Do you have a question about criminal law offences?


Theft (larceny) is an offence under the Crimes Act 1900.

It differs from the offence of breaking and entering because the former typically involves entry into the premises of another, generally through damage to property.

Theft is punishable by a maximum penalty of five (5) years, but only if it is the sole offence committed at any given occasion. If coupled with the actual breaking and entering into someone else’s property, the maximum penalty is increased to fourteen (14) years. This is because the right to privacy is of paramount interest under the law. Any violation of one’s right to privacy committed together with another offence (in this case, theft) will have an increased penalty.

But what exactly constitutes theft? The following are the essential elements of the offence:

1.) The property belongs to another other than the accused – This means that the victim is the legal owner of the property, although the actual physical possession is not with him;
2.) It is taken and carried away – The property must have been actually and physically moved, no matter how slight;
3.) Without the consent of the owner.

While the above elements are essential to the commission of the offence of theft, another three elements are needed which relate to the mental state of the accused at the time of commission. These are:

4.) The accused must have the intention of permanently depriving the owner of the property – The deprivation must not merely be temporary;
5.) The act of taking was without a claim of right made in good faith – The accused must not be under the belief that he had a legal right to the stolen property;
6.) The property was taken dishonestly – The act of taking must not have been a mistake.

In order to hold the accused guilty of theft, all six elements must be present at the time of taking.

This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. Criminal lawyers Parramatta, Criminal lawyers Liverpool, Criminal lawyers PenrithCriminal lawyers Macarthur, Criminal Lawyers Parramatta

Nicholson, SC DCJ. (Feb. 7, 2007). R v Christopher Ryan [2007] NSWDC 50. In New South

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

Ask a Question - It Is Free