LEGAL EAGLE On bail because of mistake in shop

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I was recently arrested for theft of a pair of gloves. I was trying several different pairs on and decided which one to buy but then I got distracted looking for a scarf.

I left the store with the gloves still on my hands. I was stopped by a security guard, apologised and told him I would pay but she said I was a thief and called the police who arrested me, interviewed me then bailed me.

I have never been in trouble before. What is going to happen?

On the basis of what you have told me you are not guilty of theft.

The definition of theft comes from the Theft Act 1968: to be guilty of the offence you must dishonestly appropriate property belonging to another with an intention of permanently depriving them of that property.

The gloves are clearly property belonging to the clothes store and by picking up and putting them on your hands you have appropriated them, that is to say you have dealt with it as if they were yours.

The issue is likely to be whether or not you were dishonest in what you did.

The test for dishonesty is whether by the reasonable standards of ordinary and honest people what you did was dishonest and, if so, did you realise what you were doing was dishonest by those standards.

You are stating that what you did was a mistake of the sort that could happen to anybody and so it was not dishonest.

If when you answer bail you are charged you will be bailed to attend court.

On the basis of what you have told me it would be appropriate for you to enter a not guilty plea and for this matter to be listed for a trial.

At a trial it is for the prosecution to prove to the court that you are guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

This means they must prove it so that the court are sure you are guilty of the offence.

You would be able to give evidence yourself and explain to the court what happened.

Even with recent changes in the law could even choose to have this trial in front of jury at the Crown Court if you wanted to.

Depending on your financial circumstances you may be eligible for legal aid if the matter goes to court.

Certainly if you are to have a trial you should consider instructing a lawyer to represent you.