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Criminal Code -Pt 8

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Today we look at offences relating to property as given in the Criminal Code, but as usual, I must remind you that according to Section 5 of the Code, ignorance of the law is not an excuse for any act or omission which would constitute an offence, unless knowledge of the law is expressly declared to be an element of the offence”. Offences relating to property are given under Chapter xiii of the Criminal Code (Cap.124) of the laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1990 Edition.{{more}}

Theft

One offence against property is that of theft, and the law describes it as dishonestly appropriating the property belonging to another “with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it”. It does not matter if the person is taking the item for gain or for his own benefit.

The law further describes the circumstances where the act may not be dishonest. For example, when there is an honest and reasonable belief that the person has a right in law to deprive the person of the property on behalf of himself or of a third person or where he has a reasonable belief that he would have the person’s consent.

Even though a person has the ability to pay for the item, it would still be consider “dishonestly appropriating” the property of another.

If you take the property of another and treat it as your own, you are assuming a right that only the owner has. This means that you have appropriated the property in terms of the meaning given by the law.

This is a crime that had escalated in our communities, especially in the agriculture sector, to such an extent that it had caused persons to abandon agriculture. However, a law has been passed providing for the appointment of rural police officers to offer some degree of protection. Hopefully, the incidence of theft would be greatly reduced, if not eradicated.

Any one who is found guilty of theft is liable to imprisonment. If it is a summary conviction, then trial would be in the magistrate’s court and a sentence of two years is the maximum. If on indictment then trial would be in the High court and sentence is for ten years

Robbery

This is covered by section 216 of the Criminal Code. It is where force is used to steal from a person. If the robber puts a person or seeks to put a person in fear of force being used, then he or she if found guilty, be liable to imprisonment for life.

Burglary

Burglary is perhaps one of the greatest fears in our communities. You only have to look around at the way homeowners protect their houses with iron bars to know that burglary is an ever present fear.

According to Section 217 of the Criminal Code, if a person “enters a building or part of a building as a trespasser with the intention to commit any offence”, or if he steals or causes grievous bodily harm, he would have committed an offence and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.

Where a firearm or imitation firearm, or weapon or explosive is involved, it is aggravated burglary, and the punishment is imprisonment for life.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]

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