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Theft of Mail

Theft of Mail is an offence under Section 471.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

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

  1. You dishonestly appropriated an article in the course of post, including one that was lost or wrongly delivered, you dishonestly appropriated a mail receptacle, you dishonestly appropriated a postal message, and
  2. You intended to permanently deprive another of it under the section, an act is ‘dishonest’ even if you were willing to pay for the item

You are consider to have ‘intended to permanently deprive another’ if:

  1. You appropriated the item without meaning for another to lose it, and
  2. You intended to dispose of the item without regard to another’s rights

Borrowing or lending the item amounts to permanently depriving another if it is done for a period and in circumstances that make it equivalent to outright taking or disposal.

Defences to the charge include:

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

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