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Larceny

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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

In NSW, the offence of Larceny carries a maximum penalty of five years. If the 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.

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for larceny.


THE OFFENCE OF LARCENY

The offence of Larceny is contained in section 117 of the Crimes Act 1900 which states: "whosoever commits larceny … shall, except in the cases hereinafter otherwise provided for, be liable to imprisonment for five years."

WHAT ACTIONS MIGHT CONSTITUTE "LARCENY"?

  1. There must be a theft of property. For an offence under this provision, the property taken must be something tangible and must have some value. For example, it could include a cheque or even gas but would not include information.
  2. The theft must be of property that lawfully belonged to someone else, that is from someone who had possession of the item. In some cases, people who do not ‘own’ something may still have the right to lawfully possess it. Alternatively, courts have also found that prohibited drugs can be subject to larceny though the person has no legal right to possess the drug.
  3. Intending to return the property, or money or other property of equal value at a later time is not a defence if you or someone else has received a benefit. For example, if item is taken from a store with the intention of returning it to claim a refund.

WHAT THE POLICE MUST PROVE?

  1. That you took property;
  2. That belonged to someone else;
  3. You did so without the owner’s consent;
  4. With the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it.

POSSIBLE DEFENCES FOR LARCENY BY CLERK

Intention to permanently deprive: It can be defence to Larceny if the intention to permanently deprive the owner of property wasn’t formed at the time the property was taken. There must be some element of dishonesty to the taking of the property: R v Weatherstone. It is not enough for property to be taken, and then the intent to permanently deprive being formed afterwards.

Claim of right: It may also be a defence if you believe that you have a claim of right to the property. You would need to show that you genuinely and honestly believed that you had a legal entitlement to the property taken. It must also be a belief that you were entitled to the entire property taken and not merely part of it.

If you have been charged with an offence under this provision and believe that you may have a defence, you should obtain competent legal advice early on in your matter.

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 1 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.



Types of penalties:

Jail: This is the most serious penalty and involves full time detention in a correctional facility. Read more.

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.

Fines: When deciding the amount of a fine the magistrate or judge should consider your financial situation and your ability to pay any fine they set. Read more.

Section 10A: A section 10A is a conviction, with no other penalty attached to it. 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.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

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