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STEALING / LARCENY OFFENCES

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Stealing (otherwise known as the offence of larceny) is the unlawful taking and carrying away of someone else’s personal property with the intention to permanently deprive the owner. If you have been arrested and charged with larceny offences, you should contact our law firm to arrange a free consultation with one of our expert criminal lawyers.

In New South Wales, larceny is covered under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and the common law (laws made by the courts around the interpretation of legislation, etc). The prosecution has the discretion to prosecute larceny offences as a summary offence or an indictable offence. This will be dependent on the seriousness of the larceny offence, for example, aggravating matters, your prior criminal record, the value of the items stolen, the quantity stolen, etc.

The prosecution must prove all elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. However, pleading guilty at the earliest possible opportunity, you may be entitled to a 25% reduction in your sentence.

The intention of returning the property at a later time is not a defence to larceny charges.

What do I have to do?

When you are served with a Court Attendance Notice you should seek legal advice quickly. The sooner you act, the sooner your matter will be disposed of!

 

Categories of larceny?

Larceny includes a number of categories with a range of penalties. The categories are set out below. It should be noted that embezzlement is a category of larceny, however, has been given a separate link above under criminal law.

  • Fraudulent appropriation

If you fraudulently appropriate (take control over) property for your use or the use of another person, even if you didn't intend to, or

You fraudulently retain property to secure a reward for its restoration,

You are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 2 years imprisonment, a fine of $2,200 or both

  • Larceny by bailee

A bailee is someone who receives personal property from another person as a bailment. A bailment is a delivery of personal property by the bailor to the bailee for certain purpose under an express or implied contract. For example, leaving your car with a mechanic for repairs. The possession of property changes but not the ownership.

If you are a bailee and you fraudulently take or convert any property or any part of it, etc, for your own use or the use of another person who is not the owner of the property, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years imprisonment.

  • Stealing cattle or killing cattle with intent

The theft of cattle is a serious issue in regional Australia with police establishing a task force and crime prevention initiatives to deal with it.

If you steal cattle or wilfully kill cattle to steal their carcass, skin or any other part of the carcass you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence when dealt with by the Local Court is 6 months imprisonment, a fine of $550 or both.

The maximum penalty for this offence on indictment is 14 years imprisonment.

  • Unlawfully using etc another person's cattle

If you take and work, or take for the purpose of working or using any cattle belonging to another person without the owner's consent, or the person in lawful possession of the cattle; or

Take cattle for the purpose of secreting the same, or obtaining a reward for the restoration or pretend finding, or any other fraudulent purpose; or 

Fraudulently brand, or ear-mark, or defaces, or alters the ear-marks of any cattle belonging to another person;

You are guilty of an offence. The maximum penalty for this offence is 3 years imprisonment.

  • Stealing dogs

If you steal any dog or unlawfully have in your possession a stolen dog or the skin of a stolen dog, knowing the dog has been stolen, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence when dealt with by the Local Court is 6 months imprisonment, a fine of $550 or both.

The maximum penalty for this offence is on indictment is 1 year imprisonment.

  • Taking money to restore dogs

If you corruptly take money or a reward either directly or indirectly under the pretence of assisting another person to recover a dog that has been stolen, you are guilty of an offence.  

The maximum penalty for this offence is 1 year imprisonment

In a nutshell:

It is a criminal offence to steal dogs and cattle, their carcasses, alter ear-markings or brand cattle. Contact our for a free initial consultation.

  • Stealing, destroying, etc valuable security

Examples of a valuable security include: shares in stocks, bank deposits, bonds, bills, warrants, deeds, etc.

If you steal, embezzle, destroy, cancel, obliterate, cancel or conceal the whole or any part of valuable security, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years imprisonment.

  • Stealing, destroying, etc, wills or codicils 

A will is a document stating a how a person wants their estate to be distributed upon their death.

A codicil is an attachment to the will that modifies or explains the will.

A testamentary document is a document of or relating to a will.

If you steal, destroy, cancel, obliterate, cancel or conceal the whole or any part of a will, codicil or any other testamentary document, either during the life of the testator or after their death-dealing with real estate or personal property, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 7 years imprisonment. 

  • Stealing, destroying, etc records, etc, of any court or public office

If you steal, or for any fraudulent purpose take from its place of deposit or from the lawful custody of another person; or 

Unlawfully and intentionally or recklessly cancel, obliterate, injury or destroy the record in whole or in part any record, document or writing of or belonging to the courts or relating to any matter or cause (civil or criminal) that is pending or terminated by a court or relating to the business or employment of public office,

You are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 7 years imprisonment.

