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Defining Theft and Its Elements

Question 1

Question 1 is a problem-solving question. You should answer this question in continuous prose (complete sentences and paragraphs, avoiding the use of lists and bullet points). Do not use an essay structure to answer this question, instead, you should use the IRAC problem-solving method covered in Legal Skills 2, Section 6 and the fourth Online Skills Workshop. Use the IRAC approach for each issue you cover in the main body of your answer. You will find the structure of The Code for Crown Prosecutors useful in deciding the structure of your answer. Remember that the scenario contains all of the facts known to you at the present time. Do not assume additional facts not provided in the question.

In order to answer this question you need to identify the relevant provisions in The Code for Crown Prosecutors. You need to apply the provisions of the Full Code Test to the facts of the case in order to decide whether Agnes should be prosecuted. You are not expected to discuss or have detailed knowledge of the offence of theft. Make sure you reach a clear, reasoned conclusion on whether Agnes should be charged. Note that you should apply all of the provisions of the Full Code Test to the facts given, even if you conclude that one or more of the stages are not met.

Question 2

This is a short essay question which asks you to summarise Johnston’s argument in a logical order, writing in full sentences and paragraphs. The word ‘summarise’ is defined through the following link. In order to answer this question, you should only include specific information which has relevance to what is being asked. Any material included that does not have direct relevance to the question will not be provided a mark. You should not use anything other than the article when answering this question.

This question requires you to find a journal article. You should ensure that you complete Legal Skills 2 before attempting this. You can find this article using LexisLibrary and you should answer the question in your own words avoiding direct quotations from the journal article.
Note that while it states in the OU Law School Undergraduate Assessment Guide that short answer questions can be one line long, we expect you to write a full answer which matches, or is close to, the suggested word count for this question.

Question 3

This question asks you to explain how the IRAC problem-solving method introduced in Legal Skills 2 and the fourth Online Skills Workshop helped you to structure your answer to Question 1 of this TMA. If you were unable to attend this online tutorial there is a recording available to listen to in your Online Tutorial Room (accessible from the W102 website). When explaining how you have used the IRAC method introduced in your answer to Question 1, be specific and indicate exactly how you have put the skill into practice by providing examples. In order to answer this question you should: consider when you used the IRAC method reflect on how you used the method.

Defining Theft and Its Elements

The main issue here is about the theft case that involves Agnes being found with handbag in her shopping bag yet she had not paid for the handbag that worth 250 pound. Thus, it is possible to understand this issue and make a decision whether Agnes should be charged. Before doing this, however, it is precise to understand what theft entails. By definition, theft refers to crimes entailing a person taking the property of another person/business without their approval/permission. In legal meaning, theft is described as unauthorized taking of property from another person with the intention of permanently depriving him of the property. From the above meaning; two critical elements are highlighted; taking of someone else’s property; as well as the requisite intent to deprive the victim of his property permanently (Chalmers, 2017). Both two elements forms the basis of the issue facing Agnes.  The former element in this case requires seizing possession of property which belongs to another person and this can involve removing/attempting to remove the property. Nevertheless, it is the element of intent whereby most of complex legal challenges characteristically emerge in theft-linked case. Thus, for the prosecution to prove theft, they must show that Agnes acted with particular intent to take someone else’s property and keep it or ever convert it.

This section uses the Code for Crown Prosecutors (CCP) to explain and determine whether Agnes should be prosecuted for theft. The CCP is a public document that was issued by the Director of Public Prosecution which outlines the general principles that must be followed by the Crown Prosecutions when making decisions.  The CCP looks at the adequacy of the evidence against the defendant (Antoniou & Akrivos, 2017). When the Crown Prosecutions are deciding whether there is adequate evidence to charge, they have to take into account whether the evidence is usable in court and also credible and reliable. They have to remain satisfied that there is adequate evidence to avail a “realistic prospect of conviction”. In this Code, the phrase “suspect” is utilized in describing an individual who is yet to be subjected to formal criminal proceeding; and the “defendant” denotes an individual who is already charged/summoned, while “offender” denotes an individual who has admitted his guilt to the police officer or investigator/prosecutor or a person already found guilty in the court of law (Barry, 2017). 

