Larceny by clerk or servant – s 156 Crimes Act 1900


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‘Larceny by clerk or servant’ refers to situations where you steal property belonging to your employer.

It is a form of fraud which is taken seriously by the courts.

However, as Sydney’s best criminal defence team, our experienced lawyers can advise you of the best course of action when it comes to fighting the charges and avoiding a conviction or lengthy penalty.

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

There are certain factors (known as the ‘elements’ of the offence) which the prosecution must prove before you can be found guilty of ‘larceny by clerk or servant.’

These are:

  • That you were a clerk or servant (essentially, that you were an employee)
  • That you stole property (i.e. that you took property and carried it away without your employer’s permission, and without any intention of returning it);
  • That your employer owned the property or had it in their possession

If you believe that the prosecution will be unable to prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, our team of expert defence lawyers can advise you on the best way to fight the charges in court.

Where there is insufficient evidence, or problems with the prosecution case, our lawyers can write to the prosecution requesting that the charges be dropped.

Often, this means that our clients avoid the time and expense of a defended hearing.

If the matter ends up in court, our criminal law specialists will fight hard to protect your rights and interests by thoroughly examining all relevant witnesses and presenting all evidence in a positive light.

Our lawyers can assist you in avoiding a conviction by explaining your side of the story in a compelling and favourable manner.

We can also identify and raise any viable defences, which, if accepted, will result in the charges being dropped.

Examples of commonly raised defences for ‘larceny by clerk or servant’ include:

  • Where you believed that the property belonged to you, or that you had a legal claim to the property in question (claim of right);
  • Where you were threatened or coerced into stealing the property (duress).

For more information on ‘larceny by clerk or servant,’ see our legislation page here.

Pleading Guilty

Our fraud specialists can also assist you should you wish to accept the charges and plead guilty.

In some situations, it may actually be beneficial to plead guilty at an early stage, as it will show that you have accepted responsibility for your actions.

This generally results in the court imposing a more lenient penalty than that which you would have received if you were found guilty following a defended hearing.

However, before entering a plea of ‘guilty,’ it is advisable that you seek assistance from our highly experienced lawyers, as there may be some way in which you can fight the charges and avoid a conviction.

You should also be aware of the maximum penalties that may apply if you decide to plead guilty.

‘Larceny by clerk or servant’ carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

However, this is the absolute maximum and it will only apply in the most serious cases.

Generally, these types of matters will be dealt with in the Local Court before a magistrate, where the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment.

However, in some cases, particularly where the property stolen is valuable, the prosecution may choose to have the matter heard in the District Court, where lengthier penalties apply.

Our lawyers will push to have your ‘larceny by clerk or servant’ matter dealt with in the Local Court.

We will then prepare compelling ‘sentencing submissions’ which highlight any positive factors in your case in order to maximise your chances of obtaining the most lenient penalty possible.

The types of penalties that the court can impose include:

The types of penalties that the court can impose include:

Our lawyers have considerable experience preparing and presenting sentencing submissions in some of the most difficult fraud matters, so you can rest assured that we will help you achieve the best possible result – no matter how serious the circumstances are.

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

Being accused of stealing from your employer can have a negative impact on your life and future career.

However, with the help of Sydney’s best criminal defence team, you can give yourself the best possible defence against the charges – so that you can get on with your life without worrying about the consequences of a criminal conviction.

Our expert lawyers have appeared in countless fraud cases and have a proven track record of obtaining excellent results, even where the prosecution case is strong.

Unlike other law firms who may simply encourage you to fight the matter in court, our lawyers will carefully scrutinise the evidence in order to identify weaknesses or problems with the prosecution case.

We will then write to the prosecution explaining these problems and asking for the charges to be dropped.

This means that our clients are often spared the time and expense of a defended hearing.

However, should the prosecution refuse to drop the charges, you can rest assured that our criminal law experts will fight to ensure that you receive the most lenient outcome.

Our respected senior lawyers will represent you at all major court dates and will use their highly developed advocacy skills to examine all relevant witnesses and present all favourable evidence in a compelling manner.

We can also assist you where you simply wish to plead guilty, by preparing compelling sentencing submissions which focus on the positive features of your case.

Our ability to consistently obtain outstanding results in complex fraud matters is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our skilled lawyers.

Call us today on (02) 9261 8881 to book a FREE first appointment with our dedicated fraud specialists.

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