Larceny in NSW
Larceny is the wrongful act of taking away someone’s property with the intent of depriving the owner’s property permanently.
According to the New South Wales Crime Act section 117, larceny is considered a crime that can lead up to five years of imprisonment if proven guilty. For a conviction to happen, there should be the elements of mens rea and actus reus, which means guilty mind and guilty act. The prosecution needs to prove the defendant has the intention to take away a person’s property, knowing it is not his and no intention of returning it. (1)
Many often confuse the terms robbery, theft, and burglary. Here is the difference:
- Theft: Basically, with theft, there are elements of the property being taken away against the consent and depriving the property owner. It is often used interchangeably with larceny, and this will depend on the place you are living.
- Burglary: It is the act of entering a person’s dwelling with the intention to commit a crime. You can be convicted even without any item being taken away. You can be charged with burglary when you break into a building or non-building such as a tent.
Pushing an open door or window even without force can be considered as breaking in, and even when she/he doesn’t enter the structure completely but uses a hand to get something. According to the statistics, as many as 238,100 households experience break-ins from June 2019-June 2020. (2)
- Robbery: It is taking away something with the use of force or threat. It is considered a violent crime. Giving threats when taking the property even if it does not belong to the owner is still robbery. An example is a bank clerk force to open a vault.
What Actions Might Constitute Larceny?
Some examples of larceny are pickpocketing, shoplifting, purse-snatching, theft of bicycles, motorcycles, and coin-operated machines.
Certain elements should be present to constitute larceny. The absence of one or the other may not lead to a conviction.
- Carrying or taking away
This means taking the possession away from the owner and gaining control over it. It is considered larceny if you took a bracelet that you do not own and carry it outside the room or premise where it is found without the owner’s permission or knowledge.
- Tangible, personal property
The item involved should be tangible and is a personal property of someone. It means the property is seen, felt, and held. Therefore, services or labour are not under the subject of larceny. Larceny is a crime against possession. It also means animals such as pet does not fall under larceny.
If the item was taken away with the owner’s consent, then he/she cannot be charged with larceny. In many instances, deceit or force is often used to take the property away without the knowledge of the owner. This also indicates the intent.
Larceny is a specific intent crime. Prosecutor needs to prove that the person has the intent to permanently take away the item from the owner to establish larceny.
Possible Defences of Larceny
To recap the basic definition of larceny, it is the taking away of property without the owner’s consent while having the intention to deprive him/her of the item permanently. So, what are the possible defences for larceny?
- Belief of ownership
A person who took an item from somebody else but thinking or believing it belonged to him/her can use this as a defence against the case. You may be charged with larceny if it is proven that it was yours to use and take.
- Given Consent
Since larceny requires the absence of consent, giving consent can discredit you from the charge. There are instances where the owner consent to the idea of someone taking away an item in order to get an insurance claim.
- Under Coercion
Any use of force and threats to push someone to commit the crime may result in acquittal of the crime.
If you are intoxicated with alcohol, and your lawyer may be able to prove that a lack of judgment to properly identify what is yours, which led to the incident, the charge may be dismissed or the sentence reduced. Your lawyer will have to present evidence to support that claim.
What the Police Must Prove
There must be sufficient pieces of evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. The police must show that:
- You took the item/property that does not belong to you
- That you took it without the consent of the owner
- You have no intention to return it to the owner
Get the right help
If you are facing serious criminal charges such as larceny, get the right help. Look for attorneys that have the experience, skills, and knowledge to defend you in court. Each case has its own challenges, but a good lawyer knows how to come up with a good strategy and advocates for your rights.
It will work with the justice system and give you the best outcome from any charges you are facing. Do not just hire any lawyer; look for lawyers with years of experience handling criminal cases. It would be best if you tapped a criminal defence lawyer to help you every step of the way; from filling of paperwork to presenting pieces of evidence in court, the lawyer will be your legal advisor throughout the legal process.
If you find yourself charged before the courts for Larceny, then you need professional legal representation such as Chaddy Mardini, call now on 0412 719 705.