If you live in NSW you might not be aware that stealing a plant from someone else’s garden is actually a criminal offence.
According to the Crimes Act 1900, section 520; it is an offence to steal plants or vegetables that don’t belong to you, or to destroy or damage them with intent to steal them.
In addition to stealing plants from gardens, it is also a criminal offence to steal plants from:
- Nursery grounds
If you are convicted of stealing plants, you could get a maximum prison term of six months, or a fine.
It is also a criminal offence to steal plants that are not growing, but that are being used, or that are going to be used, for food, medicine, dyeing or distillation.
This offence comes with a maximum penalty of a fine.
What penalty am I likely to get if found guilty of stealing plants from gardens?
Stealing or larceny offences come with a number of different penalties ranging from a good behaviour bond or fine, to a prison sentence.
The exact penalty you will receive for stealing plants from gardens or any other area will depend on the quantity of the plants stolen and their value, as well as a number of other circumstances.
While the maximum penalty for stealing plants that are growing is a six-month jail sentence, if you have good legal representation and it is your first offence, it is highly unlikely that you will get a prison sentence.
Some of the possible penalties you might receive include community service, home detention, a good behaviour bond, a suspended sentence or a fine.
A fine is the most likely penalty in most cases.
If you are convicted of any larceny offence it will show on your criminal record, which can make it difficult to travel in the future or work in certain types of employment, including security occupations, health care and with children.
Can I get a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order for stealing plants?
A section 10 dismissal or conditional release order is a finding of guilt without a criminal conviction.
The magistrate will take a number of different factors into consideration when deciding whether or not to give you a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order, including your previous history, any mitigating circumstances that might have led to the offence, and the likelihood that you will reoffend in the future.
If you get a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order you will not get a criminal record or be penalised further.
Your criminal lawyer can advise you on whether you are likely to be able to get a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order in your particular circumstances, and apply for one on your behalf in court; so you will not have to say anything.
What are the defences to a charge of stealing plants from gardens?
There are a few defences to theft charges, and these can include being able to prove that you had right of ownership of the plants or that the owner of the plants consented to you taking them.
If you plan to plead not guilty to a charge of stealing plants or anything else, it is important to speak to a lawyer who is experienced in criminal law, and who can advise you on the best way to run your case, and your best defence.