Stealing is serious criminal offence however if the theft involves a Commonwealth entity then the maximum penalties increase to up to 10 years imprisonment. It’s important to seek legal advice from an experienced criminal lawyer if you have been charged with theft.
What the law says
Sections 131.1 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code states:
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if:
(a) the person dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of the property; and
(b) the property belongs to a Commonwealth entity.
(2) For the purposes of this Code, an offence against subsection (1) is to be known as the offence of theft.
(3) Absolute liability applies to the paragraph (1)(b) element of the offence of theft.
(4) Section 15.4 (extended geographical jurisdiction-category D) applies to an offence against subsection (1)
Section 15.4 states
If a law of the Commonwealth provides that this section applies to a particular offence, the offence applies:
(a) whether or not the conduct constituting the alleged offence occurs in Australia; and
(b) whether or not a result of the conduct constituting the alleged offence occurs in Australia.
What the police must prove
In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt.
1. The accused dishonestly appropriated property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of the property; and
2. The property belonged to the Commonwealth.
It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence. Click here to learn more about identification evidence.
The Maximum penalty for the offence of Theft is 10 years imprisonment.
Which court will hear the matter
This matter is Commonwealth Offence which means it is dealt with in the District Court.
Possible defences to this offence include but are not limited to
- The accused did not dishonestly appropriate the property.
- The accused did not intend to permanently deprive the other of the property.
- The property did not belong to the Commonwealth.
- Identification i.e. it was not the accused