Theft, Theft from Shop, Shoplifting, Theft from Person, Pickpocketing, Theft by Finding

The most basic dishonesty offence is theft. It forms the basis of many other offences in this section, such as burglary and going equipped for theft. The offence is defined by section 1 of the Theft Act 1968.

If you are accused of theft, the prosecution must prove that:

  • You dishonestly took property,
  • That property belonged to somebody else, and
  • That you intended that the true owner would never get the property back

It is not necessary for the property to be taken directly from the rightful owner, so if you find an item in the street and take it, that still qualifies as property belonging to somebody else.

At the same time, it is not necessary that you intended to keep the item yourself. If you pass it to someone else, or dispose of it so the original owner can not get it back, that will be enough to satisfy the intention needed for this offence.

Theft is defined as an either way offence. This means that it can be dealt with in either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. The maximum sentence in the Magistrates Court is 6 months imprisonment, while the Crown Court can impose up to 7 years in prison. Despite the potential seriousness of the offence, a prison sentence is not inevitable. Many theft offences can be dealt with by a Community Order or Suspended Sentence.

If you have been accused of theft, it is important that you have expert advice from a specialist criminal defence lawyer. Contact us to see if we can help you find the best criminal solicitor or barrister for your case.