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ROBBERY OFFENCES

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In New South Wales, robbery offences are serious criminal offences that may result in a criminal record and time in prison. This can have a significant long term impact on the rest of your life, from employment to your ability to obtain housing and family law proceedings. If you have been charged with robbery offences, you should seek legal advice from our law firm’s expert criminal defence lawyers.

What is robbery?

The offence of robbery is covered under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and the common law. There is no statutory definition of robbery, however, common law has established that robbery occurs when violence is done or a threat of violence is made to the owner of the property or custodian who stands between the offender and the property stolen in order to overcome the person’s resistance and oblige them to part with the property. Common law (case law) is law established through the court’s interpretation of legislation, application of previous decisions, etc.

Robbery also includes the offence of sacrilege and housebreaking offences. Both offences have multiple categories and serious offences.  

There are a number of offences that make up the offence of robbery. They include:

  • Robbery or stealing from the person
  • Robbery in the circumstances of aggravation
  • Robbery in the circumstances of wounding
  • Robbery etc or stopping a mail, being armed, or in company
  • Robbery with arms etc and wounding
  • Demanding property with intent to steal
  • Breaking out of dwelling house after committing, or entering with intent to commit an indictable offence
  • Breaking, entering and assaulting with intent to murder etc 
  • Enter dwelling house
  • Breaking etc into any house etc and committing serious indictable offences
  • Breaking etc into any house etc and intending to commit a serious indictable offence
  • Being armed with intent to commit a serious indictable offence

The offence of larceny is covered separately. Click on the Criminal Law link above.

Terminology

There are a number of terms specific to robbery offences.

  • Chattel:

An item of personal property that is tangible and capable of being moved e.g chair, jewellery, etc.

  • Dangerous weapon: 

A firearm, or an imitation firearm, or

A prohibited weapon, or

A speargun

An imitation firearm is an object that, regardless of its colour, weight, or composition, or the presence or absence of moveable parts substantially duplicates the appearance of a firearm but is not a firearm. Imitation firearms are dealt with in the same as actual firearms.

A prohibited weapon includes knives, military-style weapons, spear guns, crossbows, slingshots, Saunders ‘Falcon’ Hunting Sling, blow gun or blow pipe, dart, Farallon Shark Dart, dart projector, mace, flail, whip, cat-o-nine-tails, kung fu sticks or nun chucks, side handled baton, extendable or telescopic baton, taser, knuckle dusters, slap glove, studded glove, defence or anti personnel spray, acoustic or light emitting anti-personnel device, imitations and concealed blades, walking sticks, canes, riding crop, Bowen knife belt, body armour vests, handcuffs, silencers, detachable firearms magazines, tier deflation device, caltrop, laser pointes.

  • Dwelling-house:

Any building or other structure intended for occupation as a dwelling and capable of being so occupied, even if it has never been occupied,

A boat or vehicle in which any person resides,

Any building or other structure within the same area as a dwelling-house, and occupied or whose use is attached to the occupation of the dwelling-house.

  • Exceptional circumstances:

Exceptional circumstances are considered on a case by case basis. There is no defined set of circumstances that would be considered exceptional. An example that has been considered by the courts is where you have substantially assisted authorities.

  • Grievous bodily harm

The destruction of the foetus of a pregnant woman (except for medical purposes), whether or not she suffers any harm, and

Any permanent or serious disfiguring of a person, and

Any grievous bodily disease.

  • Offensive weapon or instrument

A dangerous weapon, or 

Any thing that is made or adapted for offensive purposes, or

Any thing that, in the circumstances, is used, intended for use or threatened to be used for offensive purposes, whether or not it is ordinarily used for offensive purposes or is capable of causing harm.

  • Serious indictable offence:

An offence punishable by more than 5 years imprisonment.

  • Valuable security:

Shares in stocks, bank deposits, bonds, bills, warrants, deeds, etc.

What needs to be proven?

