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Stealing or Destroying Court or Public Records

Stealing or destroying court or public records is an offence under Section 138 of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison.

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

You stole, or for any fraudulent purpose took from its place of deposit for a time or took from any person who had lawful custody of, or unlawfully and intentionally or recklessly cancelled, obliterated, injured or destroyed the whole or any part of any record, document or writing of, or belonging to, any court or relating to any matter or cause, whether civil or criminal, and whether pending or terminated, or relating to the public business or any public office or employment under the Queen.

Defences to the charge include:

  1. Duress, and
  2. Claim of right, which means you genuinely believed you were legally entitled to the property

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