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Sri Lankan Law Forum » Criminal Law Forum » Attempted Theft

Attempted Theft

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1 Attempted Theft on Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:19 pm

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Under Section 385 of the Penal Code a person is punishable in Sri Lanka if '[he wanders with] a gang associated for the purpose of habitually committing theft or robbery'. He 'shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend up to seven years'. In England we pride ourselves on only committing the guilty mind, however criminal action is equally important. This offence would not be punishable under English law, or, even amount to an inchoate offence; it would be classed as mere criminal preparation.

For an act to be considered an attempt in England (under the Criminal Attempts Act 1981), the defendant's acts must be more than 'merely preparatory to the commission of the full offence', they must have moved from planning and preparation to the execution of the crime. The case of R V Campbell 1991 clearly illustrates this, the defendant was found outside a post office with a gun and a threatening note, he was arrested outside the post office and admitted it was his intention to rob the business. His conviction for attempted robbery was quashed because it was held that there was no evidence on which a jury could safely find his acts were more than merely preparatory to the offence. Obviously, this flags up huge public policy issues as the defendant was more than capable of committing the offence again, it seems absurd the safety of the public first have to be at risk before a sound conviction can be made. Sri Lankan law seems to be beneficial to the public's safety; however it is questionable whether it protects the rights of the defendant who never fully embarked on the crime 'good and proper'.

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