Theft is an illegal and criminal act that is dealt with in accordance with the Theft Act 1968. It involves taking someone's property without their consent for the sole purpose of personal gain and depriving the other person of said property.

The dishonest possession of someone else's property can involve a person, an employer, or a shop which is also known as shoplifting.

The elements of theft under UK law

In order to prosecute a person for theft, the criminal act must have five necessary elements that classify that act as theft. These include:

DISHONESTY - The first element is dishonesty. That means the person who committed the act used dishonest means-such as false information-or other methods to deprive another person of their personal property.

APPROPRIATION - The second element is the physical possession of someone else's belongings. The accused must have physically taken the property and failed to return it to be convicted of theft.

THE INVOLVEMENT OF PROPERTY - The offence must involve an item that can be categorized as the rightful property of another person and must be distinct from the land.

DISTINCT OWNERSHIP - The property which is under consideration in a theft offence must belong to someone. The victim is required to prove distinct ownership of said property for it to be considered a crime.

THE INTENT - Finally, the victim needs to prove that the accused intended to permanently deprive them of their personal property.

If any of these key elements aren't proven beyond doubt, the case is likely to be dropped before going to court and the defendant can be acquitted of all charges. If the value of the stolen goods is high, the case is often referred to the crown court.

Penalty for theft

The penalty for theft under The Theft Act 1968 can be up to 14 years imprisonment. In some cases, the accused will also be required to pay for damages or compensation to the victim.

Types of theft and dishonesty offences

There are many variations of theft which can all be classified under dishonesty offences. The penalties and the court proceedings for dishonesty offences are usually the same, and the sentencing varies according to the seriousness of the offence and the value of the stolen goods. Dishonesty offences include:

  • All types of deception
  • All types of fraud
  • Theft by finding
  • Theft from a person or shop
  • Robbery
  • Handling stolen goods.
  • House burglary - commercial and residential
  • Being in possession of the criminal property
  • Making off without payment
  • Taking a motor vehicle without consent
  • Theft of or from a motor vehicle
  • Assisting in the retention of stolen goods

Defending against theft charges

Getting accused of theft can be disconcerting and can have severe consequences on your professional and personal lives. The first step when accused of a theft offence is to seek guidance for specialist solicitors who have prior experience dealing with such cases.

At Wembley Solicitors, we have years of experience providing legal representation for theft offences. We serve our clients by helping clarify the charges brought against them, evaluating the evidence and advising them on how to proceed with their defence.

Need legal advice & assistance?

At Wembley Solicitors, we have years of experience providing legal representation for criminal offences and other criminal law related matters.  We're authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), so you know you're in safe hands.

Contact our solicitor today to get legal advice and assistance with your legal matters.

You can call us on 02034173700 or leave your details here for a callback request regarding your legal matter.