The code has both evidential and public interest stages. Thus, prosecutors is expected to decide whether to proceed with prosecution only following the completion of the investigation and when all the existing evidence has been properly reviewed (Johns, Hayes, Scicchitano & Grottini, 2017). Nevertheless, where it is clear before the gathering and taken into account the likely evidence, that the interest of the public doesn’t need the prosecution thereby making the prosecutors to make a decision not to proceed. According to the evidential stage, the prosecutors have to be satisfied that there is adequate evidence to avail a realistic conviction prospect against the suspect on every charge (Iannacci, 2016). This must take into consideration the likely defense case and the manner it will probably be affecting the conviction prospects. Therefore, a case that fails to pass the evidential phase has no reason proceeding to prosecute irrespective of how sensitive/serious the case might appear.

The Code for Crown Prosecutors (CCP) and Its Evidential and Public Interest Stages

The finding of the existence of the realistic conviction prospect is anchored on the objective assessment of evidence by the prosecutor. This entails the influence of each defense alongside any additional info which the suspect has put forward or even the defense she might rely. This implies that an objective, impartial as well as reasonable bench or judges or magistrates who hear the case alone effectively directed as well as acting based on law, remains more probably than not to rich a conviction based on the alleged charge. This remains different from what the court might do when convicting as it will only convict once sure that the defendant is guilty.

Thus in assessing whether Agnes should be prosecuted for theft, the prosecutors must get the answers to the three core questions about the evidence. One is that ‘can the evidence be used in court”? Here, the prosecutor must take into account whether there is any query over some evidence admissibility. In Agnes’ case, the prosecutor has to assess the probability that the evidence being held as inadmissible by the court as well as the significance of such an evidence in regards to the entire evidence. The second guiding question is; “is the evidence reliable?” Here, the prosecutor must take into consideration whether any reason exist questioning the evidence reliability, including the integrity and accuracy of the evidence. The last question that must be answered by the prosecutor is, “is the evidence credible?” Here, the prosecutor has to take into considerations whether there is any reason that can make the evidence credibility doubted (Bell, 2017).

The threshold test is also important to be considered particularly, whether there is reasonable suspicion in this case. For example, the prosecutor must remain satisfied that there is at least a reasonable suspicion that Agnes has committed the offence. This can be determined by having the prosecutors considering the prevailing evidence through witness statements, info or material so long the prosecutor is satisfied that: it is relevant; and it is capable of being framed into an admissible format for court presentation; and it would be usable in Agnes’ case. In case this is met, the second part of the threshold then ensues: whether additional evidence can be collected for the provision of a realistic conviction prospect (Redmayne, 2015).

Conclusion

In my view, Agnes fits all the requirements to be charged with theft. As can be seen, the prosecution has reasonable suspicion because she is already found the property. Moreover, her actions fits the definition of theft because she has taken this handbag without permission. The handbag worth 250 pound is found in her shopping bag but it is true that she had not paid for the handbag. Also, I believe that the evidence at hand are reliable, credible and admissible in court. The intent can be proved that she too the handback to deprive the owner permanently. The threshold test and evidential stage test are all met and hence the prosecution should proceed with the case. As highlighted by Brian, Agnes was seen examining the handbag and look at her mobile before finding her daughter and walking out of the departments store. This alone makes the suspicion reasonable. This is because Brian clearly puts it that Agnes walked purposefully and appeared to be well aware of her actions. Brian’s statement is supported by the CCTV footage that showed Agnes in different points as she left the store and even seen looking at her phone many times. Moreover, her own admission of the handbag being in her shopping bag without paying for it further presents the prosecution with a reasonable suspicion. Thus, the point where Agnes denies committing theft based on her claim that her daughter could have put the handbag into her shopping bag while she was distracting should be proved/disapproved in court once she has been charged. Agnes should have her line of defense in court including taking anxiety medications and the possibility of the daughter putting the handbag in her shopping bag only once she has been charged because there is apparent evidence to charge her in court for theft.

