Theft is an offence contrary to Section 9 of the Theft Ordinance (Chapter 210). It involves the dishonest appropriation of property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.
In “The Principal’s Thieves”, the cash, the Octopus Cards, the iPad and the mobile phones are all items of property and capable of being stolen.
The word “appropriates” simply means treating someone else’s property as your own to do what you like with.
The words “belonging to another” mean that the property belongs to someone other than the person who takes it. In “The Principal’s Thieves”, the items in the Principal’s Office do not belong to Fai and Ming. Neither of them have any lawful claim to those items.
To amount to theft, the taking of someone else’s property must be dishonest and with the intention to permanently deprive that person of their property. A person is dishonest if right thinking members of society would consider that what the taker did was dishonest and the taker realised that what was being done was dishonest according to that standard. This is what is known as “the Ghosh test” from the leading authority R v Ghosh, a decision of the English Court of Appeal in 1982. Ghosh remains good authority for the law of theft in Hong Kong.
Burglary is an offence contrary to Section 11 of the Theft Ordinance (Chapter 210). It is committed where a person enters a building or part of a building as a trespasser with intent to steal anything inside the building or part of a building, inflicting grievous bodily harm on any person therein, raping any woman therein or intending to do any unlawful damage to the building or anything therein.
Burglary is also committed where a person who has entered a building or any part of a building as a trespasser steals or attempts to steal anything inside the building or the part of a building or inflicts or attempts to inflict grievous bodily harm on any person therein.
Entry as a trespasser simply means intentionally going into a building or a part of a building without the permission of the owner or occupier of the building or without any lawful right to enter.
Whether the place entered is a building or part of a building is a question of fact in each case. A customer in a shop who goes into a part of a shop marked “Private” or “Staff Only” enters that area as a trespasser. A customer only has permission to enter the public area of the shop.
Making off without payment is an offence contrary to Section 18C of the Theft Ordinance (Chapter 210). It is committed where a person forms a dishonest intent to avoid payment after goods or services have been received. This would include leaving a restaurant without paying, leaving a taxi without paying the fare or filling up with petrol at a self-service petrol station then leaving without paying for the petrol. In these situations the supplier of goods or services expects payment for the goods or services after they have been supplied and before the person who has received them leaves the place of supply. If the person who has received the goods or services makes off, which means leaves the place where payment was expected, dishonestly intending to avoid payment, the offence is complete.
The dishonesty required is the same as for theft. The difference between theft and making off is that in theft the dishonest intent must be present when the goods are appropriated whereas in making off the dishonest intent arises after the goods or services have been received. A motorist might intend to pay for petrol at a self-service station when he/she starts to fill the car’s tank but then, noticing there is a queue at the payment point, takes the opportunity to drive off to avoid queuing and paying for the petrol. He/she is guilty of making off without payment but not theft.
Handling stolen goods is an offence contrary to Section 24 of the Theft Ordinance (Chapter 210). It is committed where a person knowing or believing the goods to be stolen goods dishonestly receives them, or dishonestly undertakes or assists in their retention, removal, disposal or realisation by or for the benefit of another person, or if he arranges to do so.
Handling involves dealing with goods which have been stolen, knowing or believing them to be stolen. Handling is action after the theft, by a person other than the thief, which helps the thief. Examples include buying goods from the thief knowing or believing them to be stolen or looking after stolen property whilst the thief finds a buyer for those goods.
Dishonesty in handling has the same meaning as in theft. There must be proof that the goods in question had been stolen. Whether a person knows or believes the goods in question to be stolen goods is a question of fact in each case, which needs to be proved by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt.
Possession of dangerous drugs is an offence contrary to Section 8 of the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance (Chapter 134). It is committed where a person has dangerous drugs in his/her possession or has smoked, inhaled, ingested or injected dangerous drugs. The prosecution must prove the person knew he/she was in possession of dangerous drugs. Physical possession is not required, provided the prosecution can show the drugs were under that person’s control. This would cover the situation where a person stores drugs at a friend’s house until he/she wants to consume them.
