LARCENY

Apprehended Violence Order

What is Larceny?

Larceny is a crime in New South Wales under section 117 of the Crimes Act 1900. The charge was defined in the case of Ilich v R (1986) 162 CLR 110 as:

“[W]ithout the consent of the owner, fraudulently and without claim of right… takes and carries away anything capable of being stolen with intent… permanently to deprive the owner”.

Put more simply, Larceny it is taking property which does not belong to you. Property can include money. Larceny is known as an “offence against possession”, as opposed to an “offence against ownership”. This means the Victim just needs to be in possession of the property, as opposed to owning it.

Examples of Larceny:

  • Shoplifting.
  • Pick pocketing.

What the Prosecution need to prove:

For you to be found guilty of Larceny, the Prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The property had value (e.g. it is not just information); AND
  2. The property did not belong to you, and belonged to someone else; AND
  3. You took and carried the property away (meaning that you physically moved it); AND
  4. The owner of the property did not consent; AND
  5. When you took the property, you had the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it; AND
  6. You took the property dishonestly.

Which Court will your Larceny case be heard in:

If the value of the property is less than $5,000, your matter will usually be finalised in the Local Court, before a Local Court Magistrate. However, either you or the Prosecution may elect to commit a Larceny charge to the District Court.

If the value of the property is more than $5,000, your matter will also usually be finalised in the Local Court, before a Local Court Magistrate. However, the Prosecution may elect to commit a Larceny charge to the District Court.

In the District Court, if you enter a plea of not guilty, the charge will be determined at a trial before a District Court Judge and jury. Sentences in the District Court are determined by a District Court Judge alone.

Defences to the charge of Larceny:

  • The Prosecution cannot prove the elements of the offence of Larceny.
  • You took the property in good faith with a genuine belief that you had the right to it.
  • You made an honest and reasonable mistake of fact.
  • Self-defence.
  • You acted out of Duress.
  • You acted out of Necessity.

Maximum sentences for Larceny charges:

The maximum sentence for Larceny depends on the amount of the property taken and which Court your matter is finalised in.

If the value of the property is less than $2,000, and it is finalised in the Local Court, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for up to two years, and a fine of up to 20 penalty units, which is $2,200.

If the value of the property is between $2,000 and $5,000, and it is finalised in the Local Court the maximum penalty is imprisonment for up to 12 months, and a fine of up to 50 penalty units, which is $5,500.

If the value of the property is more than $5,000, and it is finalised in the Local Court the maximum penalty is imprisonment for up to two years, and a fine of up to 50 penalty units, which is $5,500.

If your matter is finalised in the District Court, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for up to 5 years.

Don’t panic. Maximum sentences are usually reserved for the worst type of offending, when a defendant has a long criminal history. If you decide to plead guilty to a charge of Larceny, your lawyer will help you identify mitigating factors the sentencing court will take into account. For more on likely sentencing considerations and outcomes for Larceny offences in your circumstances, see our sentencing information.

Guess what:

If you steal your property back from someone in lawful possession of it, you could be guilty of Larceny!

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