Is the theft of property while drunk be prosecuted under the law?

Is the theft of property while drunk be prosecuted under the law?
Posted date: 16/11/2023

Legal situation: My uncle, while drunk, stole a phone worth VND 10,000,000. After being requested by the phone's owner to return it, my uncle did so and did not cause any damage to the phone. So how will my uncle be punished? My uncle did not have a criminal record, and he has expressed a cooperative attitude; it's only because he was too drunk to control his behavior.


FDVN’s opinion:

Thank you for sending your question to FDVN Law Firm ("FDVN"). We did some legal research based on the information you provided and the following are our opinions regarding your question:


There are no provisions in Vietnam law removing the act caused by a person under the influence of alcohol from liability. According to Article 13 of the Criminal Code 2015 about crimes committed under the influence of alcohol or other strong stimulants, "A person who has lost his/her awareness or control of his/her acts because of the influence of alcohol or other strong stimulants still has to bear criminal responsibility."


Thus, in this case, your uncle, who stole the other person's phone while being drunk, is still liable for his act.


Depending on the value of the stolen phone, your uncle may face criminal prosecution or bear administrative liability.


Criminal Sanction:


If the stolen phone is assessed at over VND 2,000,000,  or under VND 2,000,000 but in one of the cases being prosecuted for criminal liability, your uncle may be prosecuted for Theft of property according to Article 173 of the Criminal Code 2015, as amended in 2017, specifically:


 "Article 173. Theft of property


 1. A person who steals another person's property which is assessed at from VND 2,000,000 to under VND 50,000,000 or property assessed at under VND 2,000,000 in any of the following cases shall face a penalty of up to 03 years' community sentence or 06 - 36 months' imprisonment:


a) The offender has incurred an administrative penalty for appropriation of property;


b) The offender has an unspent conviction for theft of property or any of the criminal offences specified in Article 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 174, 175 and 290 hereof;


c) The offence has a negative impact on social safety, order, and security;


d) The property stolen is the primary means of livelihood of the victim and the victim's family;


dd) The property is devise, antiquity


 2. This offence committed in any of the following cases shall carry a penalty of 02 - 07 years' imprisonment:


a) The offence is committed by an organized group;


b) The offence is committed in a professional manner;


c) The property obtained is from VND 50,000,000 to under VND 200,000,000;


d) The offender employs a deceitful method or a dangerous method to commit the offence;


dd) The offender attacks other people to escape;


e) The property stolen is assessed at from VND 2,000,000 to under VND 50,000,000 or but the offender commits the offence in any of the cases specified in Point a through d Clause 1 of this Article;


g) Dangerous recidivism.


 3. This offence committed in any of the following cases shall carry a penalty of 07 - 15 years' imprisonment:


a) The property stolen is assessed at from VND 200,000,000 to under VND 500,000,000;


b) The offender takes advantage of a natural disaster or epidemic to commit the offence.


 4. This offence committed in any of the following cases shall carry a penalty of 12 - 20 years' imprisonment:


 a) The property stolen is VND 500,000,000 or over;


b) The offender takes advantage of a war or state of emergency to commit the offence.


 5. The offender might also be liable to a fine of from VND 5,000,000 to VND 50,000,000."


 Note that property theft is considered complete when the offender has obtained the property. Compact objects (such as phones) are considered obtained when the offender has hidden such objects in his or her body, luggage,... In this case, the fact that your uncle has returned the property is considered a mitigating factor, which helps reduce the punishment (but the offense still exists).


 Administrative Sanction:


If there are not enough elements to constitute a crime, your uncle may be administratively sanctioned according to Article 15.1.a and Article 15.3 of Decree 144/2021/ND-CP of the Government:


"1. A fine of between VND 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 shall be imposed for one of the following acts:


a) Stealing property, entering residential areas, warehouses or other places under the management of others for the purpose of stealing or appropriating property;


2. Additional penalties:


a) Confiscate exhibits and means of administrative violations, for the acts specified at Points a, b, c and d Clause 1 and Points a, b, c and dd Clause 2 of this Article;


b) Deport foreigners who commit administrative violations specified in Clauses 1 and 2 of this Article.


 The above are FDVN's opinions on your matter based on the provisions of the law. Our opinions may change when additional information is provided.

We hope it's beneficial to you!


 Legal Advisor Dang Thi Anh - FDVN Law Firm



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