Receiving stolen property


The offence of Receiving stolen property is found at sections 188 and 189 of the Crimes Act 1900.

Receiving stolen property is an offence which is difficult for the police to prove because it requires police to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you believed the property was stolen, which is difficult unless you have made admissions about that fact.

If you are charged with the offence of Receiving stolen property, your options will normally be to plead guilty or not guilty.

Pleading not guilty

You will be found not guilty of the offence of Receiving stolen property if the police cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. You received or disposed of or attempted to dispose of property;
  2. That was stolen;
  3. And the stealing amounted to a serious indictable offence/minor indictable offence; and
  4. You did so knowing that the property had been stolen, meaning you had actual knowledge the property was stolen.

The word knowing requires an actual belief on your part that the property was as distinct from having a mere suspicion. It must be proved that the accused actually held the requisite knowledge or belief and recklessness or negligence is not. Refusal to make enquiries in circumstances where you suspect the property is stolen may be of evidentiary value in relation to the question of whether you possessed the requisite knowledge of the goods being stolen, but the wilful shutting of eyes to avoid suspicions hardening into belief is insufficient without more. The circumstances in which the defendant received the property may themselves be sufficient to prove that the accused knew they were stolen. The test is what you actually believed and not what a reasonable person would have believed.

Although it is necessary that the prosecution prove that the property was stolen, it is not necessary that either the circumstances of the theft or the identity of the owner of the goods be proved e.g. the security tags were still on the property.

If the police are able to prove the above elements beyond reasonable doubt, you will still be found not guilty if any of the following defences can be established:


Contact our offices in Sydney or Blacktown to organise a time for one of our criminal lawyers to advise you of your prospects of successfully defending the charge of Receiving stolen property.

Pleading guilty

If you agree that you have committed the offence (and the police are able to prove so), it is best to plead guilty as you will normally receive a discount on sentence and it will demonstrate remorse and contrition. Alternatively, it may be the case that one of our experienced solicitors can negotiate with prosecutors for you to plead guilty to less serious facts or even a less serious charge.

Receiving stolen property carries a maximum penalty of $5,500.00 and/or 2 years imprisonment in the Local Court and a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment in the District Court if the stealing is the consequence of a minor indictable offence. Where the stealing is the consequence of a serious indictable offence, the maximum penalty is $5,500.00 and/or 2 years imprisonment in the Local Court and a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment in the District Court. If the property stolen is valued at less than $2,000.00 then the maximum fine a court can impose is $2,200.00. However, these penalties are typically reserved for the worst offenders.

Our solicitors have a proven track record of not only keeping our clients out of gaol but also, depending on the seriousness of the allegation, having the offence dealt with by way of section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, meaning no conviction will be recorded, there is no other penalty and you will have no criminal record. To find out more about a section 10, click here.

Penalties that a court can impose in NSW are:

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