Does the under £200 summary rule apply to all theft offences?

22 July 2020

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question: 

I am investigating an offence where a person has allegedly stolen money and a bank card from another and has then used the bank card for purchases.

Does the £200 summary rule apply to this offence as six months has just expired?

Answer:

Theft is an either way offence carrying a maximum penalty on indictment of seven years imprisonment and/or a fine (D1 on PNLD).

Section 22A of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 makes low-level shoplifting of stolen goods worth £200 or less a summary-only offence, while preserving the right of defendants to elect to be tried by judge and jury in the Crown Court. Section 127 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 provides that summary only offences cannot be tried unless the information is laid before the courts within six months of the offence being committed, meaning low value shop theft will be time barred by this rule.

Theft outside of a shop and in the circumstances you describe above would not be subject to this rule and therefore will not be time barred. Please see the following guidance on the Theft Act offences from the CPS:

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/theft-act-offences

Due to the method of using another's bank card to carry out the theft you may wish to consider the offence of fraud by misrepresentation under section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006 (D16754), which is also an either way offence and carries a higher penalty on indictment.

For further information on time limitations for prosecution please also see the following documents, which set out exceptions to the rules:

Time limits for prosecution of more common offences
Time limits for prosecution of less common offences

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