Common Criminal Offences

THEFT ACT OFFENCES

 

Theft.

s.1 Theft Act 1968

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 'thief' and 'steal' shall be construed accordingly.

It is immaterial whether the appropriation is made with a view to gain, or is made for the thief's own benefit.

A person guilty of theft shall on conviction on indictment be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.

 

Robbery.

s.8 Theft Act 1968 

A person is guilty of robbery if he steals, and immediately before or at the time of doing so, and in order to do so, he uses force on any person or puts or seeks to put any person in fear of being then and there subjected to force.

A person guilty of robbery, or of an assault with intent to rob, shall on conviction on indictment be liable to imprisonment for life.

 

Burglary.

s.9 Theft Act 1968

(1) A person is guilty of burglary if-

(a) he enters any building or part of a building as a trespasser and with intent to commit any such offence as is mentioned in subsection (2) below; or

(b) having entered any building or part of a building as a trespasser he steals or attempts to steal anything in the building or that part of it or inflicts or attempts to inflict on any person therein any grievous bodily harm.

(2) The offences referred to in subsection (1)(a) above are offences of stealing anything in the building or part of a building in question, of inflicting on any person therein any grievous bodily harm or raping any woman therein, and of doing unlawful damage to the building or anything therein.

(3) References in subsections (1) and (2) above to a building shall apply also to an inhabited vehicle or vessel, and shall apply to any such vehicle or vessel at times when the person having a habitation in it is not there as well as at times when he is.

(4) A person guilty of burglary shall on conviction on indictment be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

 

Taking motor vehicle or other conveyance without authority.

s12 Theft Act 1968

12.-(1) Subject to subsections (5) and (6) below, a person shall be guilty of an offence if, without having the consent of the owner or other lawful authority, he takes any conveyance for his own or another's use or, knowing that any conveyance has been taken without such authority, drives it or allows himself to be carried in or on it.

(2) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) above shall on conviction on indictment be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.

(3) Offences under subsection (1) above and attempts to commit them shall be deemed for all purposes to be arrestable offences within the meaning of section 2 of the Criminal Law Act 1967. (1967 c. 58.)

(4) If on the trial of an indictment for theft the jury are not satisfied that the accused committed theft, but it is proved that the accused committed an offence under subsection (1) above, the jury may find him guilty of the offence under subsection (1).

(5) Subsection (1) above shall not apply in relation to pedal cycles; but, subject to subsection (6) below, a person who, without having the consent of the owner or other lawful authority, takes a pedal cycle for his own or another's use, or rides a pedal cycle knowing it to have been taken without such authority, shall on summary conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds.

(6) A person does not commit an offence under this section by anything done in the belief that he has lawful authority to do it or that he would have the owner's consent if the owner knew of his doing it and the circumstances of it.

(7) For purposes of this section—

(a) "conveyance" means any conveyance constructed or adapted for the carriage of a person or persons whether by land, water or air, except that it does not include a conveyance constructed or adapted for use only under the control of a person not carried in or on it, and "drive" shall be construed accordingly; and

(b) "owner", in relation to a conveyance which is the subject of a hiring agreement or hire-purchase agreement, means the person in possession of the conveyance under that agreement.

 

Handling Stolen Goods

s22 Theft Act 1968

A person handles stolen goods if knowing or believing them to be stolen goods he dishonestly receives the goods or dishonestly undertakes or assists in their retention, removal, disposal or realisation by or for the benefit of another person, or if he arranges to do so.

Note: carries 14 years maximum sentence, the maximum is greater than that for 'theft' reflecting an argument that if there were not those who would 'handle' stolen goods, people would not steal them!

22(1) A person handles stolen goods if (otherwise than in the course of the

stealing) knowing or believing them to be stolen goods he -

(1) dishonestly receives the goods;

OR

(ii) dishonestly undertakes their retention, removal, disposal, or realisation by or for the benefit of another person;

OR

(iii) dishonestly assists in their retention, removal, disposal, or realisation by or for the benefit of another person;

OR

(iv) arranges to do (i), (ii) or (iii) above

You will see from the above that for the offence to be made out the retention, removal, disposal or realisation must be for the benefit of another person. The case of R v Bloxham is authority for the proposition that an a purchaser of goods cannot be classed as “another person” for the purposes of this section.

 

Fraud 

s.1 Fraud Act 2006 

(a) Fraud by false representation - s 1(2)(a)
 
This is where a person dishonestly makes a false representation, and intends, by making the representation –
(i) to make a gain for himself or another, or
(ii) to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss. 
 