The prosecution must prove the elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of the offence have been set out below.

The courts also look to the mind of a reasonable person in the circumstances. The reasonable person is a hypothetical person who exercises average care, skill and judgment in their conduct. When determining the mind of a reasonable person, self-induced intoxication won’t be taken into consideration.

The common law has established that when you commit the act, you also need to have intent. Intent is proven if:

You know the circumstances which make the doing of the act an offence, or

You do not believe honestly and reasonably that the circumstances you are innocent. 

In other words, the prosecution must prove that you committed the act alleged and that you intended to commit the act, knowing that it was unlawful. 

If you plead guilty at the earliest possible opportunity, you may be entitled to a 25% reduction in your sentence. However, you should not plead guilty until you have obtained legal advice.

Robbery offences

Robbery or stealing from the person

If you:

Rob or assault anyone with the intent to rob, or

Steal any chattel (personal property), money or personal security (e.g. stocks, bank accounts, etc),

You are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years imprisonment.

If you commit this offence under aggravating circumstances, the maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment. 

Aggravating circumstances include:

Using corporal violence on any person, 

Intentionally or recklessly inflicting actual bodily harm on any person, 

Depriving a person of their liberty.

If you commit this offence and wound or cause grievous bodily harm to another person, the maximum penalty is 25 years imprisonment.

This is the only robbery offence that can be dealt with summarily. It is up to the discretion of the prosecution whether your matter will be prosecuted summarily or on indictment. If your matter is dealt with summarily in the Local Court, it will be prosecuted by a Police Prosecutor. If it is dealt with on indictment, it will be prosecuted by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). See below for Local Court sentencing options.

If your robbery charge is dealt with summarily:

If the value of the property or thing stolen exceeds $5,000, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment or a fine of $11,000,

If the value of the property or thing is stolen is less than $5,000, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment, a fine of $5,500 or both,

If the value of the property or thing is stolen is less than $2,000, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment, a fine of $2,200 or both.

 

Robbery etc or stopping a mail, being armed or in company (armed robbery)

If you are armed with an offensive weapon or instrument, and you are in the company of another person and you:

Rob, or assault with intent to rob any person, or 

Stop any mail, or vehicle or railway train, or person carrying mail with the intent to rob or search them,

You are guilty of an offence. 

The maximum penalty for this offence is 20 years imprisonment.

If you commit this offence under aggravating circumstances (aggravated armed robbery) and you are armed with a dangerous weapon, the maximum penalty is 25 years imprisonment. 

 

Robbery with arms etc and wounding

If you are:

Armed with an offensive weapon or instrument, and 

You are in the company of another person, and

You rob or assault with the intention to rob any person, and

Immediately before or after such a robbery or assault, you wound or cause grievous bodily harm to that person,

You are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 25 years imprisonment.

The non-parole period for this offence is 7 years.

 

Demanding property with the intent to steal

If you demand any property by menace or force with the intent to steal, you are guilty of an offence. 

The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

If you commit this offence in the company of another person, the maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment. 

It does not matter if you are the person who menaces or causes injury to another person, only that you were in the company of someone who does.

Sacrilege and housebreaking offences

Aggravating circumstances include:

Being armed with an offensive weapon or instrument

Being in the company of another person

Using corporal violence on any person

Intentionally or recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm

Depriving any person of their liberty

Knowing there are one or more persons in the place where the offence is alleged to have been committed.

  • Special aggravation includes:
    Intentionally wounding or intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm on anyone
    Causing grievous bodily harm and being reckless as to causing grievous bodily harm on that person
    Being armed with a dangerous weapon.
  • Breaking out of dwelling-house after committing, or entering with intent to commit an indictable offence

If you enter a dwelling-house of another person, with the intention to commit a serious indictable offence, or

You are in a dwelling-house and commit a serious indictable offence while there, and

You break out of that dwelling-house,

You are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years imprisonment.

