The Law On Robbery Essay

1456 words - 6 pages

The Law on Robbery

The law on robbery is contained in the Theft Act 1968; an act in which
the government attempted to clarify the law on theft and related
offences. Robbery as an offence can be seen as an aggravated theft –
it is necessary that the elements of theft be satisfied before the
prosecution can attempt to achieve a successful conviction for
robbery. While the law surrounding the offence of Theft has been
subject to deliberation and criticism since the passing of the act,
the law on robbery has proved equally difficult to apply. It is
because of this that many legal commentators and reform groups have
proclaimed the need for updated legislation on the subject.

S8(2) Theft Act 1968 provides that the maximum sentence for a
conviction of Theft is life imprisonment, making it the most serious
of the theft offences. The government however has taken an
increasingly strict attitude towards the offence, and s2 Crime
(Sentences) Act 1997 attempted to provide new guidelines concerning
the sentencing for a conviction of robbery. This act states that a
second serious offence of robbery could attract an automatic life
sentence, unless the defence can argue that the case involves
‘exceptional circumstances’. Although the act contains no clear
definition of what is considered to be an ‘exceptional circumstance’,
the appellant in the case of Williams [2000] was unable to argue
against the automatic life sentence. The appellant argued that he had
not been violent in either case, and the carrier bag that he had told
the shop attendant contained a gun, in reality only contained a
bottle. The Court of Appeal decided that it was not enough for the
appellant to merely argue that such circumstances existed, it was more
important that the defendant no longer posed a threat to the general
public, and the conviction was therefore upheld. The passing of this
act has been subject to much criticism, and the industrious Professor
Sir John Smith commented on the case of Williams as ‘yet another
bizarre illustration of the Crime (Sentences) Act’.

Since robbery is an aggravated theft, it is impossible to secure a
conviction for robbery unless all the elements of theft can be
satisfied. Cases like Robinson [1977] demonstrate this. In this case,
a conviction of robbery could not be reached, as the defendant had
honestly believed he was lawfully entitled to the money. He was not of
course lawfully entitled to take violent steps to claim the money, so
could therefore still be liable for several of the non-fatal offences
against the person.

It is also necessary that the other elements of robbery are satisfied.
The definition in s8, states that the defendant must be proven to have
stolen ‘and immediately before or at the time of doing so and in order
to do so, he uses force on any person or seeks...

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