In a nutshell:

It is an offence to steal or in some way destroy wills, codicils, valuable securities such as deeds, and court records. The maximum penalty ranges from five years to 7 years imprisonment.

  • Stealing, etc metal, glass, wood, etc fixed to house or land

If you steal, rip, cut, sever, or break with intent to steal, any glass or woodwork belonging to any building, or

Any metal, any utensil, or fixture whether made of metal or other material, or of both respectively fixed in or on to any building, or anything made of metal fixed in any land being private property, or used as a fence to a dwelling-house, garden or area or a square, street, place dedicated to use or ornament or burial ground, 

You are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years imprisonment.

  • Stealing, etc, trees etc in pleasure grounds, etc

If you steal, destroy or damage with intent to steal the whole or any part of a tree, shrub, plant or underwood growing in any park, pleasure-ground, garden, orchard, or avenue in any ground belonging to any dwelling-house where the value of the property stolen or the amount of injury involved exceeds $2.00, or

If you conduct the above activity in an area not stated and the value of the property exceeds $10.00, 

You are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence when dealt with by the Local Court is 6 months imprisonment, a fine of $550 or both.

The maximum penalty for this offence dealt with on indictment is 5 years imprisonment.

If you steal any property in a dwelling-house, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 7 years imprisonment.

If you steal any property in a dwelling-house and then use that property to threaten or menace any person, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years imprisonment.

If you steal any goods, articles or material to the value of $1.00 while place, or exposed during the process or progress of manufacture, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 3 years imprisonment.

If you sell, pawn, embezzle, exchange, fraudulently dispose, etc the manufacturing materials you have stolen, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 4 years imprisonment.

If you steal any property from any vessel, barge, or boat while it is in haven or port, or steal from a dock, wharf or quay, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 7 years imprisonment.

If you steal or plunder any property to the value of $2.00 from any part of a ship in distress, stranded, wreck or cast ashore, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence when dealt with by the Local is 6 months imprisonment, a fine of $550 or both plus returning the items to the owner of the property.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

If you are a tenant or occupier of a house, building or lodging and you steal a chattel (moveable or transferrable property e.g. chair, rug, etc) or fixture you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years imprisonment.

  • Taking a conveyance without the consent of the owner (e.g. car theft)

A conveyance is any cart, wagon, cab, carriage, motor vehicle, caravan, trailer, motor lorry, tractor, earthmoving equipment, omnibus, motor or other bicycle, tank or other military vehicle, or any ship or vessel used or intended for navigation.

If you take a conveyance without the consent of the owner or person with lawful possession, and drive or take with intention of driving, or secreting it, or obtaining a reward for the restoration or pretend restoration, or for any fraudulent purpose, or

If you know that a conveyance has been taken without the consent of the owner any you drive it or allow yourself to be a passenger in it, 

You are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years imprisonment.

  • Stealing aircraft and unlawfully taking or exercising control of aircraft

This section refers to the taking of an aircraft without consent. Additional Commonwealth charges relating to terrorism may apply to the unlawful taking of an aircraft.

If you steal an aircraft, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

If you unlawfully take or exercise control of an aircraft, even through another person, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 7 years imprisonment.

If you unlawfully take or exercise control of an aircraft with another person onboard not an accomplice, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years imprisonment.

If you unlawfully take or exercise control of an aircraft through the use of violence or the threat of violence, etc, and another person who is not an accomplice is on board, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 20 years imprisonment.

  • Taking motor vehicle or vessel with assault or with occupant on board (e.g. carjacking)

If you assault another person with the intent to take a motor vehicle or vessel, without the consent of the owner or person in possession of it and you drive it or take it to drive it, or

If you commit the above offence with another person, not an accomplice, in or on the vehicle,

You are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

If you commit the above offence under aggravating circumstances, the maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment. Aggravating circumstances include:

Offending in the company of another person

Being armed with an offensive weapon or instrument

You intentionally or recklessly inflict actual bodily harm an another person.

  • Stealing motor vehicle, vessel or tailer

If you steal a motor vehicle, vessel or trailer, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

  • Facilitating organised car, boat or trailer rebirthing activities

Rebirthing activities means:

Stealing a motor vehicle, boat or trailer, or receiving a stolen motor vehicle, boat or trailer, or

The interference with a motor vehicle, boat or trailer or part thereof or the unique identifier for the purpose of concealing the fact it's stolen, or

Affixing stolen parts to a motor vehicle, boat or trailer, or

The interference with the unique identifier of a motor vehicle, boat or trailer, or

Registering a stolen vehicle, boat or trailer or registering a vehicle, boat or trailer that has stolen parts affixed to it.

