Essay Example: The Proofs for Theft in a Court of Law

Published: 2023-01-09
Essay Example: The Proofs for Theft in a Court of Law
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Criminal law Judicial system Case study
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 1951 words
17 min read

Larceny or theft is the intentional picking of property that belongs to another person without the individual's consent to permanently deprive the owner of the item. According to the Judicial Commission of New South Wales (2019, p.1), larceny is a crime punishable by the law. However, the jury must prove that the item or property was stolen based on the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), Pt 4, subdivision 5. This assignment aims at analyzing a given case study to establish the proofs that must be achieved to hold a defendant liable for theft in a court of law.

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Summary of the Chosen Case Study

The selected case study for analysis is "It's not yours until you pay" (Lawson 2010, p.1). The case presents different events of customers shoplifting in a supermarket. The first customer took a bunch of grapes, a peach, and gave to the kid to eat. The client will not pay as the kid will have consumed the fruits by the time they arrive at the counter. The second client, an older woman, pulled bananas from a bunch and left the stalks attached to the whole fruit with the intention of not paying at the counter. The third client, a guy, removed the green stems from the hydroponic tomatoes so that they may look like the ordinary ones. This customer intended to buy the hydroponic plants at a lower price like the common ones. The fourth instance in the supermarket is when women in the queue at the checkout pick magazines from the rack to read them until they are served. However, it does not bother them that those magazines are for sale, instead, they leave them on the stand after reading. The last instance involves a woman picking almond nuts from the display case and ate them while shopping around the supermarket. As if that is not enough, the lady went back, picked more nuts, and put them inside her handbag and started munching on them. All these events are cases of shoplifting as the clients take fruits and nuts from the supermarket, as well as read magazines and fail to pay for them. However, it might be difficult for the jury to proof larceny when there is no available evidence of the stolen property.

Proofs of Larceny

The Judicial Commission of New South Wales (2019, p.1) states that to proof larceny, juries must understand that in justifying a conviction, not all the items referred in the charge require proving to have been stolen. Part of the property that is alleged for larceny is enough to suffice a crime of theft. According to Part 4, subdivision 5 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), there are six aspects of proof that a judge in a court of law must identify to hold a person guilty of theft. The property alleged must belong to another person other than who is accused. That property must have been taken and carried away, and the picking must have occurred without the consent of the owner. Further, the taking of the item must have been done intentionally to deprive the owner of it. The picking of the property must be dishonest and done without making a claim of right in good faith (Judicial Commission of New South Wales 2019, p.1).

Based on the situation of picking off the property, the above proofs are not able to be satisfied with the issues that arise in the case study. The customer's actions of theft can be proven based on only five of the provided proofs under the Crimes Act 1990 (NSW). In scenarios1, 2, 3 and 5, the customers took property from the supermarket that belonged to another person other than the accused, they picked the items without consent of the owners, with the intention to deprive the owner of those items permanently, they did not claim their right to the property in good faith, and also took the things dishonestly. However, when looking at the second element of proof of stealing that requires the property to have been taken and carried away, it will not be possible for the jury to be satisfied in the issue that arises in the fourth event of getting the magazine, reading and placing it back to the stand. However, as stated by the Judicial Commission of New South Wales (2019, p.1) when proofing a conviction of theft, juries must be aware that not all the items referred in the charge require proving to have been stolen. Therefore, other alternatives can be used to proof theft in the issues arising from the cases study.

Involvement of the Police

In proofing larceny in the issues arising from the case study, the participation of the police is necessary to apply the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities)(LEPRA) Act 2002 to question, search, and arrest or caution a suspect. The LEPRA is one of the laws that provide some of the central police powers by setting circumstances under which the law enforcers can exercise their powers and responsibilities (The NSW Legislation 2019, p.1). Under the LEPRA Act 2002, No. 103, part 8, the police have skills relating to arrest. Part 9, Division 2 gives police officers the powers to investigate and question detained persons. Under Part 9 of the LEPRA, an arrest is when a police officer accompanies an individual to the purpose of participating in the investigative process (NSW Legislation 2019, p.1). If they intend to question, search, arrest or caution a suspect under Part 9, Division 2 of the LEPRA, the police officer must be in the belief and holding sufficient evidence that the individual has committed the offense and that is the reason of being subjected to investigation. In the case study, the police officers have all the rights to believe that the customers in events 1, 2, 3, and 5 engaged in shoplifting in the supermarkets, therefore, committing the offense of theft and warranting a subjection to search and questioning for the establishment of proof for larceny.

