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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (state and federal industrial tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Going Equipped for Theft


It might have an quaint or even antiquated-sounding title but this is a serious charge with serious penalties. It captures a  wide range of activity and a broad range of items that you could be “going equipped” with.

Penalties include not only fines and prison terms but forfeiture of the items, and similar items as well.

A court can impose any of the following penalties:

The Offence of Going Equipped for Theft

Section 315 of the Criminal Code 2002 states the offence of Going Equipped for Theft is committed if a person has with him or her an article with intent to use it in the course of or in relation to theft or a related offence. A related offence is  defined as robbery, aggravated robbery, burglary and aggravated burglary, taking a motor vehicle without consent or obtaining property by deception.

The maximum penalty is a fine of 300 penalty units and/or three years’ imprisonment.

Section 316 states that, if the article found with the person is an offensive weapon, the maximum penalty rises to 500 penalty units and/or five years’ imprisonment. However, for this section, “a related offence” does not include taking a motor vehicle without consent or obtaining property by deception.

An offensive weapon is defined in the Code as including:

  • anything made or adapted for use for causing injury to or incapacitating a person;
  • anything that a person has with the intention of using, or threatening to use, to cause injury to or incapacitate someone else;
  • a firearm, or anything that may reasonably be taken in the circumstances to be a firearm;
  • a knife, or anything that may reasonably be taken in the circumstances to be a knife;
  • an explosive, or anything that may reasonably be taken in the circumstances to be or contain an explosive.

Section 375 of the Code provides that if a person is found guilty of going equipped he or she must forfeit to the Territory the article and any other article of the same kind that is in the person’s custody or possession. The same applies to offensive weapons if the going equipped was with an offensive weapon.

What the Police Must Prove

The police must prove that you had the requisite level of intent, which is defined in the Code at Section 18:

  • a person has intention in relation to conduct if the person means to engage in the conduct;
  • a person has intention in relation to a result if the person means to bring it about or is aware that it will happen in the ordinary course of events;
  • a person has intention in relation to a circumstance if the person believes that it exists or will exist.

Further, the Prosecution must prove that intent was in relation to the particular nominated offences specified in Section 315. It will have to prove, also, that the alleged article was actually with the accused person.

If the charge relates to an offensive weapon, the Prosecution will have to prove all the above elements of the offence and that the article was an offensive weapon.

Possible Defences to Going Equipped For Theft

Identity can be an issue in these types of offences as many are alleged to have occurred at night or in dimly lit places. Other defences can include, but are not limited to, duress, necessity and emergency.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

As the offences carry maximum prison terms of three and five years, the Prosecution can elect to have them remain in the ACT Magistrates Court, where the maximum penalty that can be imposed is two years. If the Prosecution does not make that election, the defendant can still “consent to the jurisdiction” of the Magistrates Court.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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.

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