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What are Larceny and Robbery Offences?


Larceny, commonly referred to as theft or stealing, is the taking of another person’s property without their consent. It requires the following elements to be proven:

  • the property belonged to someone other than the accused;
  • it was be taken and carried away;
  • the property was taken without the consent of the owner of the property;
  • the property was taken with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it;
  • the property was taken without a claim of right made in good faith; and
  • the property was taken dishonestly.

There are numerous defences to a larceny charge, including:

  • no intention to permanently deprive – if the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the property was not formed when the property was taken;
  • claim of right to the property – if the accused honestly and genuinely believed they had a legal entitlement to the entire of the property taken
  • abandonment – if you find the property abandoned and there are no reasonable steps to find its owner

If you return the item can you be charged with theft?

Larceny requires that when you took the property you had the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. If you always had the intention of returning the item, you are likely to be found ‘not guilty’ of theft.

If you find something is it theft?

If you find a property and there are reasonable steps which can be taken to find the owner which you do not take, you may be found guilty of ‘larceny by finding’.

Is it theft if it is your own property?

No, if you honestly and genuinely believe that you have a legal entitlement to the entire property, this is the defence called ‘claim of right’.


Robbery is a hybrid offence of larceny and assault, containing elements of both offences and is covered by Part 4 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). It requires:

  • the unlawful taking and carrying away of property with the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the property;
  • the property was taken without the owner’s valid consent; Consent is not seen as valid if influenced by force or threats
  • the property was taken from another person; and
  • the property was taken by actual violence or through putting the owner in fear of actual violence.

Examples of robbery

  • threatening a person with violence if they do not have over their property;
  • assaulting a person and successfully stealing their property; and
  • assaulting someone and being unsuccessful in stealing their property.

There are certain circumstances which can make the offence seen as more serious, known as aggravating factors. These can increase the maximum penalty available from the maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment for ‘basic’ robbery. These include:

  • aggravated robbery such as use of physical violence, intention or reckless infliction of bodily harm, deprivation of any person’s liberty;
  • robbery with wounding the infliction of grievous bodily harm
  • armed robbery – the accused was armed with an offensive weapon
  • robbery in company – robbery in the company of another person

These factors can be applied solely or in combination, with robbery while being armed with an offensive weapon or in the company of another person and grievous bodily harm is inflicted on a person having a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.

Robbery may be downgraded to larceny if a plea deal is accepted by the prosecution. This can greatly increase the chance of avoiding imprisonment.

Which Court will I appear in for robbery?

Depending on aggravating factors to the assault element of the offence and the value of the property stolen, the matter can be elected to be dealt with in the District Court, however, if no election is made it is generally dealt with in the Local Court.

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