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Theft Act 1968

The Theft Act 1968 defines and governs various offences related to theft and dishonesty in England and Wales. It provides a legal framework for prosecuting and addressing crimes involving theft, robbery, burglary, handling stolen goods, fraud, and related offences. The Act outlines specific definitions, elements, and penalties for these offences.


Sections 16: Theft

Section 1 defines the offence of theft. It states that a person is guilty of theft if they dishonestly appropriate property belonging to another with the intention to permanently deprive the owner of it. This section outlines the basic elements of theft, including dishonesty, appropriation, property, belonging to another, and the intention to permanently deprive. It provides that "steal" is construed in the way as "theft".


Section 8: Robbery

Section 8 defines the offence of robbery, as we discussed earlier. It states that a person is guilty of robbery if, while stealing property, he uses force on any person or put or seek to put any person in fear of being subjected to force. Robbery combines theft with the use of force or threat of force against a person.


Section 9: Burglary

Section 9 covers the offence of burglary. It states that a person is guilty of burglary if he enters any building or part of a building as a trespasser with the intent to commit theft, cause grievous bodily harm, or do unlawful damage. This section addresses offences involving unlawful entry into a building with specific criminal intentions.


Section 15: Obtaining Property by Deception

Section 15 addresses the offence of obtaining property by deception. It should be noted this section has been repealed and replaced by the more general offence of fraud under the Fraud Act 2006.


Section 21: Blackmail

Section 21 establishes the offence of blackmail which an indictable offence that is tried in the Crown Court. The maximum sentence for blackmail under this section is fourteen years. Blackmail typically involves making threats or demands with the intention of obtaining money, property, or some other benefit from another person, while also threatening to reveal embarrassing, disgraceful, or damaging information about them.


Section 22: Handling Stolen Goods

Section 22 deals with the indictable offence of handling stolen goods which refers to the act of receiving, possessing, or disposing of property that has been obtained through theft or another criminal activity. This offence carries a maximum penalty of fourteen years' imprisonment.


The Theft Act 1968 sections provide a framework for defining and prosecuting various offences related to theft, dishonesty, and related crimes. It establishes the elements, requirements, and penalties for each offence, enabling the legal system to address and deter such conduct effectively.


You can learn more about this topic and relevant case law with our Criminal Law notes.

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