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Sri Lankan Law Forum » Criminal Law Forum » Offence of Robbery

Offence of Robbery

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1 Offence of Robbery on Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:20 pm

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Sri Lankans' seem to take the offence of robbery more seriously than that of common theft, with the maximum custodial sentence being extended to ten years imprisonment. Robbery is charged under section 397 of the Penal code; 'theft is robbery if, in order to committing [the offence he] voluntarily causes [or attempts] to cause death, hurt [or] wrongful restraint'. The definition is very similar to English law, where the offence is chargeable under s8 Theft Act 1968; '[If at or immediately before] the time of theft [he] puts or seeks to put any person in fear of being subjected to force'.

The level of 'force' needed to satisfy the actus reus (physical aspect of the crime) of the legislation is outstandingly different from Sri Lankan law. In England a mere nudge so that someone looses their balance can be sufficient (this was shown in the case of Dawson and James 1978). So, in practice a relatively low level of physical contact can amount to force for the purpose of robbery. However in the Penal Code it explicitly states there must be 'hurt' or an 'instant wrongful restraint'. This low level of force seems to conflict with the harsh custodial sentence given in England for this s8 offence, which ranges up to life imprisonment. The judge, however, can accommodate for the level of force at their discretion by deciding the sentence, albeit either custodial/community sentence or even a mere fine

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