Steal From Dwelling House
In New South Wales it is an offence to take property from a dwelling house. A dwelling house is any house, building, vehicle or boat which someone lives in. A house, building, vehicle or boat will also be considered to be a dwelling house if it is designed for someone to live in, even if no one actually lives in it. The offence of steal from dwelling house is contained in section 148 of the Crimes Act 1900.
A person can be charged with this offence if they steal property from a house or other place of residence.
The offence is similar to a number of other theft and stealing offences. The primary difference is that the police only need to prove that you stole something from a place that is considered to be a dwelling house. The police do not have to prove that you broke something to gain entry to the property before stealing the items like they do with the offence of break, enter and steal.
What Actions Might Constitute Steal from Dwelling House?
Examples of steal from dwelling house include:
- Taking jewellery and money from your neighbour’s house;
- Mooring alongside a brand new yacht, hopping aboard and taking pillows and linen from the sleeping quarters;
- Walking through an unlocked front door and helping yourself to a case of beer in the fridge; or
- Sneaking into a caravan at a holiday park and taking an iPad and speakers.
What the Police Must Prove
To convict a person of steal from dwelling house the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That they stole property; and
- When they stole that property they stole it from a dwelling house.
Possible Defences for Steal from Dwelling House
A person charged with this offence may defend the charge by arguing that:
- They had a lawful claim to the property allegedly stolen;
- They did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of the property;
- They place stolen from was not a dwelling house.
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
Where the value of the property is greater than $5,000 the matter will be finalised in the Local Court unless the Department of Public Prosecutions or the person who has been charged elects to have the matter finalised in the District Court.
Where the value of the property is less than $5,000 the matter will be finalised in the Local Court unless the Department of Public Prosecutions elects to have the matter finalised in the District Court.
If the matter remains in the Local Court the court can only impose a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment for a single charge.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.