Larceny

1. What is the legal definition of evading police officers?

  • There is no legal definition for larceny but the closest definition would be Theft under the penal code.

  • Theft, Under section 378. Whoever, intending to take dishonestly any movable property out of the possession of any person without that person’s consent, moves that property in order to such taking, is said to commit theft.

2. Is there a difference between theft and larceny?

N.A.

3. What are the examples of larceny? (ratio comparison to theft)

a) A, being Z’s servant and entrusted by Z with the care of Z’s plate, dishonestly runs away with the plate without Z’s consent. A has committed theft.

The act of breaching trust and fleeing away with someone else’s property falls under the act of theft.

b) A finds a ring belonging to Z on a table in the house which Z occupies. Here the ring is in Z’s possession, and if A dishonestly removes it, A commits theft.

Removing an item from someone else’s possession without consent or permission falls under theft

c) A takes an article belonging to Z out of Z’s possession, without Z’s consent, with the intention of keeping it until he obtains money from Z as a reward for its restoration. Here A takes dishonestly; A has therefore committed theft.

Taking an item from someone without consent or permission and using it against them for money falls under theft, as well as cheating.

4. What are the types of larceny?

a. Felony
Felony is a term not found in Singapore’s legal jurisprudence. Appears to be a term more commonly associated with US legal jurisprudence.

b. Misdemeanour
Misdemeanour is a term not found in Singapore’s legal jurisprudence. Appears to be a term more commonly associated with US legal jurisprudence.

 

5. What are the elements that have to be established before one is convicted of larceny?

With reference to section 378 of the Penal Code:
Whoever, intending to take dishonestly any movable property out of the possession of any person without that person’s consent, moves that property in order to such taking, is said to commit theft.

The elements of theft that have to be established are:

  • The taking of another person’s property dishonestly;

  • Without their consent; and

  • With the intent to deprive the person of that property.

6. What are some of the commonly used defences which may help to increase the chances of acquittal?

a) The accused was of unsound mind at the time of the offence(s) and was not aware of his or her action(s) and that they were wrong.

(In Singapore High Court case of Goh Lee Yin v Public Prosecutor [2006] 1 SLR(R) 530; [2005] SGHC 226 (at [7]), IMH found that the appellant was not of unsound mind at the time of the offences as she was aware of her actions and that they were wrong, and that she was fit to plead in a court of law)

Also can refer to section 84 of the Penal Code:

84.  Nothing is an offence which is done by a person who, at the time of doing it, by reason of unsoundness of mind, is —

(a) incapable of knowing the nature of the act;

(b) incapable of knowing that what he is doing is wrong (whether wrong by the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest persons or wrong as contrary to law); or

(c) completely deprived of any power to control his actions.
Illustration

 A, while labouring under a delusion, believes that he has received divine instructions to kill Z and that it is morally right for him to do so. A however knows that it is contrary to law to kill Z. A kills Z. Here, the defence of unsoundness of mind is not available to A as he is capable of knowing that it is contrary to law to kill Z.

b) Do note that if you are diagnosed to be a kleptomaniac, it is not a defence that will lead to an acquittal and you will still be sentenced. The court may even sentence you to a probation. Refer to Singapore High Court decision of Public Prosecutor v Goh Lee Yin and another appeal [2008] 1 SLR(R) 824; [2007] SGHC 205:

In relation to the sentencing principle of rehabilitation, that must be the primary focus for cases involving kleptomaniacs. That would advance the greater public interest in helping to keep the kleptomaniac from reoffending. The suitability of rehabilitation for the offender concerned would involve a consideration of many factors. While there would be offences which were so serious that rehabilitation must be considered to be of very little significance, the offences typically associated with the condition of kleptomania usually would not come within those offences. Instead, kleptomania readily lent itself to the accepted proposition that people who committed offences while mentally disordered should not be dealt with in the same way as other offenders. (at [97], [98] and [100])

In relation to the breach proceedings in relation to MA 112/2005, s 9(5) of the Probation of Offenders Act (Cap 252, 1985 Rev Ed) empowered the court to deal with the offender in any manner in which that court could deal with him if he had just been convicted by that court of that offence and that must include the imposition of a fresh term of probation. Given that rehabilitation best took place outside of prison walls, a fresh term of 18 months’ probation was imposed. (at [150] to [152])

In the result, for the reasons given above, I dismiss the Prosecution’s appeal in MA 88/2007 and impose a fresh term of probation of 18 months, as soon as the terms can be settled, on the respondent in relation to her breach of her probation order resulting from MA 112/2005. This will take effect upon my approval of its terms. (at [156])

7. What is the penalty for larceny?

Punishment for theft

379. Whoever commits theft shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years, or with fine, or with both.

8. Example of a local case

Refer to the Singapore High Court case of Goh Lee Yin v Public Prosecutor [2006] 1 SLR(R) 530; [2005] SGHC 226 (at [4]-[7]):

4 On 16 May 2005 at or about 4.00pm, the appellant entered Cold Storage Supermarket located at Novena Square, Thomson Road. She stole several shaver cartridges, a razor, shoe insoles, a skin file and dental floss (as set out in DAC 24015/05) and placed them into three empty Cold Storage plastic bags that she had taken. She then went to Tangs Departmental Store at Orchard Road and stole a body shaving system (which formed the basis of DAC 24016/05).

 

5 At or about 4.40pm that same day, the appellant proceeded to Metro Departmental Store at Paragon Shopping Center, Orchard Road, where she stole four bottles of “Clarins” Sun Care lotion and placed them into the Cold Storage plastic bags that she was still carrying. She was detained while leaving the store via the exit on the third level and arrested by the Police. She was then charged in the Subordinate Courts the following morning.

 

6 The appellant was out on bail when she committed the offences of 16 May 2005. She had been previously arrested for her offences of 27 April 2005 and 12 May 2005.

 

7 Pursuant to the Prosecution’s application, the court ordered the appellant to be remanded for two weeks at the Institute of Mental Health for a psychiatric examination. A report dated 30 May 2005 was prepared by Dr Jerome Goh Hern Yee (“Dr Goh”), a Registrar at the Department of Forensic Psychiatry, Woodbridge Hospital and Institute of Mental Health. Dr Goh diagnosed the appellant as suffering from kleptomania, an impulse control disorder. However, he certified that the appellant was not of unsound mind at the time of the offences as she was aware of her actions and that they were wrong, and that she was fit to plead in a court of law.

 

9. Conclusion

Theft is an arrestable offence under the penal code of Singapore and one of the most common crimes here, there are various types of punishment, depending on the nature of the case, generally the punishment for theft would be imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years, or with fine, or with both. In conclusion, stealing or taking possession without consent or permission of another, despite the value of the item would equate to theft.