Larceny


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Being charged with larceny can have a negative impact on your career and future prospects. However, with the help of Sydney’s best criminal lawyers you can ensure that you get the best possible outcome in your larceny case – leaving you free to get on with your life.

Larceny, also known as theft or stealing, involves taking someone else’s property without their permission and without any intention of returning it.

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

Before you can be found guilty of larceny, the prosecution has to prove six factors:

  • You took and carried away property
  • The property that was taken belonged to someone else
  • The person who owned the property did not give permission for you to take it
  • You did not intend to return the property to the owner
  • You did not have a ‘claim of right’ to the property
  • You took the property dishonestly

If you feel that the prosecution may not be able to prove each and every one of these six factors beyond a reasonable doubt, you may consider entering a plea of ‘not guilty’ to the charges.

Our highly experienced criminal law experts have a proven track record of winning larceny matters and can then help you present your side of the story in a persuasive manner in court to maximize your chances of obtaining a favourable outcome in your case.

In some cases, we can even push to have the charges dropped before you end up in court by finding problems with the prosecution case and raising these at an early stage.

Our knowledgeable experts can also assist in identifying any possible defences to the charges, for example:

Pleading Guilty

By pleading guilty to the charges, you will be accepting responsibility for the charges laid against you.

If this is a path you wish to pursue, you can enter a plea of ‘guilty’ early in the proceedings. You will then proceed to sentencing to have the appropriate penalty determined.

Pleading guilty at the outset can actually be beneficial in some cases, as it shows the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions. This can help you achieve a more lenient penalty, and it will also mean that you will avoid the time and expense involved in a defended hearing.

However, it is always in your best interests to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer before pleading guilty, as there may be some way in which you can fight the charges and secure a verdict of ‘not guilty.’

You may also be wondering what kinds of penalties you could face if you plead guilty.

The maximum penalty for larceny depends on the value of the property taken:

  • Where the property is worth $5,000 or less, the maximum penalty is 12 months imprisonment, and/or a fine of $5,500.
  • Where the property is worth more than $5,000, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of $5,500.

Usually, larceny matters are dealt with in the Local Court in front of a magistrate – but in serious cases, your matter might be heard in the District Court before a judge. If your matter is heard in the District Court, you could face a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

However, imprisonment is only ever imposed as a last resort. This means that you will not go to gaol in most larceny cases.

With the help of our persuasive advocates, you may be able to secure a much lesser penalty by presenting your case in the most positive light. The types of penalties that the court could impose include:

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

Larceny may seem like a relatively minor offence; however it can have lasting consequences.

In most larceny cases, you will end up with a criminal conviction – meaning that the offence will be recorded on your criminal record. Having a criminal record can have a negative impacton your job and travel prospects.

However, by getting a good criminal defence lawyer on your side, you might be able to walk away without a conviction on your record.

An experienced criminal lawyer will fight hard to convince the judge or magistrate to issue you with a ‘section 10,’ which means that while you will be found guilty of the offence, no conviction will be recorded on your criminal record, leaving your work and travel plans unaffected!

At Sydney Criminal Lawyers, we fight hard to get our clients ‘section 10’s’ in all larceny matters. Our expert knowledge of the law has enabled us to get our clients section 10’s even in the most difficult larceny matters.

So give us a call today on (02) 9261 8881 and find out how we can help you win your larceny case!

More Information on Larceny

If you’ve been charged with larceny, you might want to find out more information about the charge and how it could impact your life.

We have included some additional detailed information in the sections below to help you better understand how a larceny charge could affect you.

What does the prosecution need to prove?

In order for you to be found guilty of larceny, the prosecution must prove six elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

If they are unable to prove each and every one of these factors, you will be found ‘not guilty’ of larceny.

1. You took and carried away property

For there to be a larceny, the property must be physically moved away from the owner.

2. The property that was taken belonged to someone else

The property that you took must have been owned, possessed or controlled by someone other than yourself.

3. The person who owned the property did not give permission for you to take it

There will be no larceny if the owner of the property gave you permission or consent to take it. Permission can be written, verbal, or communicated through actions.

4. You did not intend to return the property to the owner

The prosecution must prove that you intended to ‘permanently deprive the owner of the property.’ This means that there will be no larceny where you can prove that you only took the property for some temporary purpose.

However, you will not be able to take property and then claim that you intended to return it at some later date where the evidence shows that you obtained some personal benefit from the property.

5. You did not have a ‘claim of right’ to the property

A ‘claim of right’ means that you honestly and genuinely believed that you were legally entitled to the property.

The entitlement must be a legal rather than a moral entitlement. This means that you must believe that you actually own the property or have an interest in it; you can’t just claim that you were entitled to the goods for some moral purpose.

It won’t be necessary for you to prove that you recovered the exact property that you believed you were entitled to; you will still be able to rely on the defence where you took property of the same value as that which you believed was yours.

For example, if your friend refused to return your guitar valued at $700, and you instead took $700 cash from them, you will be able to claim that you were legally entitled to that $700.

However, you won’t be able to take property worth more than what you were legally entitled to – in the above example, it would be unreasonable for you to take $1000 cash and claim that you were entitled to that sum.

6. You took the property dishonestly

The prosecution must prove that you took the property ‘dishonestly’ – in other words, it must be proved that the theft was not an honest mistake on your part. So, if you honestly forgot to return something to a friend, this will not count as larceny.

The court will determine whether or not your actions were dishonest by applying a ‘reasonable person’ test. This means that the court will consider whether a reasonable person in your position would have acted differently.

What penalties could I face?

As mentioned above, the maximum penalty that you could face for larceny depends on two factors – the value of the property that was taken, and which court your matter is heard in.

  • Where the property is worth $5,000 or less, the maximum penalty is 12 months imprisonment, and/or a fine of $5,500.
  • Where the property is worth more than $5,000, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of $5,500.

Usually, larceny matters are dealt with in the Local Court in front of a magistrate – but in serious cases, your matter might be heard in the District Court before a judge. If your matter is heard in the District Court, you could face a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

However, imprisonment is only ever used as a last resort. Statistics indicate that the most common penalty for a larceny offence is a fine, with the average fine being $300. The next most common penalty is a section 9 good behaviour bond, which is a good behaviour bond that also incurs a conviction on your criminal record.

Even though the most common penalties may seem lenient, it’s important to get a good criminal defence lawyer on your side. This is because, in most cases, you will end up with a conviction on your criminal record, which can affect your ability to work and travel.

However, with the help of an experienced criminal defence lawyer, you could end up walking away without a conviction at all. This is known as a ‘section 10,’ which means that while you will be found guilty of the offence, no conviction will be recorded on your criminal record.

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