Is Theft Punishable in Australia?

The offence of stealing in Australia includes behaviours or any form of wrongdoing that is punishable and also stipulated under the Criminal Code 2002 ACT. The offences of theft can take different forms under the law, but each of them is dealt with separately, following certain sections under the criminal code.

Before you hire a reputed theft crime lawyer to defend yourself in such a case, know that if the court finds you guilty of a theft offence, there are chances to show up on the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check. In this guide, you will learn whether theft is punishable in Australia and the associated penalties. 

What is Considered a Stealing Offence? 

As per the ACT law, stealing is an offence and is defined as the intention, attempt or act of unlawfully acquiring another’s property to:

  • Sell or dispose of the property without having the consent of the owner 
  • To use or move the property without having the approval of the owner 
  • To deprive the owner of the property 
  • To convert or try to convert any property belonging to an individual that they trust. 

Who is the Property Owner? 

The property will belong to anyone who has: 

  • Possession or control of that specific item 
  • An ownership right or interest in that item.

What Are Some Related Offences Considered as Stealing Offences Under Australian Law? 

There are specific offences that are under the Act, as stealing is linked to crimes. For instance, if you unlawfully possess any individual’s property to deprive them of that item, you will be guilty of theft. Also, if you unlawfully acquire another person’s property or try to hurt someone in the process, you will be guilty of robbery. Since, these kinds of offences are indictable and usually dealt with in a Supreme court. 

What is Not Stealing as Per Australian Law? 

Not every instance of an individual moving an item needs to be a stealing offence. It will not be considered stealing if: 

  • An item is moved for temporary use without the owner’s consent until the one who moved the property looks to use that item as theirs.
  • However, if an individual takes any item by mistake and is able to prove it, it cannot be taken as a stealing offence. One of the examples is driving another individual’s car in a drunken state. 
  • For instance, before hiring a theft lawyer, know that if the individual believed they were justified to use that property during that time, it would not be counted as stealing. Since, it would not be a stealing offence even if their belief was wrong, as they were unaware at that time. 

What Are Some Penalties for a Theft Offence? 

The Australian party will find that individual guilty if they wanted to or permanently deprived the owners of the property. However, it is also considered a theft offence if the individual unlawfully or dishonestly acquired the property that belonged to another individual. 

As per Australian law, there will be maximum penalties of: 

  • Ten years imprisonment 
  • $1000 penalty units 
  • Or even both 

In the case of minor theft, Section 321 of the Act says that minor theft is not as serious as theft. Such a summary offence is usually dealt with only with the help of a magistrate. Therefore, the penalty for a minor theft offence is as follows: 

  • Six months imprisonment 
  • $7500 penalty 
  • Or even both. 

Theft That Involves a Motorcycle 

The Australian court under Section 318 of the Act can convict you of that theft or attempted the theft of a vehicle if the individual: 

  • Unlawfully or deceivingly takes a motor vehicle that belongs to another person 
  • Since, it does not allow you to take the car from the individual it belongs to.  

The individual dishonestly controls or operates in any motor vehicle that belongs to another person. The vehicle was also dishonestly taken by the accused without an individual’s consent of the individual to whom it belongs. The penalty is 500 penalty units or five years imprisonment. 

What Are the Offences for Receiving Stolen Property? 

The Australian court will convict you of any stealing offence under Section 313 if you knowingly received the following: 

  • Proceeds from any stolen property or item 
  • Bought a stolen property 
  • Used that stolen property.

Australia’s Criminal Act will prescribe a maximum penalty of: 

  • 10 years’ imprisonment
  • 1000 penalty units 
  • Both 

But, if it is found that the accused has retained the property, they will not be convicted of both the offences in the same charge under the Australian law. 

Read more: What Happens If You Steal In Australia?

What is Attempted Theft? 

If an individual goes to a place where they wish to commit theft with any equipment or materials to use for violation, they will be guilty of a theft attempt. The Criminal Acts will prescribe penalties of: 

  • Three years imprisonment 
  • 300 penalty units 
  • Both.

Looking to Steal with an Offensive Weapon 

For instance, if the offender or accused goes to the intended place with any offensive weapon or firearms, the Australian court will convict them of the specific offence. Therefore, the prosecutor must prove that the accused used that weapon for theft. They will have to pay penalties of: 

  • Five years imprisonment 
  • 500 penalty units 
  • Both.

Associate with Criminal Defense Lawyers Perth 

However, If you have been caught stealing in Australia or had a stolen item in your possession, you will have to pay penalties as per the law. In such cases, you will need the assistance of the best criminal defence lawyers in your area. Contact Criminal Defence Lawyers Perth to hire the best lawyers to provide you with proper advice and the best defences to help you.