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Criminal Law » Fraud and Stealing Offences » Larceny

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Larceny

Larceny, or stealing, is a criminal offence in New South Wales that can carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

There are a number of elements to an offence of larceny that police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, they are as follows:

  1. That the property belonged to another person;
  2. The property must be taken and carried away;
  3. The taking of the property was done without the consent of the owner of the property; and
  4. There was an intention of permanently depriving the owner of that property.

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Larceny can involve the taking of any kind of good or personal belonging of another and can include money, bank cheques, and items taken through shoplifting.

If you have taken or stolen an item worth less than $300.00, police can issue you with a Criminal Infringement Notice.

Defences

Intention to Permanently Deprive

For an offence of larceny, there must be an intention by a person at the time of the taking of the property to deprive the owner permanently of the property. Therefore, if the goods:

  1. Are taken by mistake or accident, or
  2. At the time of the taking there was an intention to return the goods; or
  3. At the time of the taking there was no intention to permanently deprive the owner of the goods, then there is no larceny.

Claim of Right

It is also a defence to a charge of larceny if you believed you had a claim of right to the property you have taken.  For this defence, you must honestly and genuinely believe that you have a legal right to the property that you have taken. The claim of right must also extend to the entirety of the property you have taken. The claim of right does not extend to anything additional you may have taken as ‘payback’ or ‘revenge’.

What is the Penalty for Larceny?

The maximum penalty for larceny will depend on the value of the property that you have taken. It will also depend on which Court will hear and determine your matter. For most offences of Larceny, proceedings are finalised in the Local Court.

In the Local Court:

  1. If the value of the property exceeds $5,000 then the maximum penalty that can be imposed is a fine of $11,000 and/or a term of imprisonment of 2 years.
  2. If the value of the property does not exceed $5,000, then the maximum penalty that can be imposed is a fine of $5,500 and/or a term of imprisonment of 2 years.
  3. If the value of the property does not exceed $2,000 then the maximum penalty that can be imposed is a fine of $2,200 and/or a term of imprisonment of 2 years.

If you have been charged with an offence of larceny it is best to contact one of our experienced criminal lawyers to obtain advice as to whether there are any defences available to you. We can also discuss with you the various sentencing options that can be imposed.