If i find something then decide to keep it is it Theft?

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shinytoy
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#1
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#1
if i innocently find something in the street belonging to another, pick it up intending to hand it in the next day, but then i change my mind and intend to keep it, it it theft?

i dont think so because the mens rea was not with me at the time of picking it up. so i havent committed an offence. but it doesnt seem right.
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shinytoy
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also, if my mens rea changes during the action of stealing, does it change the liablity?

i want a case that says if i change my mind eg find something, with NO mens rea of theft but then my mens rea changes and i decide not to hand it in and want to keep it, or use it for myself, what can i be done for?

im sure it isnt theft becuase the mens and actus dont coi incide. so what is it?
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Triplet1
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#3
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"A person is guilty of theft if he

dishonestly

appropriates

property

belonging to another with the

intention of permanently depriving the other of it.

thief and steal shall be construed accordingly"

I'm not really sure But you havnt tried to find the owner, so you are intending to permanently deprive the person of there property.

:confused:


Right?

May i ask what the property is? :p:
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JH08
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To be honest, the statutory interpretation of the Theft Act 1968 has been so diverse, using the language it could be feasible to argue it either way.

In my opinion, I think you would be. I agree with Triplet1, in the sense that it would depend on what the property was and therefore, if it could be argued as pertaining to another person.

Perhaps literally under the act you might not be, but using the mischief rule (which has been more widely applied since the end of the nineteenth century) it could well be argued that you are.
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Vohamanah
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Could you not apply the rules regarding coincidence of actus reus and mens rea as in cases like Fagan (The one where he drove onto the policeman's foot by mistake - not mens rea - but then refused to move the car once he realised) i.e. the appropriation of the found item would be a continuing act culminating in the decision to keep it, at which point there is mens rea. Alternatively (and more likely) is Thabo Meli (throwing the man off the cliff thinking he was dead) and a chain of events which at some point included an actus reus and a mens rea.

Alternatively (this may be a little wide of the mark, but hey...) if theft is committed on the dishonest appropriation of the property with intention to permanently deprive, could the offence be triggered by the change of mind? What I mean is on initial appropriation of the property there was no dishonesty or intention to deprive, so no offence has been committed. However, when you change your mind and decide to keep the property, you have developed all the necessary elements: Dishonesty, appropriation, intention to deprive etc. Therefore by changing your mind, although you already have possession of the property, could you not have created an offence from a previously honest situation?
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NickT
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#6
Report 13 years ago
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Well s2(1) of the Theft Act says that if you believe the owner could not be discovered by taking reasonable steps, you're not dishonest and therefore can't be guilty of theft. You don't have to take those reasonable steps either, just believe you couldn't find the owner by taking them.
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Tory_boy
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^Right. But if you found say a wallet on the street with no address to return it, you wouldn't have done what is reasonable by just putting it in your own pocket. You should hand it in either to the nearest public establishment such as shop (where the person who initially lost it is first likely to look) or you should hand it in at the local police station and tell them where you found it (the second place where most people are likely to inquire about it).
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stargirl001
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#8
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isnt this contemporaneous acts? you have the actus reus when you pick it up, but no mens rea. then you have mens rea when you decide to keep it, and the actus reus is continuing as you still have the wallet on your person
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seifer
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bit of a long shot, but persuasive precedent from the law on robbery - in hale 1979 the courts held that an appropriation was a continuing act (such that force could be used at ANY time during a continuing theft). theres a quote in the ocr special study booklet...

"to say that the conduct is over and done with as soon as he lays hands on the property...is contorary to common sense"

could possibly argue that the same principle could be applied to an appropriation in theft??

just my 2p
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Vohamanah
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(Original post by seifer)
bit of a long shot, but persuasive precedent from the law on robbery - in hale 1979 the courts held that an appropriation was a continuing act (such that force could be used at ANY time during a continuing theft). theres a quote in the ocr special study booklet...

"to say that the conduct is over and done with as soon as he lays hands on the property...is contorary to common sense"

could possibly argue that the same principle could be applied to an appropriation in theft??

just my 2p
Good point
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NickT
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#11
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#11
I could be wrong but I think this issue can be quite easily wrapped up.

S.3(1) of the Theft Act 1968 states:

``Any assumption by a person of the rights of an owner amounts to an appropriation, and this includes, where he has come by the property (innocently or not) without stealing it, any later assumption of a right to it by keeping or dealing with it as owner.''

So if not handing it in or whatever means you're being dishonest, it would be theft. (Unless of course, as per R v. Ghosh, ordinary people would not see your actions as being dishonest, so that probably depends upon what you found, and where you found it.)

If by deciding to keep it later, you satisfy the other requirements of theft - intent to permanently deprive, dishonesty, and the property can still be said to belong to another (would they have relinquished ownership if the thing you found was a diamond ring, or a wallet?) then yeah it could be theft.
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skunkhead
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forgive me for asking but are you men and women law students or something?

if so i could do with some legal help,im here in northern england but i am faceing the sheriffs court in edinburgh so any help would be very much appreciated as i will be representing my self,scottish law being different from english law all help would be good,ive been around for 45 years and have seen and been involved in many court cases from salmon poaching to armed robbery,so if yers are law students i can and will share my experences with both the courts and how the police work now and have worked in the past
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Geeza12
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#13
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But if you find gold in a park apparently you get half😐
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