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

Offence of Theft

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1 Offence of Theft on Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:21 pm

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Theft in Sri Lanka is charged under section 366 of the Penal Code. A person is guilty of the offence if they 'dishonestly [take] movable property out of the possession on any person, without that person's consent.' The key word regarding theft is 'dishonestly', this is also fundamental to a successful theft charge in English law. A person is chargeable in England if they; 'dishonestly, appropriate, property, belonging to another, with the intention of permanently depriving' (S1 Theft Act 1968). Under common, law a person is dishonest if they behave dishonestly by the standards of reasonable people and the defendant realised this. This key element of the mens rea (guilty mind) is similar in both Sri Lankan and English law to a sound conviction of the offence. In England the Judge has the discretion of imposing a custodial sentence of up to seven years. In Sri Lanka, some may argue the three year (maximum) sentence does not allow enough discretion to accommodate for the seriousness of the appropriation. However, from an objective view the English custodial sentence could be seen to be too heavy in proportion to the common crime at hand.

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