Theft as a crime in Hong Kong

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Theft cases per year
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Shoplifting cases per year

In Hong Kong, there are numerous theft cases being heard in Courts every day. As per the statistics provided by the Hong Kong Police Force, there are around 15,000 theft cases every year.

Theft may well be one of the oldest crime in human history. Legally speaking, a major element of this crime is a "dishonest" intent. In layman's terms, theft is caused by greed.

If you are charged with Theft, can you get away with it and not have a criminal record?

A most common form of theft is shoplifting (stealing in shops). CPH Legal handles a vast number of shoplifting cases. In cases involving relatively less severe facts, it is possible to apply via a lawyer to the DOJ for a O.N.E. Bindover order, and if successful, you will "get away" without getting a criminal record.

However, due to the prevalence of shoplifting, when you apply for a O.N.E. Bindover order, it is most important that your lawyer should set out in detail your otherwise good background and the circumstances leading up to your commission of the offence.

Common circumstances include:

  • Momentary greed
  • Waiting in a checkout queue for too long and decided to walk out of the shop
  • Financial hardship such as unemployment or mortgage payments
  • Work-related stress
  • Study-related stress
  • Psychological issues such as depression
  • Family issues

While the above are not defences, they are difficult personal circumstances leading up to your commission of theft and if the prosecutor sympathises with you, the prosecutor may exercise a discretion and agree to the O.N.E. Bindover treatment as allowed under the Prosecution Code.

Is having forgotten to pay a good reason for O.N.E. Bindover?

Having forgotten to pay is a defence because it means that you did not have any dishonest intent.

However, if you, under caution, explained to the police that you merely forgot to pay, prosecutors tend not to agree to O.N.E. Bindover, because you have denied the offence.

A major condition for the O.N.E. Bindover order is that you must admit to the prosecution's facts in Court, namely you did steal the unpaid items. It poses technical difficulties if you maintain that you simply forgot to pay.

That being said, if your lawyer is able to provide a plausible explanation or even provide strong evidence to the prosecution, then it is still possible to dispose of the case by way of O.N.E. Bindover, or even what is known as straight O.N.E. such that the prosecution would directly withdraw the charge.

If the prosecution still does not agree to O.N.E. Bindover, you still have a chance to plead not guilty in Court and contest the case. You may testify in Court or your lawyer may make submissions that you simply forgot to pay and if the Court accepts your defence that you would be acquitted.

If you or a family member are facing a theft charge, and wish to obtain urgent legal advice, apply for O.N.E. Bindover, and/or representation in Court, you can contact our WhatsApp hotline 6103 0006 or email us to set up a free WhatsApp consultation.