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...

Robbery (ACT)


Robbery is known as a composite offence. This means that it is both a violent offence and a property offence. This article outlines the laws around robbery offences in the ACT.

The Offence of Robbery

Robbery is theft from a person with the use or threat of force at or immediately before or after the theft.

It is found at Section 309 of the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT), where the maximum penalty is set at a fine of 1400 penalty units and/or 14 years’ imprisonment.

What the Police Must Prove

In order for a person to be found guilty of robbery, it must be proven that:

  • They committed theft; and
  • When committing the theft, or immediately before or immediately after committing the theft, the person—
    • Used force on someone else; or
    • Threatened to use force then and there on someone else;

with intent to commit theft, or to escape from the scene.

Possible Defences for Robbery

A person charged with robbery can validly defend the charge by arguing that:

  • They did not intend to steal the item;
  • They did not threaten or use force on the person;
  • They did not take or steal anything from the person, although this may still give rise to a charge of attempted robbery;
  • The item was theirs and they had a claim of right over it.

Which Court Will Hear the Matter?

Robbery matters can be dealt with in the ACT Supreme Court or ACT Magistrates Court. If the amount allegedly involved does not exceed $30,000, it is possible to have the matter remain in the Magistrates Court where the maximum penalty that can be imposed is two years’ jail.

From 1 July 2012 to 30 April 2017, 19 robbery matters were finalised in the Magistrates Court with only 10 being dealt with in the Supreme Court in the same time.

Aggravated Robbery

Aggravated robbery is provided for by Section 310 of the Criminal Code, where the maximum penalty is a fine of up to 2500 penalty units and/or imprisonment for 25 years.

A robbery is said to be “aggravated” if it is committed:

  • In the company of 1 or more other people;
  • Or with the use of an offensive weapon.

The Criminal Code defines an offensive weapon to include the following:

  • 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.

Which court will hear the matter?

As the maximum penalty for aggravated robbery is 25 years’ imprisonment, it is a strictly indictable offence meaning it will be heard in the Supreme Court, unless the accused person is a child, in which case it can be dealt with in the Children’s Court.

In the most recently counted statistical period (1 July 2012 to 30 April 2017), more than 70 per cent of those charged with aggravated robbery received immediate full-time custodial prison sentences, with 17 per cent receiving a partially suspended prison sentence and a further 11 per cent a wholly suspended sentence. Only one person out of 164 received a Good Behaviour Order.

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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