If you carry out rebirthing activities on an organised basis knowing it is a rebirthing activity and that it is carried out on an organised basis,

You are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years imprisonment.

  • Making, using and interfering with unique identifiers

If you dishonestly interfere with or copy a unique identifier, or

Possess a motor vehicle, boat or trailer or part thereof with the intention of dishonestly interfering with or copying a unique identifier, or

Dishonestly make a unique identifier, or

Knowingly incite another person to accept the information in the unique identifier when the information isn't genuine

You are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 7 years imprisonment.

  • Possession of motor vehicle, vessel or trailer where unique identifier has been interfered with

If you are in possession of a motor vehicle, vessel or trailer that has an altered unique identifier, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years imprisonment.

  • Possession of identification plate not attached to motor vehicle or trailer 

 If you are in possession of an identification plate that is not attached to that motor vehicle, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years imprisonment.

In a nutshell:

Stealing a conveyance, interfering with unique identifiers, rebirthing a conveyance, etc are serious offences with penalties ranging from 5 to 14 years imprisonment. Seek legal advice ASAP by contacting our office for a free initial consultation from our team of experts.

Receiving stolen goods

Receiving stolen goods is also considered a larceny offence and is considered to be just as serious as the larceny 

  • Receiving stolen property where stealing a serious indictable offence

If you receive, dispose of or attempt to dispose of any property where the stealing amounts to a serious indictable offence knowing it is stolen, you will be prosecuted on indictment as an accessory after the fact.

If the property is a motor vehicle, vessel or trailer or part thereof, the maximum penalty is 12 months imprisonment.

If the property is any other property, the maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

If the person who stole the property is guilty of a minor indictable offence, the maximum penalty is three years imprisonment.

  • Receiving, etc goods stolen outside of NSW

If you receive, dispose of or attempt to dispose of property that has been stolen outside of NSW and you know it has been stolen, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

  • Receiving, etc cattle unlawfully killed, or carcasses, etc

If you receive, dispose of or attempt to dispose of cattle, their carcass, etc unlawfully killed or stolen, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years imprisonment (the same as if you had stolen it yourself).

  • Receiving materials or tools for manufacture

If you receive goods, articles, materials tools or apparatus for manufacturing knowing it has been stolen, etc, you are guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 4 years imprisonment.

The Court Process for stealing / larceny offences

STEP 1

Service of Court Attendance Notice

This is where police serve you with a Court Attendance Notice (CAN). This may be done at the police station if you are detained, or at your home. Seek legal representation from an expert criminal lawyer immediately.

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

Representations

If you enter a plea of guilty, you are entitled to make representations to the police to drop some or all charges based on lack of evidence or overcharging. If you bring on a Solicitor early in your case, they are able to do this early on and try to get some or all charges dropped before you get to this stage.

STEP 3

STEP 4

Brief mention

Each party must produce their evidence to the court and each other. Another court date will be set for hearing. Your legal team should have prepared supporting evidence and character references to support your case.

STEP 4

STEP 5

Hearing

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

STEP 5

STEP 6

Court of Appeal

If you are dissatisfied with the Outcome, speak to a Solicitor about your prospects of filing an appeal in the Court of Appeal.

STEP 6

Sentencing options available in the Local Court

Section 10:

A section 10 is the best possible outcome in the event the court finds you guilty of a larceny 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.

  • Indictable Court Process (District Court or Supreme Court):
    1. Contact Jameson Law for a free initial consultation
    2. Bail: An application for bail may need to be made if bail isn’t granted earlier
    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.
    4. Case conferences: may take place between the committal and the trial. 
    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.
    6. Sentencing: The judge will hand down his or her sentence and their reasons for the decision. 
  • 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 larceny 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 solicitors 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.

Yes. Shoplifting is a common term used for larceny that takes place in a shop. It involves the taking and carrying away of property to permanently deprive the owner of the item.

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.

It is a defence to larceny if at the time of the taking of the property, you are the owner of the property (and can prove it e.g. through registration documents, copy of deeds, photos, etc) or you have a legal right to possess the property e.g. you have a rental contract, the owner has consented, etc.

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