Skip to main content


Theft is infamously known as one of the three ‘dishonesty’ offences along with Robbery and Burglary and while it is considered a lesser offence of the three, depending on the circumstances you could be faced with a prison sentence. Theft can be defined as dishonestly taking property that belongs to someone else with the purpose of permanently depriving them of it for your own personal gain. 

At Cartwright King, we acknowledge that genuine mistakes can occur and that you have the legal right to defend your case. If you have been accused of theft, it is in your best interests to acquire legal advice as soon as possible and we will be available to guide you through the legal process and represent you in court if necessary. 

Free Police Station advice

Everyone has the right to free legal advice when at the Police Station. Our experienced lawyers are available at any time of day or night to help you and make sure your position is protected and that your defence is properly presented. If you are arrested remember to tell the Police that you want to be represented by Cartwright King. Our highly skilled Criminal Defence team are here to take the worry off your hands. We can also provide an initial telephone consultation to see how we can assist in your case. 

Please call us on 0808 168 5550 or email us using the enquiry form below, and we can arrange an initial telephone consultation to see how we can assist in your case.

Theft and the law

According to Section 1 Theft Act 1968 you could be found guilty of theft if you permanently take someone else’s property and intentionally acted dishonestly in order to achieve this. Theft can therefore be a complicated area of law as it is not limited to one specific act – it can be committed in a variety of ways. 

The criminal acts that fall under theft include, but are not limited to the following:

Shoplifting – This is committed if you were to walk out of a shop with items without paying for them. This may happen for a variety of reasons, but if it is proven that you did this deliberately and dishonestly then you could face prosecution.    

Theft by Finding – This is committed if you find an item of value which seems to have been discarded and choose to keep it for yourself. This is most commonly money which has been found in the street. If you choose to keep this for yourself rather than handing it in to the Police, then you may be prosecuted for ‘theft by finding’.

Taking a vehicle – This is committed if you was to take a vehicle without another person’s consent. This is most commonly known as ‘joy riding’. If the car was driven dangerously or damaged before it was recovered it would then become an ‘aggravated’ offence which means that any potential punishment would be more severe.

Identity theft – This is where an individual tries to pass themselves off as somebody else in order to obtain property. It is often achieved by stealing someone’s bank cards and then seeking to use them for gain. Once this has been achieved, the charge of any product/service will be billed to the victim of the identity theft.  Depending on the circumstances, this will be viewed as a serious crime which could lead to a prison sentence.

Handling stolen goods – This is also known as ‘fencing’ and is committed when you buy or acquire property which is stolen. The prosecution must prove that you know or believed the items were stolen, and mere suspicion will not be enough. You might be charged with possession of criminal property which does not require the same level of knowledge. Courts view handling stolen property very seriously, thinking that disposing of stolen property encourages the original theft.

In order for you to be found guilty of theft, it must be proved that you acted dishonestly and took something which belonged to somebody else. If you have been accused, it is therefore essential that you seek professional legal representation at the earliest opportunity and be guided through what actions should be taken next.

What sentence could you face?

There are detailed guides for courts when imposing sentence for theft which will depend on a number of factors. For example;

  • The value involved – stealing over £20,000 can attract long sentences of imprisonment at the Crown Court.
  • The nature of the victim – stealing from someone who is vulnerable will always mean a higher sentence.
  • Evidence of pre planning or organisation will make matters more serious.
  • If the theft happens to fund an addiction or is an impulsive isolated act it may provide explanation to allow sentencing for a community order.

If you have been charged with theft, it is essential that you seek expert legal advice as early as possible. If you are arrested you are entitled in law to be legally represented at the Police Station. You should always insist that the Police contact Cartwright King and not speak to the Police until you have had chance to consult with one of our experienced team. Cartwright King’s Defence Solicitors are available to advise you day and night and through the legal proceedings and represent you in court if necessary making sure that the strongest defence case is put forward for you. They will also advise about your right to appeal should the need arise.

Legal Aid

At Cartwright King our experienced lawyers will always advise you whether or not Legal Aid is available to fund your defence. 
In order to be eligible you have to be able to pass two tests;

  • First you must show that it is in the interests of justice that Legal Aid be granted to you. This might be because to establish your case will involve expert cross examination of witnesses by our lawyers, or because you are at risk of imprisonment, or that you suffer from some disability.
  • Secondly you must pass a means test. This is based on the weekly income of yourself and your partner. There are slightly different rules depending on whether your case is to be heard at the Magistrates or Crown Court and the provisions are complex but we are happy to take your details and advise whether you might qualify. 

If unfortunately you do not qualify for Legal Aid we will always provide a competitive quotation to deal with your case on a private basis and can agree a payment plan with you to assist you and your family secure the best possible representation for you.

How can we help you?

If you have been accused of theft, our experienced Criminal Defence Solicitors are available to advise you throughout the entire process and build a strong case for your defence. We promise to:

  • Advise you throughout the entire process
  • Seek legal aid for you subject to your finances
  • Deal confidentially with any concerns you may have
  • Represent you in interview under caution by the police 
  • Prepare and collate any and all documentary evidence that may be required
  • Represent you in both Magistrates and Crown Court as necessary
  • Take the worry off your hands
  • Argue your case
  • Prepare an appeal if necessary

Our team are highly ranked in the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners guides. We have extensive experience in successfully defending people who have been accused of being involved with theft.

Why Choose Us?

At Cartwright King, our solicitors understand the long term consequences being accused of theft can potentially cause and the stress that is affiliated during this difficult time. We are available to support you throughout the entire process, explaining the likely outcomes and fighting on your behalf. 

How to make contact

Always insist on representation by one of our lawyers if you are arrested. Remember that advice at the Police Station is free and will not delay your release.

If you require legal advice or if you would like a no obligation, free initial telephone discussion, then please call us on 0808 168 5550. Alternatively you can email the Criminal Defence team using the enquiry form below, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Our Criminal Defence Solicitors can provide advice and are happy to meet at a time and location that suits you. We also have a network of offices in BirminghamBedfordDerbyLeedsLeicesterLondon TempleManchesterMiddlesbroughNorthamptonNottingham and Sheffield.

Email you enquiry:

Email your Enquiry

Please complete the form below providing a brief outline of your query, and a member of our friendly team will be in touch with you shortly.

What clients say about us


Please provide a brief outline of your query below, and one of our specialist team members will be in touch with you shortly.


Head of Crime

Criminal Defence

Head of Team

Criminal Defence

Head of Team

Criminal Defence

The Legal 500 - The Clients Guide to Law Firms
Email Cartwright King Solicitors
Call Cartwright King Solicitors