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Stealing a Motor Vehicle or Vessel (Car Theft)


Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

In NSW, Stealing a Motor Vehicle or Vessel carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

This offence is different, and more serious than the offence of taking a conveyance without the consent of the owner (Joyriding).

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for stealing a motor vehicle or vessel.


The offence of Stealing a Motor Vehicle or Vessel is contained in section 154F of the Crimes Act 1900 which states: A person who steals a motor vehicle or vessel is guilty of an offence.


  • The main difference between this offence and joyriding, is that this offence requires that you had the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the motor vehicle or vessel (ie to not return it or give it back).
  • A 'vessel' includes water craft of any description used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.


To convict you of Stealing a Motor Vehicle or Vessel, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you stole a motor vehicle or vessel;
  • With the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the motor vehicle or vessel;
  • You were the person who committed the offence.


Possible defences to a Stealing a Motor Vehicle or Vessel charge include but are not limited to:


This matter is a "table" matter. This means that it is normally heard in the Local Court, but it will occasionally be heard in the District or Supreme Court.

Types of penalties:

Jail: This is the most serious penalty and involves full time detention in a correctional facility. Read more.

Home Detention: Home detention is an alternative to full-time imprisonment. In effect the gaol sentence is served at your address rather than in a gaol. If you receive a sentence of home detention you will be strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Read more.

Intensive corrections order (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.

Suspended sentence: This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.

Community service order (CSO): This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.

Good behaviour bond: This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.

Fines: When deciding the amount of a fine for this charge the magistrate or judge should consider your financial situation and your ability to pay any fine they set. Read more.

Section 10: Avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.

where to next?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

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