If you commit this offence under aggravating circumstances, the maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment.

If you commit this offence under special aggravating circumstances, the maximum penalty is 25 years imprisonment.

 

Breaking, entering and assaulting with intent to murder

If you break and enter into any dwelling-house, or any building belonging to that dwelling-house and you assault one more occupant with the intent to murder them or you inflict grievous bodily harm on them, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 25 years imprisonment.

 

Entering dwelling-house

If you enter a dwelling-house with the intention of committing a serious indictable offence, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

If you commit this offence under aggravating circumstance, the maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment.

If you commit this offence under special aggravating circumstances, the maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment.

 

Breaking etc into any house etc and committing serious indictable offences 

If you:

Break and enter any dwelling-house or other building and you commit a serious indictable offence, or

While in a dwelling-house or the building you commit a serious indictable offence and break out of that dwelling-houser other building,

You are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years imprisonment.

If you commit this offence under aggravating circumstance, the maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment. The maximum non parole period is 5 years.

If you commit this offence under special aggravating circumstance, the maximum penalty is 25 years imprisonment. The maximum non parole period is 7 years.

 

Breaking etc into any house etc with intent to commit serious indictable offences

If you break into and enter any dwelling-house or other building with intent to commit a serious indictable offence, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

If you commit this offence under aggravating circumstance, the maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment.

If you commit this offence under special aggravating circumstances, the maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment.

 

Being armed with intent to commit indictable offences

If you:

Are armed with any weapon, or instrument with the intent to commit an indictable offence,

You have in your possession, without lawful excuse, any housebreaking or safe breaking implement or any implement capable of being used to enter or drive or enter and drive a conveyance,

You have your face blackened or otherwise disguised, or you have in possession the means of blacking or otherwise disguising your face, with the intent to commit an indictable offence,

You enter or remain in or on any part of a building or land occupied or used in connection therewith with the intention to commit an indictable offence in or on the building,

You are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 7 years imprisonment.

If you have a previous criminal conviction for an indictable offence and you subsequently commit this offence, the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment.

Summary Court Process (Local Court):

STEP 1

Seek Legal Representation

Contact Jameson Law for a free initial consultation. Don’t leave it to the last minute, as we need time to collect support evidence, statements and character references.

STEP 1

STEP 2

Mention Hearing

This is the first court date for your matter. It essentially brings it to the attention of the court. You can plead guilty at this stage after receiving legal advice and the matter will be finalised. If you plead not guilty, the court will adjourn your matter and set another court date. The court will set a date for each party to produce their evidence (brief mention)

STEP 2

STEP 3

Brief Mention

Each party must produce their evidence to the court and each other. Another court date will be set for hearing

STEP 3

STEP 4

Hearing

Both parties will present their argument to the court. The court will make its decision and issue a sentence where appropriate.

STEP 4

Indictable Court Process (District Court or Supreme Court):

STEP 1

Seek Legal Representation

Contact Jameson Law for a free initial consultation. Don’t leave it to the last minute, as we need time to collect support evidence, statements and character references.

STEP 1

STEP 2

Bail

Contact Jameson Law for a free initial consultation. Don’t leave it to the last minute, as we need time to collect support evidence, statements and character references.

STEP 2

STEP 3

Committal hearing

This a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial. If there isn’t enough evidence, that is the end of the matter. If there is enough evidence, the matte is adjourned and a new court date is set.

STEP 3

STEP 4

Case conferences

May take place between the committal and the trial

STEP 4

STEP 5

Trial

Both parties will present their argument to the court. This can take a number of weeks or months depending on the seriousness of the matter and the number of charges. The jury will make a determination of guilt. If they find you guilty, the court will adjourn and a new date set for sentencing. This gives the judge an opportunity to review the evidence and work out the most appropriate sentence. The court may ask for additional information to inform sentencing such as pre-sentencing reports from Corrective Services, etc.

