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Critically consider how the courts have applied the meaning of the term dishonesty in theft and related offences.

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Introduction

A2 LAW - THEFT Critically consider how the courts have applied the meaning of the term dishonesty in theft and related offences. Theft is an offence under section 1 of the Theft Act 1968. The Act states "A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving that other from it..." Section 2 of the Theft Act gives three situations in which appropriation of property is not to be regarded as dishonest; they are as follows. Firstly, where the person believes that he has in law the right to deprive the other of it. Secondly, where the person believes that he would have the other's consent if the other knew of the appropriation and the circumstances of it. Thirdly, where the person believes that taking reasonable steps cannot discover the owner of the property. Section 2 of the Act states that a person's appropriation of property belonging to another may be dishonest even though he was willing to pay for the property. ...read more.

Middle

This gave a two-stage test to be applied. Was what was done dishonest according to the standards of honest and reasonable people? If so, did the defendant (D) realise that what he was doing was dishonest by those standards? This is left to the jury in each case to decide. For the actus reus of theft, it has to be proved that there was an appropriation of property, which belonged to another, in order to establish liability. The mens rea of theft are dishonesty and intention to permanently deprive another. In McIvor (1982) the Court of Appeal (CoA) sought to reconcile the differences between the subjective and objective tests for dishonesty. It decided that a subjective approach should be taken where the charge was conspiracy to defraud, but that the question of dishonesty in theft should be decided objectively. As this was later rejected by the CoA itself in Ghosh (1982), it shows that the courts themselves are not clear as to what the tests for dishonesty should be. ...read more.

Conclusion

Or even those who believe that ordinary people would regard them as morally justified in their actions? In Small (1988) the defendant claimed that a car he had appropriated had been abandoned by its owner. It had been left in one place for over a week with the keys in the ignition. The jury did not believe his story but his conviction was quashed by the CoA because he had honestly believed that this was the case. It is theft if property is merely removed for spite and is destroyed or thrown away. The uncertainties and loopholes in this area of law could be resolved if a statutory definition of dishonesty is given. In the case of Salvo (1980), the judge felt that it was not always the case that a citizen 'knows dishonesty if he sees it', and that further help was needed in some cases. At present, however, Ghosh does not represent the law on the subject until there is an intervention by either the House of Lords (HoL) or Parliament. Kikelomo Akinyosoye Terry Sweeney-YPA ...read more.

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