Robbery is a composite offence, as it is both a property offence and a violent offence. A person is guilty of robbery if they use or threaten to use violence immediately before or after stealing property. In Queensland, the offence of robbery is contained in Section 409 of the Criminal Code Act 1899. The Act also contains several other, related offences.
Proving a robbery occurred
For a person to be found guilty of robbery beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution must prove that they used or threatened to use violence in order to obtain property or to overcome the victim’s resistance. A person can be found guilty even if the amount of violence used was very small.
Penalty for robbery
Under section 411, robbery attracts a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 14 years. If a robbery is committed under circumstances of aggravation, greater penalties apply. The circumstances of aggravation that can apply to a robbery charge, are:
- The offender was armed (or pretended to be armed) with an offensive weapon;
- The offender was in company with one or more other persons;
- The offender used personal violence on a person or wounded a person.
What is an offensive weapon?
An offensive weapon may be a weapon, such as a knife, gun or sword. It may also be an item that is not generally used as a weapon if the item is being used as a weapon. This may be a cricket bat, stick or saucepan, for example.
Which jurisdiction applies?
Robbery offences are strict indictable offences and can only be finalised in the District Court. If an adult is charged with the offence, they must go through a committal proceeding in the Magistrates Court, before the charge is committed to the District Court. If a juvenile is charged with robbery, the matter the committal proceeding will be held in the Children’s Court.
If a person assaults a person with intent to steal and uses violence or the threat of violence to try to achieve the theft or overcome the victim’s resistance, they are guilty of attempted robbery and may be imprisoned for up to seven years. If the robbery is attempted under circumstances of aggravation, they may be imprisoned for up to 14 years. If the offender wounds a person using an offensive weapon, they are liable to imprisonment for life.
Assault with intent to steal
Under Section 413 of the Act, a person who assaults a person with intent to steal from them is liable to be imprisoned for up to three years. This is a lesser offence than robbery and applies where the robbery is attempted but not completed.
Demanding property with menaces
Another charge that is lesser and related to the charge of robbery is demanding property with menaces with intent to steal, under section 414 of the Act. If a person demands property with threats of injury or any detriment if the demand is not yielded to, they are liable to be imprisoned for a maximum of three years.
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