Criminal Law Outline:Theft and Robbery


Theft Ordinance (Cap 210) Section 2 Basic definition of theft:

(1)A person commits theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and thief ( 竊賊 ) and steal ( 偷竊 ) shall be construed accordingly. (2)It is immaterial whether the appropriation is made with a view to gain, or is made for the thief’s own benefit.

Actus Reus

(a).Property: “includes money and all other property, real and personal, including things in action and other intangible property.”(S5(1)). Excluding: land, mushroom and Wild creatures.(S5(2)-(6)).

(b).Belonging to another:”be regarded as belonging to any person having possession or control of it, or having in it any proprietary right or interest.”(s6(1))
(i).If A is in possession of a book belonging to B, then the book belongs to both A and B.
(ii). Section 6(3) covers situations in which property is given to the defendant for a particular purpose but he has used it in a different way for some other purpose. In such cases, property is generally regarded as ‘belonging to’ the original owner even
though the defendant has been given possession and control of the property.
(iii). Section 6(4) provides that property (again, usually money) which is passed to the defendant by mistake is regarded as ‘belonging to’ the original owner. This means that failure to return the property once the mistake has been realised amounts to theft. The failure must be deliberate so the defendant must be aware that he has received property by mistake.(Re Attorney-General’s Reference (No. 1 of 1983) [1985] QB 182 (CA)).

(c). Appropriation (s4). Appropriation is the assumption of any of the rights of the owner, even if the owner consents to this assumption. DPP v Gomez (1993) AC 442 (HL), affirmed in R v. Hinks [2001] 2 AC 241 (HL).

Mens Rea

(a).Dishonesty:two stage of dishonest (see bellow): S3 and R v. Ghosh [1982] QB 1053 (CA)

(b). Intention permanently to deprive: (S7).” (1)A person is….regarded as having the intention of permanently depriving the other of it if his intention is to treat the thing as his own to dispose of regardless of the other’s rights; and a borrowing or lending of it may amount to so treating if, but only if, the borrowing or lending of it is for a period and in circumstances making it equivalent to an outright taking or disposal.”

Section 7(1) includes situations where the property is taken on a temporary basis (borrowing or even a transient interference) so goes beyond what might ordinarily be thought of as permanent deprivation.

Consider what the defendant’s intentions were at the time he appropriated the property: if it was to remove it permanently then his liability is established irrespective of what he actually went on to do.


CAP 210 THEFT ORDINANCE Section 10 Robbery

(1)A person commits robbery if he steals, and immediately before or at the time of doing so, and in order to do so, he uses force on any person or puts or seeks to put any person in fear of being then and there subjected to force.
(2)Any person who commits robbery, or an assault with intent to rob, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction upon indictment to imprisonment for life.

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