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Being Unlawfully in Possession of Property

Being Unlawfully in Possession of Property is also known as ‘goods in custody’ and is an offence under Section 527C of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 6 months in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You had any thing in your custody or in the custody of another person or in or on premises, whether or not owned or occupied by you or you gave any thing to a person not legally entitled to it, and
  1. That thing may be reasonably suspected of being stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained.

The maximum penalty increases to 12 months in prison where the thing is a motor vehicle or part thereof or a vessel or part thereof.

You are not guilty of the offence if you are able to establish ‘on the balance of probabilities’ that you had no reasonable grounds for suspecting that the thing was stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained.

Other defences to the charge include:

  1. Claim of right which is where you genuinely believed you were legally entitled to the thing
  2. Duress, and
  3. Necessity

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