➢ Oxford v Moss – Not intangible property , - knowledge of the questions on a exam paper

➢ Wild mushrooms and plants cannot be property unless it is taken for reward or commercial purposes. Not theft if creatures are wild, but theft if they are in captivity or owned.

Belonging to another is defined under S5, ‘property shall be regarded as belonging to any person having possession or control over it, or having in it any proprietary right or interest.’ Therefore prosecution do not have to prove who the legal owner is. ‘Turner (no.2) (1971)’ Stealing own car Garage was in control of the property as he left it with them to make repairs and pay thereafter.

Guilty, when property may not belong to another. (1) Trust property, where trustee steals it (2) Property received under obligation - ‘Hall, (1972)’ – Travel agent, deposits for client tickets. Klineberg and Marsden,’ Obligation to make deposits in a certain way. Timeshare apartments. ‘Davidge V Bunnett’ Money for bill but didn’t. (3)Property received by another’s mistake – ‘A-G Reference (No 1 of 1983) (1985) – Salary overpaid through bank transfer, had an obligation to repay.

Mens Rea - Within the offence of the theft the mental element of the crime the mens rea is the ‘dishonest intention’.

Dishonesty, it has to be proved that they defendant appropriated dishonestly, there is no definition under S2 however it states that it is irrelevant whether it was made with a view of gain or own benefit. Therefore meaning if the other entire elements are present the defendant’s motive is not relevant. S2 provides 3 situations in which the defendant’s behaviour is not dishonest. If a genuine belief in one of the three below not guilty.

A) He has in law the right to deprive the other of it, on behalf of himself of a third person. b) He would have the consent if the other knew of the appropriation and the circumstance of it. c) The person who the property belongs to cannot be discovered by taking...
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