STEP 5

STEP 6

Sentencing

The judge will hand down his or her sentence and their reasons for the decision. 

STEP 6

Sentencing options available in the Local Court:

These sentencing options are only available for the offence of robbery or stealing from the person. All other robbery offences are dealt with by indictment are heard in the District Court or Supreme Court depending on additional charges, seriousness, etc. 

Section 10:

A section 10 is the best possible outcome in the event the court finds you guilty of a robbery offence. There are three orders available to the court under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing and Procedure) Act where the court believes it is inappropriate to further punish an offender. 

  • Section 10 (1) (a)- dismissal with no conviction recorded
  • Section 10 (1) (b)- dismissal with no conviction on conditions set by the court. For example, not to commit an offence for a period of two years 
  • Section 10 (1) (c)- dismissal with no conviction on the condition that the offender enters into an intervention program. For example drug and alcohol counselling. 

A section 10 is an acknowledgement of the court that you have committed an offence, however, the court is satisfied that it is out of character and you are unlikely to continue offending. It’s the court’s way of giving you a second chance.

Before granting a section 10, the court will consider:

  • Your criminal record. 
  • Your character, antecedents, age, heath and mental condition, etc
  • The trivial nature of the offence
  • Extenuating circumstances that lead to the offence being committed 
  • Any other matter the court considers relevant

Intensive Correction Order:

Intensive Corrections Orders are an option available to the court where a sentence of imprisonment is imposed on the condition that a defendant is of good behaviour and agrees to supervision by a community corrections officer rather than go to prison. 

Additional conditions that may be imposed by the court include:

  • home detention
  • electronic monitoring
  • curfew
  • community service (up to 750 hours)
  • participation in rehabilitation or treatment programs, for example drug treatment/counselling
  • no drugs or alcohol
  • refrain from certain relationships/associations, for example drug dealer, etc.
  • ban from certain locations

Community Correction Order:

Community Corrections Orders are similar to Intensive Corrections Orders. The main exception being that a defendant needs to make themselves available to attend court at any time the court requires.

Conditional Release Order:

A Conditional Release Order is similar to an Intensive Corrections Order or Community Corrections Order. A Conditional Release Order can be issued with or without a conviction recorded.

Section 32:

A section 32 is a diversionary option available under the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990 (NSW). If a defendant is, or at the time the offence of robbery occurred:

  • cognitively impaired
  • suffering from mental illness
  • suffering from a mental condition for which treatment is available in a mental health facility

The options available to a magistrate under a section 32 include:

  • adjourning the matter
  • granting the defendant bail
  • any other order the magistrate deems appropriate
  • dismissing the charges and discharging the defendant into the care of a responsible person (e.g. a parent) on the condition they attend a specified place for assessment or treatment.

Disclaimer

The above is general legal information and should not be considered legal advice. You should speak with one of our criminal lawyers for legal advice tailored to your specific legal matter. The penalties listed are maximum penalties. The courts deal with matters on a case by case basis. It should also be noted that there may be court delays due to COVID-19.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Robbery is similar to larceny in that it involves the taking of property without the consent of the owner and with the intention of depriving the owner of the property. However, robbery involves that taking of the property directly from the person, usually under aggravating circumstance e.g. use of a weapon.

Yes. Example of defences may include:

If you honestly and reasonably believed you have a legal right to the property 

You have the permission of the property owner

You were under duress or coerced i.e. acting under the threat of violence to yourself or others 

Contact our office to discuss your matter with our expert criminal lawyers.

The courts take into consideration the offender’s youth, criminal record, cooperation with authorities, early guilty plea, rehabilitation efforts, committing an offence on bail/parole.

For armed robbery offences, the courts specifically look at, the nature of the weapon, vulnerability of the victim, position on a scale of impulsiveness/planning, intensity of threat/actual use of force, number of offenders, amount taken and effect on victim.

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