Trafficking in dangerous drugs is an offence contrary to Section 4 of the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance (Chapter 134). It is committed where a person brings dangerous drugs into Hong Kong or causes them to be brought in, takes dangerous drugs out of Hong Kong or causes them to be taken out, supplies dangerous drugs to another person or offers to do so or possesses dangerous drugs for the purposes of supplying them to another person.
Bringing drugs into Hong Kong or taking dangerous drugs out of Hong Kong is trafficking in dangerous drugs even if the drugs are for self consumption. If the court accepts that those drugs are for self consumption a lower penalty will be imposed upon conviction.
Trafficking is committed by supplying or offering to supply drugs to another person. There is no requirement for a commercial transaction. Giving dangerous drugs to a friend as a gift, or sharing drugs with a friend, is just as much trafficking as selling those drugs to a stranger: drugs are supplied.
Obtaining property by deception is an offence contrary to Section 17 of the Theft Ordinance (Chapter 210). It is committed where property belonging to another person is dishonestly obtained from that person by deception with the intention of permanently depriving that person of the property. The offence involves telling lies which persuades someone to hand over property when, had they known the true situation, they would not have done so. An example would be using a stolen credit card or a credit card which has been cancelled by the bank, to obtain goods from a shop. Using the credit card is making a promise to the shopkeeper that the card can safely be accepted and will result in payment for the goods. Had the shopkeeper known the true position, the credit card would not have been accepted as payment for the goods. The shopkeeper is the victim of a deception. The person using the card intends to permanently deprive the shopkeeper of the goods. The goods have been dishonestly obtained by deception.
Obtaining services by deception is an offence contrary to Section 18A of the Theft Ordinance (Chapter 210). It is committed where services are dishonestly obtained. The offence involves inducing a person to confer a benefit by doing an act, or causing or permitting an act to be done on the understanding that the benefit will be paid for, whilst intending not to pay. An example might be getting someone to provide a service, for example painting a house on a promise of payment when the painting has been completed, whilst all the time intending not to pay. The person providing the service is dishonestly deceived into providing the service.
Driving without a licence is an offence contrary to Section 42 of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Chapter 374). It is committed where a person drives a vehicle on a road when not the holder of a driving licence to drive the class of vehicle in question. The Road Traffic (Driving Licences) Regulations (Chapter 374B) prevents the issue of a driving licence to persons under 18 years of age.
Driving without third party risks insurance (Driving Without Insurance) is an offence contrary to Section 4 of the Motor Vehicles Insurance (Third Party Risks) Ordinance (Chapter 272). It is committed where a person drives a vehicle on the road when not covered by an insurance policy against third party risks. A person not old enough to obtain a driving licence or a person disqualified from driving will not be covered by insurance. Similarly taking someone else’s car without consent and driving it on a road will be driving without insurance.
Driving a motor vehicle under the influence of drink or drugs is an offence contrary to Section 39 of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Chapter 374). It is committed where a person drives a motor vehicle on a road when under the influence of drink or drugs to such an extent he/she is incapable of having proper control over the vehicle. Whether this is so will depend on the circumstances of the particular case.
Dangerous driving is an offence contrary to Section 37 of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Chapter 374). It is committed when the driving of a motor vehicle on a road falls seriously below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver and it would be obvious to a careful and competent driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.
“Dangerous” refers to the danger either of injury to any person or of serious damage to property. In deciding what would be expected of a competent and careful driver in the particular case, all the circumstances must be considered. This includes, for example, the road conditions, the amount of traffic on the road and the physical condition of the driver.
Examples of dangerous driving include aggressive driving, deliberately ignoring traffic lights, road racing, overtaking against double white lines on a blind bend, driving when unfit to do so by reason of tiredness or other physical condition or driving a vehicle knowing it to be substantially defective or grossly overloaded. In practice the driver must fall seriously short of the standard expected from the reasonable and competent driver in all the circumstances of the case.
Careless driving is an offence contrary to Section 38 of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Chapter 374). It is committed when the driving falls below the minimum acceptable standard expected of a competent and careful driver. Examples of careless driving include driving too close to another vehicle, changing lanes without signaling, distraction by lighting a cigarette or tuning a car radio. As with dangerous driving all the circumstances of the case must be considered.