Theaft Control

Theft Offences

Theft offences are relatively common, and the concept of theft is an element of other offences such as robbery, stealing and burglary, which are covered by the Theft Act 1968.

If you have been charged, or think you are likely to be arrested for theft you may be wondering what happens next and who can help you. Theft is a criminal offence and can result in a criminal conviction and record, but an experienced defence solicitor will be able to support you at this stressful time. We are experienced criminal solicitors and competent in handling theft cases and preparing a defence to help you get the best possible outcome in your situation.

What are the theft offences?

Theft is a crime concerned with deliberately taking property that belongs to someone else. It does not include the use of force, so a street mugging involving real or threatened force will be considered a robbery rather than a theft offence. A break-in will be considered a burglary.

For theft offences, the prosecution will need to prove that the defendant dishonestly appropriated the property, with the intention of permanently depriving the owner. Common examples include shoplifting or stealing a car, but theft can also refer to appropriating wild plants or animals, or intangible assets such as a credit in a bank account.

Accusations of theft are heard in the Magistrates Court if the theft is considered a petty misdemeanour or otherwise in the Crown Court if it concerns more organised crime or one with a higher value. The maximum sentence in the Magistrates Court is six months imprisonment, while the Crown Court can impose up to seven years in prison. If it is a first offence you may be given a lesser sentence. However, there are ways of avoiding court altogether and many theft offences are dealt with by a Community Order or Suspended Sentence.

What is dishonesty and how can it be proved?

In order for you to be found guilty of theft, the prosecution needs to show that you dishonestly appropriated property belong to another person with the intention of permanently depriving the owner. So, if you have inadvertently taken something or are in possession of something by accident you cannot be found guilty of theft. Dishonesty covers making false representations, fraud, handling stolen goods and other offences. Dishonesty is not defined in the relevant legislation, but the prosecution needs to prove that the defendant’s conduct deliberately fell short of the standards of ordinary reasonable people. It will very much depend on the defendant’s knowledge or belief at the time.

What evidence is needed?

Some theft cases are straightforward, but others will involve long police investigations. It is likely the prosecution will want to prove its case with CCTV footage or forensic evidence and may request mobile phone or computer data and use expert evidence or reports on any alleged weapons used.

You will be interviewed by the police before being charged with any crime. What you say can be used later as evidence in the case, so it is advisable to insist on a criminal lawyer being present at this time.

If you are accused of a criminal offence, you need a criminal defence solicitor who will represent you throughout the criminal justice process, as well as in court. We represent clients in court in Merseyside, Lancashire and Cheshire as a matter of routine and also have a national presence allowing us to operate in courts throughout England and Wales.

If you need help, contact [email protected] or call 0151 239 1020 for expert legal advice.