Stealing Offences (Theft, Larceny, Robbery, Possession Of Stolen Goods And Break And Enter Offences)

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There are a number of different offences in NSW that relate to theft.

The offence with which a person may be charged will depend on the item that is alleged to have been stolen and the nature of the act that was involved during the theft.

The most common offences that relate to theft are larceny and robbery.

However, there are a number of other offences that may be considered, such as possession of stolen goods and break and enter offences.

Larceny

Larceny is more commonly referred to as ‘shoplifting’ or ‘stealing’ and is an offence under section 117 of the Crimes Act 1900.

Larceny is committed where a person takes and carries away an item which is capable of being stolen, without the consent of the item’s owner.

For an item to be deemed capable of being stolen it must be tangible and possess some value.

In order for a person to be found guilty of larceny, they must intend to permanently deprive the owner of the item that is alleged to have been stolen.

The offence may not be proved if the person takes the item by mistake, or the person believes that they are legally entitled to take the item (even if this belief is incorrect).

The penalty for larceny depends on the value of the property alleged to have been stolen.

The penalty may range from a fine to a term of imprisonment.

Robbery / stealing from the person

Robbery is the most serious theft-related offence in NSW.

It is an offence under section 94 of the Crimes Act 1900 to rob, or assault to rob, any person or to steal any item, money or valuable security from another person.

The key difference between robbery and larceny is that a robbery offence involves an assault.

Like larceny, the maximum penalty for robbery depends on the way the offence is committed.

The maximum penalty for a section 94 robbery is 14 years imprisonment. However, if the robbery is committed in circumstances of aggravation (for example, if the alleged offender uses violence or inflicts actual bodily harm to a person during the robbery), the maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment.

If the alleged offender is armed with a weapon, conducts the robbery ‘in company’ (ie with another person) or inflicts grievous bodily harm upon a person (before, during or immediately after the robbery), the maximum penalty climbs to 25 years imprisonment.

Receiving stolen property

It is also an offence in NSW to accept into your possession an item that has been stolen.

However, a person can only be charged with receiving stolen property if the property was stolen in a manner that can be classified as a ‘serious indictable offence’. A serious indictable offence is an offence that carries a penalty of at least five years imprisonment.

Another key element of this offence is that the accused is aware that the property in their possession has been stolen. If the prosecution cannot prove that the accused knew the property had been stolen, then the charge must fail.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment, or 12 years if the stolen property is a motor vehicle.

Break and enter

There are a number of break and enter offences outlined in Part 4 of the Crimes Act 1900. The offences are as follows:

  • Breaking out of a dwelling house after committing an indictable offence (section 109, maximum penalty 14 years).
  • Entering a dwelling house with the intention to commit an indictable offence (section 109, maximum penalty 14 years)
  • Entering a dwelling house with the intention of committing a serious indictable offence (section 111)
  • Breaking, entering and committing a serious indictable offence (section 112)
  • Breaking and entering with the intention of committing a serious indictable offence (section 113)
  • Being armed with an intention to commit an indictable offence (section 114) The offences under sections 109, 111, 112 and 113 may be committed in circumstances of aggravation, rendering an accused potentially liable for a higher penalty.

If you have been charged with a stealing offence, or require advice or representation for a criminal matter, contact Hamilton Janke Lawyers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 4038 1666.

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