Property offences primarily concern the destruction, damage, or theft of property. There is a range of property offences that can be committed under the Victorian criminal law and these range from minor summary offences to serious indictable offences that carry significant penalties.
Property offences carry longer maximum penalties when they are committed in circumstances that involve violence or the potential for injury. There is a separate category of offences known as composite offences, which involve both property and violence.
Some of the main property offences against Victorian law are summarised below.
It is an offence under section 72 of the Crimes Acts 1958 to dishonestly appropriate property that belongs to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of the property. This offence is known as theft or stealing and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Theft is an indictable offence but can be dealt with summarily (in the Magistrates Court) if both parties consent to this.
Destroying or damaging property
It is an offence under section 197 of the Crimes Act to destroy or damage property intentionally and without lawful excuse. This offence can be committed whether the property belongs to another person or to the accused person. This offence is punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
If a person destroys or damages property intentionally and without lawful excuse and with the intention of endangering the life of a person, the maximum penalty that applies if imprisonment for 15 years.
Arson causing death
Under section 197A, a person who commits arson and causes the death of another person is guilty of a crime punishable by a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.
Causing a bushfire
A person who intentionally or recklessly causes a bushfire in Victoria is guilty of a crime punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment. This offence is committed where a person starts a fire and is reckless as to its spread onto property belonging to another.
A person who enters a building as a trespasser with the intent to steal or to cause damage to the building or to property in the building is guilty of burglary. This offence is punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years.
A person who commits burglary while armed with a firearm or an offensive weapon or while a person is present in the building is guilty of aggravated burglary, which is punishable by imprisonment for up to 25 years.
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