Handling Stolen Goods


In Victoria, a person found guilty of handling stolen goods under section 88 of the Crimes Act 1958 is liable to 15 years imprisonment.

The Offence of Handling Stolen Goods

A person will be found guilty of the offence of Handling Stolen Goods if they dishonestly receive goods knowing or believing them to be stolen.

There are a number of ways this offence can be committed, including dishonestly bringing or assisting to bring stolen goods into Victoria.

A person may also be found guilty of this offence if they undertook, assisted with or arranged for the retention, removal or disposal of stolen goods for the benefit of another person.

In Victoria, a person found guilty of Handling Stolen Goods under section 88 of the Crimes Act 1958 is liable to 15 years imprisonment.

What Actons Might Constitute “Handling Stolen Goods”?

Examples of Handling Stolen Goods may include:

  • Purchasing a road bike from a person who you knew or believed to be stolen and selling it.
  • Purchasing computers or software from a person who you believed to have stolen the computers and giving them to another person.
  • Buying a computer from someone in the pub when the price was so low as to cause you to believe is was stolen.

What the Police Must Prove

To find you guilty of Handling Stolen Goods, the prosecution must first be able to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you did one of the following:

  • Received the goods or brought the goods into Victoria; or
  • Undertook or assisted in the bringing of goods into Victoria; or
  • Undertook or assisted in the retention, removal, disposal or realisation of goods by or for the benefit of another person; or
  • Arranged for the bringing of the goods into Victoria or arranged for the retention, removal, disposal or realisation of goods by or for the benefit of another person.

The police must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That at the time of handling the goods they were stolen;
  • That at the time of handling you knew or believed the goods to be stolen;
  • The handling was dishonest; and
  • The handling took place otherwise than in the course of the relevant stealing.

Therefore, the police must prove that you had actual knowledge or a belief that the goods were stolen at the time they were handled. It is not enough for the police to show you suspected the goods were stolen.

Alternate Charges for Handling Stolen Goods

Where police cannot prove you had knowledge the goods were stolen, a lesser charge of Dealing with Property Suspected of Being Proceeds of Crime may be laid against you. The maximum penalty under section 195 of the Crimes Act1958 for this offence is 2 years imprisonment.

Under section 88A of the Crimes Act 1958, if you have been charged with Theft and Handling Stolen Goods, both charges will be joined in the same indictment as alternative charges and tried together. This means that if you are found guilty of both offences, the Court must set aside the charge of Handling Stolen Goods and find you guilty of Theft and you will be sentenced accordingly.

Possible defence

A person charged with handling stolen goods can argue in their defence that they were not aware the goods were stolen and had no belief that the goods were stolen.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

If the stolen goods alleged to have been handled includes a motor vehicle or the amount or value of the stolen goods alleged to have been handled is below $100,000, your case may be heard summarily in the Magistrates Court, provided the consent of the accused and the prosecution is obtained.

However, if you have been charged with Handling Stolen Goods and the value or amount of the goods alleged to have handled exceeds $100,000, your matter will be heard in the County or Supreme Court of Victoria.

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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