What must have been intended in order to be convicted of theft

Section 1 of the Theft Act 1968

Section 1 of the Theft Act 1968 provides for the criminal offence of theft. Under Section 1(1) of the Act an individual will be guilty of theft if they dishonestly appropriate property belonging to another with the intention to permanently deprive the other of it.

What intention must be found in order for an individual to be convicted of theft?

For an individual to have been convicted of theft the following requirements in relation to the intention of the individual must be established:

Dishonesty

Is there a statutory definition of what is meant by dishonesty?

There is no statutory definition of what is meant by dishonesty. However, Section 2(1) of the Theft Act provides for three instances when a person will not be regarded as dishonest. They are as follows: 

  • If an individual appropriates the property in the belief that he has a legal right to deprive the other of the property, on behalf of himself or of a third person
  • If an individual appropriates the property in the belief that he would have the other person’s consent if the other person knew of the appropriation and the circumstances of it
  • If an individual appropriates the property in the belief that the person to whom the property belongs cannot be discovered by taking reasonable steps

How will these elements be established?

The above three elements will be established using a subjective test, i.e. what the defendants belief actually was. Accordingly there will be no requirement to show that the defendant’s belief is reasonably held.

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For more information on:

  • Who will decide upon whether the defendant has acted dishonesty?
  • Can someone be found to be dishonest even if they had a willingness to pay for the object they have appropriated?
  • Intention to permanently deprive
  • What happens if an individual is simply borrowing the property?
  • What is the maximum sentence an individual can be given for theft?