Steal From Dwelling House
In NSW 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.
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.
The maximum penalty for this offence is 7 years imprisonment. In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for this charge:
- Prison Sentence
- Home Detention
- Intensive Corrections Order (ICO)
- Suspended Sentence
- Community Service Order (CSO)
- Community Corrections Orders (CCO)
- Good Behaviour Bond
- Section 10A
- Conditional Release Order (CRO)
- Section 10
The Offence of Steal from Dwelling House:
The offence of Steal from Dwelling House is contained in section 148 of the Crimes Act 1900 and states:
Whosoever steals in a dwelling-house any property shall be liable to imprisonment for seven years.
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 you of Steal from Dwelling House the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:
- That you stole property; and
- When you stole that property you stole it from a dwelling house.
Possible Defences for Steal from Dwelling House:
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 steal any property;
- To argue that the property you stole was not from a dwelling house; or
- To raise necessity or duress as the reason for your conduct.
Which Court Wwill 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.
Types of Penalties:
Home Detention: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 as a standalone order but may be imposed as a condition of an Intensive Corrections Order (ICO). Home detention is an alternative to full-time imprisonment. In effect the gaol sentence is served at your address rather than in a gaol. If you receive a sentence of home detention you will be strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Read more.
Intensive Corrections Order (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.
Suspended Sentence: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018. This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.
Community Service Order (CSO): As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.
Good Behaviour Bond: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.
Community Corrections Orders (CCO): A CCO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the Community Corrections Orders (CCO). Additional conditions may be imposed at the discretion of the court, both at the time of sentence and subsequently upon application by a community corrections officer, juvenile justice officer or the offender. Read more.
Conditional Release Order (CRO): A CRO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the CRO. Read more.
Section 10 avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.
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.