Criminal Law & lawful authority

Section 272 of the PCA defines robbery to the effect that any person who steals anything, and, at or immediately before or after the time of stealing it, uses or threatens to use actual violence to any person or property in order to obtain or retain the thing stolen or to prevent or overcome resistance to its being stolen or retained is guilty of robbery. In Uganda, a recent amendment to the Penal Code provides that in the case of aggravated robbery the offender "shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.

"10 It is arguable that this lays down only a maximum penalty and leaves the court with discretion to impose a lesser penalty. The point must await judicial determination. It is also provided, in Uganda, that any robbery on any public highway carries a minimum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment. Section 273 (1) of the PCA provides for that it is simple robbery while 273 (2) where a deadly weapon is used is aggravated robbery. In simple robbery any force suffices while in aggravated robbery, a deadly weapon must be used.

A deadly weapon is any instrument made or adapted for shooting, stabbing or cutting and any which if used for offensive purposes can cause death. Perhaps the key words in the offence are "uses or threatens actual violence. " Violence is defined in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary as meaning; inter alia, "The exercise of physical force so as to inflict injury on or damage to persons or property. " Provided that some injury or damage is caused, it seems that the violence need not be of any particular degree. In Uganda v.

Muhamud Nsubuga11, the accused was convicted of simple robbery under s. 272 and 273 (1) (a). the complainant while returning home met the two appellants. As he passed, the first appellant grabbed his arm. The second appellant grabbed the other arm and removed some money from him. On appeal, it was argued that the offence had not been proved since no violence had been used. It was held that in case of robbery, the prosecution must prove that force was used against the complainant against his will to remove the property from him. In Uganda v.

Owori12, the complainant was slapped and property was removed from him. It was held that this was enough violence to support a charge of simple robbery. In Wasajja v. Uganda13, it was held that once it is proved that a weapon is deadly, then using it to intimidate the victim, pointing it at him is sufficient threat in s. 273 (2). The prosecution must prove that there was a deadly weapon in the sense that it is capable of causing death. Claim of right may be a defence to robbery in certain circumstances, as where A assaults B in order to obtain payment of a debt.

But the defence will not succeed unless A honestly believes that he has a legal right to take action, and (presumably) no excessive force is used. Under Extortion, a person is guilty of a felony who: with intent to extort or gain anything from any person, and knowing the contents of the writing, causes any person to receive any writing, demanding anything from any person without reasonable and probable cause, and containing threats of any injury or detriment of any kind to be caused to any person, either by the offender or any other person, if the demand is not is complied with (demanding by written threats).

Maximum penalty is fourteen year's imprisonment. A person is guilty of a felony who with intent to extort or gain anything from any person accuses or threatens to accuse any person of committing any felony or misdemeanor or of offering or making any solicitation or threat to any person an inducement to commit or permit the commission of any felony or misdemeanor. (Attempts at extortion by threats to accuse another of a crime).

Maximum penalty is three years' imprisonment, or fourteen years' imprisonment where threat to accuse of a specified crime. A person is guilty of a felony who with intent to steal any valuable thing demands it from any person with menaces or force (demanding property with menaces). Attempts at extortion by threats to accuse another of a crime are punishable with a period of imprisonment not exceeding three years, unless the accusation concerns a specified crime.

The specified crimes include offences punishable with death or life imprisonment, offences against morality and assaults with intent to commit sodomy. Attempts at extortion by threats of accusation of these offences carry a maximum penalty of imprisonment for fourteen years. Sections 280 and 281 provide for the offences of housebreaking and burglary. Any person who breaks any part whether external or internal of a building, opens by unlocking or pulling any door or window is deemed to break the building.

Any person who breaks and enters any building used as a human dwelling with intent to commit a felony therein or having entered the building breaks out commits a felony termed housebreaking and is liable to imprisonment for seven years. If the offence is committed during day, it is called housebreaking. But if it occurs at night it is called burglary. In Uganda, the period between half-past six in the evening and half-past six in the morning is defined as night. It was held by the Court of Appeal for Eastern Africa in R. v.Damas s/o Herman14, that burglary and housebreaking are not completely different offences.

Burglary is an aggravated form of housebreaking, which carries an enhanced sentence if the addition element, commission in the night, is both charged and proved. If the time of the offence is not so charged and proved. If the time of the offence is not so charged and proved, the offence is nevertheless housebreaking, no matter at what time it may be committed. In English Law, it has been held that it is a breaking to push open an unfastened window15, but not if the window was already partly open.