Robbery is both a violent and a property offence, which makes it a composite offence. It’s a form of stealing or theft that involves an assault. When you’re found guilty of robbery, you can be imprisoned for 14 years maximum, asked to pay the fine of 1400 penalty units or penalised with both [1]. 

Being an indictable offence, you have the right to have the hearing heard by a judge and jury if you’re accused of robbery. Nevertheless, you can also agree to have the case dealt with immediately by a magistrate if it involves a property that has a value of $30,000 or less [2].

What are the differences between stealing, robbery and burglary?

Stealing, robbery and burglary are often used interchangeably. However, these offences are clearly different from one another.

Stealing or theft is also known as larceny. To commit a theft, you have to take someone else’s personal, tangible property without consent and with the intention to permanently dispossess the owner of its use or possession while taking it. It commonly involves money or any physical goods that can be transported. When committing theft, you are also acting against the owner’s interests. An example of theft is shoplifting [3].

Theft is also considered an indictable offence, with a penalty of 1000 penalty units, 10 years imprisonment or both [2].

  • Robbery is also theft but with the use of force or threat of force in doing it. You commit the offence of robbery when you take something from a person and, immediately before or after committing it, you use force or threaten to use force on that person to make the offence and escape the scene of the crime. 

Robbery has elements that are not required in theft. First, a robbery cannot be committed unless something is taken from someone else. It involves another person from whom you take the property from. He/she may be holding it, or it is within his/her control. Second, robbery is a violent crime but an injury to the victim is not required. For it to be considered robbery, there must be any type of force used to take the property from someone [2,3].

  • Burglary is another crime that usually involves theft. It’s theft with trespassing on someone’s property. However, you don’t automatically have to take any property to be convicted of burglary. To commit this offence, you must enter a structure or house with the intent to commit a crime inside. The structure may be a non-residential building like a caravan or any other vehicle, a natural formation or a temporary structure like a tent.

Even without actually committing a crime within the building, you can be convicted of this offence. Also, the crime you intend to commit doesn’t need to be robbery or theft, and no force or violence needs to be used. You can be charged with burglary even if the only force you use is to push the door or lift an unlocked or open window to enter the structure. Additionally, you are already committing burglary even if you haven’t completely entered the structure. Just by lifting a window and extending your arms or an object to get something from within the structure is burglary [2,3].

Similar to robbery, the penalty for burglary is a fine of 1400 penalty units, 14 years of imprisonment or both. If the property involved has a value of $30,000 or less, you can also agree to have the burglary charges heard summarily by a magistrate [2].

How will you be found guilty of robbery?

If you’ve been charged with robbery, the prosecution must prove the following for you to be found guilty:

  • you committed theft,
  • immediately before or immediately after committing theft, you used a force on someone else or threatened to use force then and there and
  • you intended to steal or escape from the crime scene.

If you believe that you are innocent of the crime, our team from Mardini Defence Lawyers can help you fight the charges and make the prosecution case doubtful until they cannot prove these factors beyond a reasonable doubt.

Circumstances of aggravation

A robbery can be aggravated with factors that increase the severity of such an offence. To be found guilty of aggravated robbery, the three elements of robbery and the circumstances of aggravation must be proven by the prosecution. These circumstances that make a robbery more serious are as follows [2,4]:

  • inflicted bodily harm to a person,
  • was in company with one or more other persons,
  • committed robbery with a weapon in possession (used or unused during the offence),
  • threatened to kill a person,
  • threatened violence against a person who was 60 years old or older and
  • when someone is detained against their will.

When you are found guilty of aggravated burglary, you may be given the penalty of 25 years imprisonment, a fine of 2500 penalty units or both. Again, for a property value of $30,000 or less, you can agree to have the aggravated robbery charges heard summarily by a magistrate.

What are the possible defences for robbery?

When you are charged with robbery, you can validly defend the charge by proving that [1]:

  • you did not intend to steal the item,
  • you did not threaten or use force on the person,
  • you did not take or steal anything from the person and
  • the item is yours and you had a claim of right over it.

As a defence to a robbery charge, the claim of right involves a belief that you have a genuine claim of right to a certain property or money taken. The charge will fail because you cannot steal your own property [5].

Pleading guilty

If you want to agree that you committed a robbery and admit the charges against you, you can plead guilty. By doing so, you may get a more lenient penalty by showing remorse for your actions [4,5].

 

If you need legal advice or representation in robbery charges or any legal matter, contact Mardini Defence Lawyers.  We can help you get the best possible outcome for robbery charges. We also provide a free initial consultation. Call us now on +61412719705

 

References:

  1. Makela, Michelle. “Robbery (Act).” Armstrong Legal, www.armstronglegal.com.au/criminal-law/act/offences/robbery.
  2. “Stealing Offences in the Australian Capital Territory.” Gotocourt.Com.Au, www.gotocourt.com.au/criminal-law/act/stealing.
  3. Theoharis, Mark. “Differences Between Theft, Burglary and Robbery.” Criminal Defense Lawyer, www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/resources/criminal-defense/criminal-offense/differences-between-theft-burglary-robbery.
  4. “Criminal Lawyers in Sydney for Robbery Charges.” Sydney Criminal Lawyers, www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/criminal/offences/robbery.
  5. “Criminal Lawyers for Robbery.” Australian Criminal Law Group, aclawgroup.com.au/criminal-law/offences/robbery.

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