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...

Stealing a Motor Vehicle or Vessel (Car Theft)

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). The offence of Stealing a Motor Vehicle or Vessel is contained in section 154F of the Crimes Act 1900.

What is Stealing a Motor Vehicle or Vessel?

The main difference between this offence and joyriding, is that this offence requires that the accused had the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the motor vehicle or vessel (ie not to return it).

A ‘vessel’ includes water craft of any description used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.

What the Police Must Prove

To convict a person, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That they stole a motor vehicle or vessel;
  • They has the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the motor vehicle or vessel;

Possible Defences for Stealing a Motor Vehicle or Vessel

A person who is charged with this offence may defend the charge by arguing that:

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

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.

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


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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