The offence of Stealing (larceny) is found at section 117 of the Crimes Act 1900.
Larceny encompasses most forms of stealing including shoplifting. There are many ways to defend a larceny charge including where it can be established that a defendant did not have an intention to permanently deprive the victim or where a person has a claim of right to the property taken. Larceny cases can also often be defended on account of there being issues with the identification of suspect.
If you are charged with the offence of Stealing (larceny), your options will normally be to plead guilty or not guilty.
Pleading not guilty
You will be found not guilty of the offence of Stealing (larceny) if the police cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt:
- You took and carried away property; and
- That property belonged to another person; and
- You intended to permanently deprive the owner of that property; and
- The taking was done without the consent of the owner.
There must be an intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property which intent must exist at the time of the taking, so that if the obtaining of the property is innocent a later intent to steal is insufficient. If the accused takes the property without having decided whether to keep it or not, he does not commit larceny.
Claim of right is a defence to Stealing (larceny). A person will have a claim of right where they possess a genuine belief that they have a bona fide claim of right to certain money. If you believed you were entitled to take the property, it does not matter that you did not believe you were entitled to take it in the manner you did.
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 office to organise a time for one of our criminal lawyers to advise you of your prospects of successfully defending the charge of Stealing (larceny).
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.
Stealing (larceny) carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $5,500.00 and/or 12 months imprisonment in the Local Court where the value of the property stolen does not exceed $5,000.00 and a maximum penalty of $5,500.00 and/or 2 years imprisonment in the Local Court where the value of the property stolen exceeds $5,000.00. In the District Court, the maximum penalty for the offence of Stealing/larceny is 5 years imprisonment. However, stealing/larceny is an offence sometimes dealt with pursuant to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentence 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:
- Section 10 – No conviction recorded
- Section 9 – Good behaviour bond
- Community service order
- Section 12 – Suspended sentence
- Intensive correction order
- Home detention
- Full time imprisonment
Mr Correy represented a young woman who plead guilty to stealing more than $5,000.00 from a deposit box at a bank. Mr Correy submitted the stealing was impulsive and that the young woman had been neglected by her mother in that she had been taking her daughter’s wage to gamble for much of her working life, which affected her ability in that split moment to distinguish right from wrong. The Magistrate agreed with Mr Correy’s submissions and dealt with the matter pursuant to section 10, meaning no conviction was recorded.
Case Study 2
Mr Correy represented a man who had a gambling addiction and had been charged with stealing $15,000.00 from the account of a customer at a bank where he worked. He was not charged until 4 years after the stealing. Mr Correy submitted in the four years, he had addressed his gambling addiction and there was no good reason for the delay in bringing the charges, which he had lost his job over. Mr Correy submitted he had rebuilt his life and may lose his new career if a conviction was recorded. Given the delay, the Magistrate agreed and dealt with the matter pursuant to section 10, meaning no conviction was recorded.