Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dishonesty is a term which in common usage may be defined as the act of being dishonest; to act without honesty; a lack of probity, to cheat, lying or being deliberately deceptive; lacking in integrity; to be knavish, perfidious, corrupt or treacherous; charlatanism or quackery.
Dishonesty is the fundamental component of a majority of offences relating to the acquisition, conversion and disposal of property (tangible or intangible) defined in the criminal law.
Dishonesty in law is more complex and subject to a number of incomplete and unsatisfactory definitions. This is because such are the variety of circumstances in which dishonesty may occur that creating an over-arching definition is virtually impossible.
For many years English law was torn between two often conflicting contentions. The first contention was that the definitions of dishonesty (such as those within the terms of the Theft Act 1968) described a course of action whereas the second contention was that the definition described a state of mind.
The case that is now seen as being the point at which these contentions were set aside and a clear test drawn up was that of R. -v- Ghosh 1982 (Regina - the Crown - versus Ghosh)(75 CR App R 154), which was heard before the Court of Appeal in 1982.
The Court of Appeal held that the definitions clearly described a state of mind and that overall, the test that must be applied is a subjective one which must "look into the mind" of the person concerned and establish his motives.
Dishonesty must therefore incorporate an element of pre-meditation or Mens rea. Courts have to ask themselves: "Were the person's actions honest according to the standards of reasonable and honest people?" If it is decided that they were, then that is the end of the matter. If however the Court decides that the actions were dishonest then they must ask themselves the further question: "Did the person concerned believe that what he did was dishonest at the time?"
The decision of whether a particular action or set of actions is dishonest remains separate from the issue of moral justification. For example, when Robin Hood robbed the Sheriff of Nottingham he knew that he was, in effect, stealing from the Crown, was acting dishonestly and would have been properly convicted of Robbery. His argument would have been that he was morally justified in acting in this way but in modern legal terms this could only have been brought to the Court by way of mitigation and would not have affected the inference of dishonesty.
Further definitions - Theft Act 1968
Section 2 of the Theft Act 1968 rather than defining what dishonesty is, describes what it is not, thus:
1. A personís appropriation of property belonging to another is not to be regarded as dishonest:
(a) if he appropriates the property in the belief that he has in law the right to deprive the other of it, on behalf of himself or of a third person; or
(b) if he appropriates the property in the belief that he would have the otherís consent if the other knew of the appropriation and the circumstances of it; or
(c) (except where the property came to him as trustee or personal representative) if he appropriates the property in the belief that the person to whom the property belongs cannot be discovered by taking reasonable steps.
2. A personís appropriation of property belonging to another may be dishonest notwithstanding that he is willing to pay for the property.
- Academic dishonesty
- English law
- Theft in English law
- Robbery in English Law
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