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Criminal Law » Robbery » Robbery whilst armed with an offensive weapon

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Robbery whilst armed with an offensive weapon

Robbery whilst armed with an offensive weapon is an offence under section 97(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 20 years.

The offence of robbery with an offensive weapon is committed when a person robs another person whilst armed with an offensive weapon.

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What the prosecution must prove

To prove this offence, the prosecution must show beyond reasonable doubt that:

  • A person intended to steal, and
  • That person took property from another person’s immediate control or presence, and
  • The property was taken through the use of threats or force, causing the victim fear,
  • The person was in possession of an offensive weapon.

What is an “offensive weapon”?

For the offence to be made out the person must be in possession of an offensive weapon. The Crimes Act defines an offensive weapon as:

  • a dangerous weapon, or
  • any thing that is made or adapted for offensive purposes, or
  • any thing that, in the circumstances, is used, intended for use or threatened to be used for offensive purposes, whether or not it is ordinarily used for offensive purposes or is capable of causing harm.

Defences

The onus is on the prosecution to prove every element of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt.

A defence that may be open to an accused person is a claim of right. For such a defence to a charge of robbery the accused must establish that he or she believed that he or she was entitled to take the property.

Will I go to jail?

The offence of armed robbery is regarded as a very serious offence by the courts and a custodial sentence is almost always imposed.

The New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal has handed down a guideline judgment in relation to robbery with an offensive weapon: R v Henry (1999) 46 NSWLR 346. The court stated that a category of case which is sufficiently common for the purposes of determining a guideline comprises the following elements:

(i)             young offender with no or little criminal history;

(ii)            weapon like a knife, capable of killing or inflicting serious injury

(iii)           limited degree of planning

(iv)           limited, if any, actual violence but a real threat thereof

(v)            victim in a vulnerable position such as a shopkeeper or taxi driver

(vi)           small amount taken

(vii)          plea of guilty, the significance of which is limited by a strong Crown case.

The court stated that sentences for an offence of this character should generally fall between four and five years for the full term. Aggravating and mitigating factors will justify a sentence below or above the range which is itself a starting point.

As with all sentences the court will consider the circumstances of the offence, whether there was a plea of guilty, whether any remorse has been shown as well as the circumstances of the offender including whether he or she has a prior criminal history.