Theft Punishments and Fines UAE

Theft is not an uncommon word, and most of us are already familiar with the term. Theft is generally described as “the act or crime of stealing, where a person takes another’s personal property without their permission or consent with the intent to convert it to the taker’s use.” Theft as a legal term is described under Federal Law No. 3 of 1987, promulgating the penal code and its revisions (the ‘UAE penal code’) under UAE law. According to sections 399 and 405 of the UAE penal code, the crime of stealing is defined as “the intentional misappropriation of property with the intent to own property.”

Much like other crimes, UAE has a zero-tolerance policy for theft-related crimes. However, the severity of the punishment varies based on the intensity of the crime committed. Like most other countries, the UAE’s legislation clearly distinguishes between theft and the simple act of stealing. Theft is based only on the manner in which the crimes are committed. In UAE, the term theft is more similar to robbery as it combines the charge of stealing with the use of violence or compulsion to ensure that the victims leave their house or place. Moreover, because theft sometimes necessitates the use of coercion or abuse, the penalty for theft is often worse than the penalty for stealing. Below are some of the significant provisions of UAE law governing theft crimes.

Provisions of Law Governing Theft and Punishments

According to Federal Law No. 3 of 1987, anything that can be taken into custody without the permission of its owner can be theft. Thus, breaking into people’s homes, embezzling money, shoplifting, and cyber thefts are all considered theft. The provisions of UAE Penal Code Federal Law Number Three of 1987 refer to theft committed within the UAE.

Article 383

Whoever commits a theft crime under the following circumstances can be punished with life in prison:

  • Committed in the night.
  • Perpetrated by two or more people.
  • One or more perpetrators are armed.
  • The method used for theft such as a break-in, fabricated keys, impersonation, climbing the fence, etc.
  • Committed under pressure, threat, or with the use of force.

Article 384

Whoever commits a theft crime on public roads or at any means of transport (land, air or sea) can be punished with life or temporary imprisonment.

Article 388

When theft is committed by a person who is employed on the premises or to the prejudice of his employer, he can get a sentence is a minimum of five years in jail, but not more than seven years.

Article 389

Theft crimes committed in worship places, transport stations, by impersonating a public officer, etc., can be subjected to a jail term of a minimum of 1 year.

Article 395

People who abscond from a restaurant or hotel without paying the bill can be punished by a jail term of not more than 6 months and/or a fine of not more than Dh 5000.

Article 399

Whoever acquires a deed, or a signature on it, by force or threat can be sentenced to temporary jail.

Article 405

Whoever willfully misappropriated, with the intent to own, a lost item owned by someone else or if the property was in his possession by accident or by force majeure can be punished by a jail sentence of not more than two years or a fine of not more than Dh 20,000.

Other Punishments for Theft Crimes

The theft offense in UAE is classified as either a “misdemeanor” or a “felony” depending on whether it was classified as a “simple theft” or an “aggravated theft,” respectively. Simple theft may result in a one-year prison sentence or a monetary fine. In contrast, aggravated theft may result in a longer sentence of imprisonment ranging from two to fifteen years.

If the crime is classified as a felony, the following penalties may be imposed, depending on the severity of the crime. For example,

  • theft committed with deadly weapons and causing injury to others can result in a sentence of fifteen years in prison;
  • theft committed at night and with the use of weapons can result in a sentence of seven years or more in prison;
  • theft committed by an employee while ongoing employment can result in a sentence of five to seven years in prison (Article 388),
  • and a life sentence can be imposed if an extremely serious theft is committed (Article 389).

The intention to commit the crime is also important. When considering the severity of the sentence, the Courts pay special attention to the person’s intent while committing the crime. However, while the motive is frequently irrelevant in determining the offense, it may be used in determining the sentence at the discretion of the court. To put it another way, committing the crime of stealing because of a desperate necessity or circumstance will not exonerate a person from the crime. They will be held accountable even if there is no specific motive.

Final thoughts

Whether you are a victim of theft or accused of theft crime, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer in UAE. We offer strategic and aggressive defense representations in all courts of the UAE. Stealing security against a debt, such as checks, deeds, etc., is also considered theft, even if the property belongs to that person. The theft law also applies to situations such as temporary object custody. Temporary custody can include a sealed envelope belonging to another individual or a key supplied to inspect residences. Taking the things from the envelope or stealing any stuff from the apartment is deemed theft because the objects mentioned above are only in your possession for a short time.

Considering the wide scope of this law, things can get a bit confusing. You can also seek our lawyers’ guidance and connect through video or telephonic consultation for such minor cases as well.

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