Burglary


The ACT has a very different regime to NSW when it comes to these type of offences. While the same offending behaviours are punished in similar vein, the legislative framework is much different, with ACT offences generally found in the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT), and referred to as burglary, where NSW’s remain in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and have the old name of breaking and entering.

If you have been charged in NSW but are from the ACT or surrounding region you should still contact our Canberra office but you should also refer to our NSW web site for the specific legislation of your matter.

Our ACT office criminal law team are well versed in both sets of laws and regularly appear in the courts of both the ACT and NSW.

In the ACT, a court can impose any of the following penalties for this charge:

The Offence of Burglary:

Section 311 of the Criminal Code (2002) ACT defines burglary very broadly as remaining on premises as a trespasser with intent to either commit theft of any property from those premises or commit another offence involving violence or property damage or any offence carrying a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment or longer.

The definition of “building” includes a structure, vehicle or vessel that is used, designed or adapted for residential purposes.

The Section decrees that a person is not a trespasser “only because the person is permitted to enter or remain in the building—

  • for a purpose that is not the person’s intended purpose; or
  • because of fraud, misrepresentation or someone else’s mistake.

The maximum penalty for burglary is a fine of 1400 penalty units and/or 14 years’ imprisonment.

What the Police Must Prove:

  • That you remained on premises, and
  • That you had the intent of
  • Committing theft of any property from those premises, or
  • Committing another offence involving violence or property damage, or
  • Committing any offence carrying a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment or longer

Possible Defences to burglary:

The common ways to defend this charge are:

  • To maintain your innocence if you did not commit the act;
  • To argue that you did not enter the house or premises;
  • To argue that you did not intend to steal anything;
  • To argue you did not intend to commit violence or property damage;
  • To argue you did not intend to commit any other “serious offence” (ie, any offence carrying a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment or longer).
  • To raise necessity or duress as the reason for your conduct.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

As burglary carries a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment, it is possible to have it remain in the Magistrates Court, as long as the court considers that the amount of the money or the value of the property involved (not including a motor vehicle) does not exceed $30 000 (Crimes Act 1900 (ACT), Section 375).

The maximum penalty that can be imposed on any individual burglary charge in the Magistrates Court is two years’ jail.

 

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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