Assessing Whether Agnes Should be Prosecuted for Theft based on CCP

The article summarized the ramification of the early guilty plea scheme.  It clearly states various issues for ever increasing need for a smooth criminal justices process.  The scheme core function is to transform the emerged adversarial criminal cases of wales and England. The court of Wales and England mainly focus on prioritizing both the economy and efficiency (Johnston & Smith, 2017).  To ensure the smooth functioning of the court cases, the court implement criminal rules and procedure, swift criminal proceeding and clear goals easy to understand.  Despite various attempt to improve the managerialism approach, the approach was not efficient and effective as predicted. To improve the criminal case approach, the court realized the importance of consolidating both the efficiency and effectiveness with the birth of BCM (Better Case Management Initiative). The main goal of BCM includes the following:

  • To lower the number of hearing
  • To strengthened engagement and participation of every parties within the system
  • To ensure adherence to court directions, crimPR and practice
  • To increase strong case management

BCM came up with a different case management initiative which is called Early Guilty Plea (EGP) to enables them fulfilled their Goals.  Crown Prosecution Service stated that there exist huge advantages of performing Plea at the initial opportunity, which involve efficiency savings. As from 2017 June, the court came up with the guideline (Johnston & Smith, 2017).

The IRAC denotes: Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion. This methods works as a methodology for the legal analysis. The format of IRAC is usable often in hypothetical queries in law school as well as bar exams.  This is the process which each lawyer will think about a legal problem. It is useful because it permits one to decrease the complexities of law to a simple understandable equation (Yin & Desierto, 2016). It avails a stepwise basis for solving legal problems. It starts with the issue in this case Agnes’ theft case, then proceeds to the rules or laws that must apply like the law on theft. Then the application of such laws to the legal issues and then a conclusion is drawn.

IRAC method has helped me in structuring the response in question one. For instance, I had to identify the legal issue (alleged theft of the handbag by Agnes). Thus, I named the legal issue an actions raised by the underlying problem’s fact (Sutton & Brief, I. R. A. C. 2015). Then I was able to go through each element to help me determine whether the facts and conduct of Agnes satisfied the requisite legal requirements of every action based on the Code for Crown Prosecutors. I then was able to identify the rules (Code or Crown Prosecutors and the laws relating to theft) and applied them effectively to the issue to determine whether Agnes should be charged (Enright, 2015). Finally, I was able to present the “conclusion’ element of IRAC by reviewing the courses of actions I had discussed in question 1 and recommended the best alternative based on the likely success of the option.

References

Antoniou, A. K., & Akrivos, D. (2017). Crown Prosecution Service Case Files Review: Setting the Scene. In The Rise of Extreme Porn (pp. 229-251). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Barry, J. (2017). Prosecutors–Should We Trust Them? A Cross-Jurisdictional Analysis Of The Effectiveness And Transparency Of Limits On Prosecutorial Discretion During Plea Bargaining. Te Wharenga-New Zealand Criminal Law Review, 154-179.

Bell, V. (2017). The James spigelman oration 2016: Judicial legitimacy and the limits of review Sydney, 22 November 2016. Brief, 44(7), 8.

Bell, V. (2017, September). Judicial legitimacy and the limits of review. In Judicial Review: Selected Conference Papers: Journal of the Judicial Commission of New South Wales, The(Vol. 13, No. 3, p. 233). Judicial Commission of NSW.

Chalmers, J. (2017). Clarifying the Law on Assisted Suicide? Ross v Lord Advocate.

Enright, C. (2015). How to Answer a Problem Question. Sinch Legal Group.

Iannacci, F. (2016). On routines and generative systems: investigating the emergence of duty prosecutors using critical realist case study principles.

Johns, T. L., Hayes, R., Scicchitano, M. J., & Grottini, K. (2017). Testing the effectiveness of two retail theft control approaches: an experimental research design. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 13(2), 267-273.

Johnston, E., & Smith, T. (2017). The early guilty plea scheme and the rising wave of managerialism. Criminal Law and Justice Weekly, 181(13), 210-212.

Redmayne, M. (2015). Introduction: Character in the Criminal Trial.

Sutton, N., & Brief, I. R. A. C. (2015). IRAC Case Analysis Paper Janacita Horton, Leann Hunter, Latonya Myers, Helen Rowland, Sherry Stender LAW/531. Norma.

Yin, K., & Desierto, A. (2016). Legal problem solving and syllogistic analysis: A guide for foundation law students.

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