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...

Larceny by Clerk


In NSW, the offence of larceny by clerk or servant carries a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment. This offence is governed by section 156 of the Crimes Act 1900 and covers any instances of theft from an employer by an employee, which is generally considered a more serious offence than theft under other circumstances as it involves a breach of trust.

Local Court penalties

If a larceny by clerk matter is dealt with in the Local Court, the penalties available are subject to limitations depending on the value of the property stolen:

  • If the value exceeds $5,000 the maximum penalty is limited to two years imprisonment and/or 100 penalty units.
  • If the value does not exceed $5,000 the maximum penalty is two years imprisonment and/or 50 penalty units.
  • If the value does not exceed $2,000 the maximum penalty is two years imprisonment and/or 20 penalty units.

What Actions Might Constitute larceny by clerk?

The following actions could form the basis for a charge of larceny by clerk:

  1. That there has been a theft of property. 
  2. The property taken belonged to the offender’s ‘master’ or ‘employer’. This is generally taken to be an employer, which could be a single person, a business or a corporation. By law you are a ‘clerk or servant’ if you are “bound to obey the orders of [your] employer,” that is, you are under their control:
  3. Common examples of offences under this provison are:
    1. Taking cash from the till of your workplace;
    2. Taking sale stock from a business you work for and either keeping the item or selling the item and retaining the profit.
    3. Transferring cash from business accounts to a personal account.

What must be proven?

For the court to find a person guilty of this offence beyond a reasonable doubt, it must be satisfied of the following:

  1. That you took property that belonged to someone else;
  2. That you did so without the owner’s consent;
  3. That you did so with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it.
  4. That you were a ‘clerk’ or ‘servant’ of the owner of the property at the time of the offence.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

This will depend on the value of the property alleged to have been taken.

If the value of the property exceeds $5,000, it is a Table 1 offence. This means that the matter will likely be dealt with in the Local Court, however the DPP or the defendant can elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court.

If the value of the property is does not exceed $5,000, it is a Table 2 offence. This means that the matter will also be likely to be dealt with in the Local Court; however, the DPP can elect to have the matter dealt with in the District 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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