(b) Fraud by failing to disclose information - s 1(2)(b)
 
This is where a person dishonestly fails to disclose to another person information which he is under a legal duty to disclose, and intends, by failing to disclose that information -
(i) to make a gain for himself or another, or
(ii) to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss. 
 
(c) Fraud by abuse of position - s 1(2)(c)
 
This is where a person  Occupies a position in which he is expected to safeguard, or not to act against, the financial interests of another person, dishonestly abuses that position, and intends, by means of the abuse of that position -
(i) to make a gain for himself or another, or
(ii) to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.
 
 
Under this Act there are also offences of Obtaining Services by Deception, Possession of Articles for Use in Fraud; and Making, Adapting or Supplying Articles for Use in Fraud.
 
Depending on the seriousness, all these charges can be heard in the Magistrates' Court or the Crown Court.

Maximum penalty in the Magistrates' Court– Fine level 5 and 12 months (currently limited to six months for one offence ).

Maximum penalty in the  Crown Court – 10 years and unlimited fine.

 

 

OFFENCES AGAINST THE PERSON (ASSAULTS)

 

Wounding/causing grievous bodily harm with intent

Section 18 Offences Against The Person Act 1861

The offence is committed when a person unlawfully and maliciously, with intent to do some grievous bodily harm, or with intent to resist or prevent the lawful apprehension or detainer of any other person, either:

  • wounds another person; or
  • causes grievous bodily harm to another person.

It is an indictable only offence, which carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for life.

For the definition of wounding and grievous bodily harm, see: Unlawful Wounding/Inflicting Grievous Bodily Harm

 

Unlawful wounding/inflicting grievous bodily harm

Section 20 of the Offences Against The Person Act 1861.

The offence is committed when a person unlawfully and maliciously, either:

  • wounds another person; or
  • inflicts grievous bodily harm upon another person.

It is an either way offence, which carries a maximum penalty on indictment of five years' imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. Summarily, the maximum penalty is six months' imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.

Wounding means the breaking of the continuity of the whole of the outer skin, or the inner skin within the cheek or lip. It does not include the rupturing of internal blood vessels. (Archbold 19-212).

The definition of wounding may encompass injuries that are relatively minor in nature, for example a small cut or laceration. An assault resulting in such minor injuries should more appropriately be charged contrary to section 47. An offence contrary to section 20 should be reserved for those wounds considered to be serious (thus equating the offence with the infliction of grievous or serious, bodily harm under the other part of the section).

Grievous bodily harm means serious bodily harm. (Archbold 19-206). It is for the jury to decide whether the harm is serious. However, examples of what would usually amount to serious harm include:

  • injury resulting in permanent disability or permanent loss of sensory function;
  • injury which results in more than minor permanent, visible disfigurement; broken or displaced limbs or bones, including fractured skull;
  • compound fractures, broken cheek bone, jaw, ribs, etc;
  • injuries which cause substantial loss of blood, usually necessitating a transfusion;
  • injuries resulting in lengthy treatment or incapacity;
  • psychiatric injury. As with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, appropriate expert evidence is essential to prove the injury.
 
Assault occasioning actual bodily harm
Section 47 Offences Against the Person Act 1861

The offence of section 47 Assault occasioning actual bodily harm is committed when a person assaults another, thereby causing actual bodily harm. Bodily harm has its ordinary meaning and includes any hurt calculated to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim: such hurt need not be permanent, but must be more than transient and trifling: (R v Donovan 25 Cr. App. Rep. 1, CCA). It is an either way offence, which carries a maximum penalty on indictment of five years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine not exceeding the statutory maximum

A verdict of assault occasioning actual bodily harm may be returned on proof of an assault together with proof of the fact that actual bodily harm was occasioned (caused) by the assault. The prosecution are not obliged to prove that the defendant intended to cause some actual bodily harm or was reckless as to whether harm would be caused. See: R v Savage; R v Parmenter [1991 4 All ER 698.

 

 

Common Assault

 

In criminal law, the term "common assault" covers two separate offences "assault" and "battery" which were formerly contrary to Common Law but are now said to be statutory offences contrary to section 39 Criminal Justice Act 1988: an "assault" is any act by by which a person intentionally or recklessly causes another to apprehend immediate unlawful violence; a "battery" is any act by which a person intentionally or recklessly applies unlawful force to another. The term “assault” is sometimes used e.g. in section 47 Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (Assault occasioning actual bodily harm). Common assault is usually a summary offence but under section 40 Criminal Justice Act 1988 it can be included as an additional charge on an indictment.

 

 

 

 

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