To be convicted of Theft, a number of elements need to be proven- that a person dishonestly took property belonging to someone else with the intention of not returning it to its rightful owner.

The maximum sentence in Theft cases is seven years’ imprisonment. In reality, cases will be heard by Magistrates unless they are of particularly high value or seriousness.


As with Theft, a number of things have to be established. A person must have entered a property as a trespasser, with the intention of committing a theft (or indeed another offence such as criminal damage)

For cases of domestic burglary, the maximum sentence is 14 years’ imprisonment.


An offence of Robbery is committed when a person uses force or the threat of force in order to steal.

Making Off Without Payment

This is when a person knows payment is required for goods or services, and dishonestly makes off without paying.

For example, if a person fills their vehicle with fuel and suddenly realises that they cannot pay, they should complete a No Means to Pay form, and pay within 48 hours. If a person merely fills up and drives off without attempting to pay or speak to petrol station staff, they commit this offence, under s.3 of the Theft Act.

The maximum sentence in the Magistrates’ Court is six months imprisonment, and two years’ imprisonment in the Crown Court.

Taking a Vehicle without Consent

This offence is governed by s.12 of the Act, and relates to the unauthorised use of a vehicle- whether you intend to return it or not. If convicted, a person can be sentenced to a maximum of six months imprisonment and/or a fine.

If classed as aggravated taking, the penalties are much more severe. The maximum custodial sentence is two years and/or an unlimited fine.

If you are convicted of taking without consent, you could face up to six months’ imprisonment and a fine. For aggravated taking, the maximum sentence is two years’ imprisonment, a minimum 12-month driving ban, an unlimited fine and between three and 11 penalty points.

Cases are dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court, with a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding £2,500. A conviction may of course also result in a driving ban.

Contact Harrison Bundey

Telephone: 0113 200 7400
Emergency 24 hour arrest helpline: 0113 399 6181

It is vital that you do not make any comments to the arresting Officer about the allegation. Do not struggle or resist the Police. It can only make matters worse. As soon as you arrive at the Police Station, tell the Custody Sergeant that you wish have Harrison Bundey or Ison Harrison contacted as soon as possible in order that we can represent you.

No. Every single person in the country is entitled to free representation when being questioned about an alleged offence by a Police Officer.

Contact us as soon as possible to let us know what time and date you are to appear at Court and to call to see us for an initial discussion. The sooner we know the better prepared you – and we – will be.

Some cases are deemed to be so minor that they can only ever be dealt with at the Magistrates Court. Equally, some very serious offences can only ever be dealt with at the Crown Court. There are a large number of offences which fall between these two extremes and which could be dealt with at either Court. These are called “either way” offences. The Magistrates can decide to allocate either way cases to the Crown Court but, where the Magistrates say that they are happy to deal with the case themselves, you can still choose to have your case sent to the Crown Court. We can advise you about the advantages and disadvantages of either course.

The Police can stop and search if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person might have drugs, a weapon, or stolen property on their person. You can be stopped without reasonable grounds if it has been approved by a senior police officer. This will be approved if it is suspected you’re carrying a weapon, or serious violence could take place. There are also powers to stop and search in certain circumstances under the Terrorism Act 2000: police can stop and search individuals without a need for reasonable suspicion if there is a general reasonable belief that incidents involving serious violence might take place or that people might be carrying dangerous instruments or offensive weapons.

The Police can search premises in a number of different situations. A search is lawful, for example, where a Magistrates Court has issued a warrant justifying such a search. The Police can also lawfully search premises where a person has been arrested and where a Police Inspector is of the view that there are grounds to believe that items relevant to the offence under investigation or to any other offence might be found at the premises. The Police can also search premises where a person has been arrested or where an arrest is made where a person has been seen to leave the premises.

The Police have initial powers to detain someone at a Police Station for up to 24 hours after the person’s arrival at the Police Station. In cases that could end up before a Crown Court where a charge is brought, a Police Superintendent can authorise detention at the Police Station for up to 36 hours and, thereafter a Magistrates Court can authorise detention to a maximum of 96 hours (4 days). Much longer detention can be authorised where a person is detained under the Terrorism Acts.

Police can grant an RUI, Released Under Investigation when they wish to conduct further enquiries or where the police are awaiting a charging decision from the Crown Prosecution Service. This means that police have further work to do on your matter before presenting it to Crown Prosecution Service. With an RUI, you will not be given specific conditions- but should refrain from contacting any persons involved with the matter.

A person released on police bail is obliged to return to the Police Station at the time given to them by the Police. Any failure to return for the police bail appointment can result in a conviction for failing to answer bail and can lead to a fine or to a period of imprisonment. The Police can release a person on police bail subject to bail conditions. Any failure to abide by the bail conditions can also lead to re-arrest.

At the point at which a person is charged, the Custody Sergeant is obliged to consider whether the person should be released on bail to appear at Court at a later date or whether the person should be detained in police custody to be brought before a Magistrates Court. The Custody Sergeant at the Police Station has to take into account such factors as the seriousness of the case, a person’s record in respect of any previous cases and periods on bail, the likelihood of any further offences being committed, the risk that the person being charged might fail to appear at Court to answer bail and, in certain circumstances for the person’s own protection. The Police are not allowed to release anyone on bail who has been charged with an offence of Murder. If the Police do decide to keep a person in custody after charge, the person will be able to make an application for bail before the Magistrates Court other than, as said above, in a case of murder.

Yes, we represent people of any age. It is particularly important for those aged under 18 to have representation so that the Police can be held to account and the young person dealt with speedily and fairly. Anyone aged under 18 is also supported in custody by an appropriate adult, usually a parent or other close relative.

During normal office hours Monday – Friday, we can be contacted on 0113 200 7400. If you need to contact us at night or weekends and it is an emergency you should ring 0113 399 6181. Please bear in mind that this is an emergency arrest helpline and should be used only for calls about people who have actually been arrested.

As soon as you receive a summons you should contact us immediately to give us the details of your scheduled court appearance. We can give you some initial advice and make the necessary arrangements to represent you at Court.

This depends on whether you are financially eligible, and how severe the case is. If you have a disposable income and earn above a certain amount, you may be disqualified from legal aid. For very minor criminal offences you are unlikely to be granted legal aid, unless there are other circumstances which would entitle you to get legal aid.

There is a process of appealing against refusal for legal aid.

This depends on the severity of the case, and how long the case lasts. A preliminary meeting will discuss estimated costs, in certain circumstances it may be agreeable to negotiate a fixed fee and agree payment terms.

The Crown Prosecution Service deals with criminal law for the police and government, and solicitors with criminal contracts with the Legal Aid Agency. Cases start in the magistrate’s court; some offences are tried in either the Magistrate’s Court or in the Crown Court. Some offences can only be tried in the Crown Court although the proceedings are commenced in the magistrate’s court. Minor offences are heard in Magistrates, and serious cases will be heard in Crown Court. This all depends on severity of case.

In the crown court you will need to make an application for legal aid to claim back any costs even though the application may have been refused. If you are found not guilty we can apply for these costs to be refunded, but you may not receive a full refund of the costs.

The court allows you to pay fines or costs awarded against you by instalments, depending on your income.

In the Magistrates Court your case will be decided by Magistrates. In the Crown Court, the case is decided by a Jury of ordinary people.

In some minor cases for example some motoring offences, you can plead guilty by letter. This is permitted only if you give sufficient information in relation to your finances for the court to deal with the case. In most cases however you have to attend court.