Car rebirthing, where vehicles are stolen, stripped of identifying numbers and then sold, is believed to be fairly widespread in NSW.
Earlier this year, an alleged syndicate operating out of Sydney’s west was arrested and police seized 32 cars and four boats at two different premises.
If you have been charged with car rebirthing in NSW, it’s important to seek advice from an experienced criminal lawyer if you want to minimise the possibility of a prison sentence and a lifelong criminal conviction.
What is the legal definition of car rebirthing?
According to the Crimes Act, car rebirthing is stealing a motor vehicle (or vessel if the offence in question is boat rebirthing) and then stripping it of its identifying information for the purposes of trying to conceal the fact that it is stolen.
It can also include using stolen parts in a vehicle which is then sold, and interfering with the unique identification number on a vehicle.
Selling a vehicle that is stolen or which contains stolen parts comes under the legal definition of car rebirthing, as does registering the vehicle in NSW or any other state.
There are a number of criminal offences under the broad definition of rebirthing.
You can be charged with being the person undertaking the rebirthing activities, and it is also enough to be proven to have facilitated these activities to be found guilty of a crime.
Facilitating a rebirthing activity can include participating in any step of the activity, providing or arranging finance for any step of the activity, and providing a premises or knowingly allowing any step of the rebirthing to take place at a premises owned by you.
To be convicted of this offence, the prosecution has to demonstrate that you were undertaking the rebirthing activity on an organised basis.
How does the law define an ‘organised basis’?
For a car or boat rebirthing activity to be considered to be carried out on an organised basis, it needs to be structured and carried out in a manner that would indicate it is undertaken on more than one occasion and involves more than one participant.
It also needs to be carried out for profit or gain rather than just as a hobby.
What does the prosecution have to prove?
For a finding of guilt in court, as well as showing that the car rebirthing was carried out on an organised basis, the prosecution also needs to prove that you were aware that you were participating in a car rebirthing activity and that you actively participated in these activities.
The prosecution doesn’t need to provide any evidence to show that you knew any of the other participants, or that there was any particular hierarchy amongst the participants.
It also doesn’t make a difference to the strength of the prosecution’s case whether or not the same participants were involved on every occasion that the activity was carried out.
What are the penalties for car rebirthing?
Car rebirthing activities come with a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment.
Other potential penalties can include a fine, a good behaviour bond, a suspended sentence, and community service.
It is also possible to get a Section 10 for a car rebirthing offence, and avoid a criminal conviction altogether.
If you have been charged with car rebirthing in NSW, it’s important to seek experienced legal representation as soon as possible.
Your criminal lawyer can help you look at your options and help you prepare the strongest possible defence against the charges.