CRIMINAL LAW ASSIGNMENT: LARCENY
The offence of Larceny is covered under the Crimes Act of 1900, Part 4 sub-division 5.
The essential requisites of the same are as under:
Of the aforementioned requisites, the latter three requisites are part of the Mens Rea, i.e., the mental element. Hence, their existence is essential when of the property is being stolen.
As regards the notion of the property belonging to someone who is not the suspect, it means that at the time it is taken the property must be either owned, managed or be in the possession of someone else, not the suspect.
Prior to the inception of theft being committed, the presence of actual physical motion of the object, irrespective of its magnitude, must have been made by either the suspect or an agent of theirs. The most minute of displacements is sufficient.
The allegation of the property belonging to its owner is termed supporting evidence. If satisfied of the ownership of the stolen property, the next step is to be satisfied that the taking was without the agreement of the master of the said property.
An act falls short of qualifying as an instance of larceny where an object is removed from its owner’s possession temporarily, save the condition that the taker comprehends that it is certain the result of such an act will cause the owner’s perpetual dispossession.
Where the suspect claims bona fide, lawful justification regarding the taking of property, then despite the claim’s lawlessness, the taker shall not be held guilty for such theft.
The question here is if the suspect believed bona fide that they did have such a legal right. The suspect’s moral belief of deserving a title to the property is invalid.
The suspect operated in a deceitful way by intentionally and unmistakably stealing the property, while possessing the knowledge of the ownership of the said property to lie with some other individual. The measure of dishonesty must be ascertained through application of prevalent standards of decency among the general public. [See: R v Weatherstone 1987]
Pertaining to the present case, it has 5 instances worthy of attention:
Per the given requirements of the offence, Requirement 1 and 2 are satisfied, since the property belonged to the store and the same was moved by the customers in each case, respectively.
As regards requirement 3, it cannot be said that the taking was without the owner’s (store’s) consent, since the store displays goods with the intent of offering them to the buyers. However, looking at it from the point of view of consumption without paying for the commodities can be brought under requirements 5 and 6, wherein the lack of a “bona fide” belief along with the presence of a dishonest intention as regards such taking is essential for the offence to be complete.
Since the customers knew they needed to pay for their takings, they can be said to fulfil a majority of the requirements for the offence, except requirements 3 and 4, since the owner does not intend to remain in perpetual possession of the items in the store, and because the aim is to sell the items placed on the display, the permission of the owner to take the items is also implied. The remaining elements are met with.
The following alternatives are available to the police as opposed to the arrest and detention in the case referred above:
A notice which necessitates a person to attend court in order to submit a response to a charge or a claim against them, or to an application which seeks an order against them. In the given case, where the offender, or offenders are booked on charges of larceny, they will have to attend Court proceedings to answer to the charges, whether they plead guilty, or innocent.
It is a notice which is meant to be employed as regards particular criminal offences, such as offensive behaviour and theft or larceny. It is a financial penalty that requires clearance within 3 weeks.
Since it is merely a fine, it has a lesser degree of aggression attached to it, and it should hopefully deter the decent general from practising such acts again, owing to the public shaming they have to endure when slapped with a fine for petty civil offences.
Offences which can be deterred by way of a cautioning warning include stealing or causing harm of any sort to the property. Specifically, younger violators can be cautioned this way, provided they admit to commission of the offence, subsequent to being afforded a chance to obtain legal advice and on the precondition of their agreement to being cautioned/warned.
Caution warnings can also include written letters of apology from the offender to the affected victim, thus repairing the damage which would be caused by the youth’s undesirable conduct under the garb of his/her naiveté. A ‘Statement of Harm’ may be made by victims in cases where the offender is a youth or child who has formerly been bestowed with a caution from the police or a Court.
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