Robbery and Stealing offences

Robbery or stealing from someone is dealt with under section 94 of the Crimes Act 1900 and is defined as follows: ‘whosoever robs or assaults with intent to rob any person, or steals any chattel, money, or valuable security from the person of another is guilty of an offence’.

The offence is referred to as ‘robbery’ (section 94(a)) or ‘stealing from the person’ (section 94(b)). It is a ‘hybrid’ offence in that it contains elements of larceny and assault.

What the prosecution needs to prove

For a robbery charge:

  • You intended to steal,

  • You took the property from another person’s immediate control or presence; and

  • You used actual violence or put the owner/person in lawful possession in fear of actual violence.

It has been held that there must be violence or a threat which induces the victim to part with the property taken. It is not sufficient if the violence or threat was made after the property was taken. 

For a stealing from person charge: 

  • You stole any chattel, money, or valuable security (i.e., complete removal from their immediate control), and 

  • The property belonged to someone else, and 

  • The property was stolen ‘from’ the other person. 

Penalties

If you are found guilty of this offence, the maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment.

However, with respect to the offence of stealing from the person (section 94(b)), what court will hear the matter and the associated penalties, will depend upon the value of the property stolen.

If the value of the property stolen exceeds $5,000, it is classified as a ‘table 1’ offence. This means that it will be dealt with in the Local Court unless the prosecution or defence elects for it to be heard in the District Court.

In the Local Court, the maximum penalty is limited to 2 years imprisonment and/or a $11,000 fine.

If the value of the property stolen does not exceed $5,000, it is classified as a ‘table 2’ offence, which means that it will be dealt with in the Local Court, unless the prosecution elects for it to be heard in the District Court.

In the Local Court, the maximum penalty is limited to 2 years imprisonment and/or a $2,200 fine. 

The offence of robbery (section 94(a)) is also classified as a ‘table 1’ offence. In the Local Court, the maximum penalty is limited to 2 years imprisonment and/or a $11,000 fine. 

However, where the robbery is committed in circumstances of aggravation (i.e., offender uses corporal violence, intentionally or recklessly inflicts actual bodily harm, or deprives any person of their liberty) the maximum penalty applicable is instead 20 years imprisonment. 

This is a strictly indictable offence which must proceed to the District Court.

Other related offences include:

  • Armed robbery = maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment,

  • Robbery in company = maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment,

  • Robbery armed with a dangerous weapon (i.e., firearm, prohibited weapon or spear gun) = maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment. 

If you are only charged with larceny (stealing) under section 117 of the Crimes Act 1900, the following penalties apply:

  • Where the value of the stolen property amounts to $2,00.00 or less – two years imprisonment and/or a $2,200.00 fine, 

  • Where the value of the stolen property amounts to $5,000.00 or less – two years imprisonment and/or a $5,500.00 fine, 

  • Where the value of the stolen property amounts to more than $5,000.00 – two years imprisonment and/or a $11,000.00 fine. 

Whilst larceny is essentially another word for stealing, it is differed on the basis that it is a non-violent theft as opposed to robbery and does not involve directly taking property from another person, as is the case with ‘stealing from the person’. 

Using the example of stealing a wallet:

  • if you threatened or assaulted someone and took their wallet, this would be classified as ‘robbery’. 

  • if you took stole someone’s wallet from their hands, this would likely be classified as steal from person,

  • if you took a wallet from someone’s bag when they were not looking, it would likely be classified as larceny. 

The elements of larceny, that the prosecution are required to prove beyond reasonable doubt, are:

  • The property belonged to someone else,

  • You took it and carried it away, 

  • The taking/carrying away was without the owner’s consent,

  • You intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property,

  • You did not have a claim of right made in good faith, and

  • You took the property dishonestly.

The mental elements of the offence (i.e., the last 3 points) must exist at the time of taking the property. 

Apart from a full-time custodial sentence, you may also be eligible for the following penalties based on the circumstances: 

  • S10(1)(A) dismissal. 

  • Conditional release order without conviction. 

  • Conditional release order with conviction. 

  • Fine

  • Community corrections order. 

  • Intensive corrections order.

Defences

  • Claim of right

  • Self-defence

  • Not in company

  • Not aware of dangerous weapon

  • False allegation

  • Mistaken identity

  • Mental illness 

  • Duress or necessity 

  • Intoxication

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