In the above case study, the police should arrest the four suspects stated in the scenario and hold them in custody, for questioning and search as an approach for further investigation to gain proof of a crime. The LEPRA refers to Crimes Act 1990, s 356C, whereby a police officer has the power to detain an arrested individual for investigation whether that person committed the offense or not. Based on the events described in the case study, the police should arrest and detain the suspects of shoplifting in the supermarket. All the stated persons in the case are suspects, and the police officers should form a reasonable suspicion of their involvement in shoplifting. The police officers should go ahead and investigate the individuals involved in the theft to proof the offense.

The police powers under Part 4 of the LEPRA give the police powers to search and seizure without a warrant. Division 21A of Part 99 of the LEPRA state that police officers have ancillary skills to search people under specified provisions. If they intend to question, explore, arrest, or caution the suspects in event 1, 2, 3, and 5, the police must apply the reasonable ground that the people are suspects of the referred action. In undertaking the search, the police must require the suspected persons to open their mouth, clothes, and handbags or any other item in their possession. The police officer should not forcibly make the suspects open their mouths, bags, or shake their clothes.

Based on the provisions of Part 4 of the LEPRA and applied in the given case of "It's not yours until you pay," the police should take the action of searching the suspects of shoplifting in the supermarkets without necessarily obtaining a warrant. The case is, and the police have been granted the power to investigate such instances without first obtaining authorization. Therefore, arresting the suspects for questioning and search is a crucial process of getting the required proof of theft in the issues arising from the case study. The involvement of the police will require conducting an investigative procedure where all the suspects will take part in the questioning, search, and arrests. However, the arrested individuals will remain, protected suspects, until they are proven guilty of the larceny offense.

Alternatives for the Police

When dealing with the issues in the case study for events 1, 2, 3, and 5, there are various alternatives for police officers, including arrest, summons, and court attendance notice. Under section 99 of the LEPRA, the police have the power to arrest suspected criminals of Larceny (Sanders 2018, p.1). The individuals will be arrested since the police officers have the conviction of their engagement in the offense of theft. The police will then place a charge in court against the alleged offenders for criminal proceedings to begin. The police officer will need to enter the details of the suspected criminals in the charge book and take the fingerprints. The culprits will be kept in custody up to the time of court hearing. The police can, during this time of detention, release the suspected persons based on bail. However, since the crime involved in the given case study is a serious crime and in this case, an indictable offense, the police officers will proceed with a charge for the suspected offenders to appear in court.

The police can also summon the suspects of theft in the supermarket by requiring the individuals to attend court. In that case, the police will request the court to provide summon to the suspects asking them to appear in court at the specified date, and time. The police officers may be provided with a warrant of arrest if the court finds it necessary after the person fails to attend court. For the court attendance notice, the police officer can use it instead of the charge and summons. In that case, the police will draft the note and issue it to the suspected criminals of theft in the supermarket while stating the specifics of their offense, data as well as a place of the court hearing as well as the consequences of failing to appear in court.

Reflection on the Police Action

The police action to arrest and charge the suspected individuals for larceny offense may not be the action to take. Sentas and McMahon (2014, p.785) stated that the NSW laws had been amended to expand the powers of the police regarding the arrest and its purpose as well as its use. Section 99 of the LEPRA Act 2002 (NSW) recognizes the flawed action of the government to require police officers in arresting suspected criminals and holding them in remand. Arrest by police officers should be the last result (Sentas and McMahon 2018, p.786). It should also be undertaken when the purpose is to deter criminal conduct. In the case of Williams v The Queen, the court held that arresting and detaining a person should only be done to bring the suspect before a justice to be charged as per the law.

When looking at the events taking place in the case study, it is evident that arrest and charging the suspected criminals will not be the best option to deal with the situation. The shoplifters have not been convicted of stealing from the supermarket as investigations are still undergoing. Therefore, the purpose of arresting and charging the suspects may not be convincing as the best course of action since the individuals will be kept in remand awaiting investigation through search and questioning. Sentas and McMahon (2018, p.785) added that proactive policing could be a better option for police officers when carrying out their investigations to obtain proof of the alleged crime for the suspected culprits. Dubber (2011, p.19) adds that policing gives officers the sovereign authority to follow the due procedure principles to provide a case material meaning before arresting and charging offenders. Proactive policing provides an understanding of the problems occurring as a result of following the law and purpose of arrest (Ratcliffe 2008, p.4).

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