Stealing

Offences

All of the offences set out on this page have stealing as their basic ingredient. Stealing is basically taking something that you know you are not entitled to take without any intention of returning it. The details of what needs to be proved in relation to each offence is set out in detail below. 

There are no hard and fast rules about sentencing for larceny style offences. If you plead guilty or are found guilty, in deciding what punishment to impose the Court will consider the seriousness of the offence, your criminal history and your personal circumstances including any explanation you have for the offence. Often stealing offences are associated with drug use. In many cases Courts can be convinced to impose sentences which focus not only on punishment, but also rehabilitation. This can shift the outcome away from gaol and toward supervised community orders such as Good Behaviour Bonds, Suspended Sentences (section 12) and Intensive Corrections Orders (ICOs). 

Principal Solicitor Christian Hearn has extensive experience dealing with all kinds of stealing offences. For a free consultation and strong representation call Hearn Legal.

STEALING

The basic offence is known by three names; stealing, larceny and shoplifting. Stealing and larceny are two terms with the same meaning. Shoplifting is simply stealing from a store. In order to prove an offence of stealing the prosecution must prove four things:
 

  • That you are in fact the person who committed the crime

  • That you took an item

  • That you intended to permanently deprive the owner / possessor of that item

  • That you did not have a claim of right to possess that item


In this context ‘taking’ has a broader meaning that it does in every day usage. Provided that you have the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the relevant item, moving that item ever so slightly will constitute ‘taking.’ This covers the situation where a thief is disturbed and drops the items he / she has gathered.

Depending on the specifics of your case there may be various ways to fight a larceny charge, however two particular strategies can be noted:

 

  • Claim of right

  • Lack of intent to permanently deprive


A claim of right is a total defence to a charge of stealing. In order to raise this defence the court will need to hear some evidence that when you took the item you had an honest and reasonable belief that you were entitled to possess it. If such evidence raises the claim as an issue, it will then fall to the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you did not in fact hold an honest and reasonable claim of right. Running this defence will often mean that you have to get in the witness box and give evidence. This opens you up to cross examination by the prosecution. Accordingly, this is a decision which should be carefully considered in consultation with an experienced defence lawyer.

Intent to permanently deprive simply means taking something intending that the rightful owner or possessor will never get it back.

Maximum penalty: 24 months imprisonment 

STEAL FROM THE PERSON

Stealing from the person can be distinguished from robbery. Robbery requires the offender to do an act which puts the victim in fear, and then forcefully take their property. By contrast stealing from the person requires only a stealing of the property from the immediate presence of the victim. The typical example of this offence is bag snatching. 


Maximum penalty: 10 years imprisonment 

STEAL FROM DWELLING

Again the starting point for this offence is that there must be an act of larceny. If this larceny takes place in somebody else’s home, including in non-residential structures on the property, the offence is ‘steal from dwelling.’ This offence can be distinguished from break and enter style offences. This is because a ‘steal from dwelling’ offence assumes that you had permission to be in the house whereas break and enter does not. It is treated more seriously than other larceny offences because it often involves a breach of trust, and imposes on a persons right to feel safe in their home.

Maximum penalty: 10 years imprisonment

STEAL FROM DWELLING
WITH MENACES

If during an offence of stealing from a dwelling (described above) the offender makes threats in order to obtain property, he or she will be guilty of a more serious version of the offence. This is to reflect the fear that the victim would experience.

Maximum penalty: 10 years imprisonment 

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