Larceny Charges

This criminal charge is sometimes called ‘shoplifting’, in circumstances where it is alleged that you stole from a shop or retail store.. This is the most common example of stealing. It is often surprising to many of our clients how these cases can be defended. Often ‘CCTV’ footages can be unclear, and unable to identify the person stealing the item, and therefore the charges could be dismissed.

Your options:

Plead not guilty:

In order to be convicted of larceny charges, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. That the property belonged to someone other than you;
  2. The property was taken and carried away;
  3. The taking was without the consent of the owner of the property;
  4. You must take the property with the intent of permanently depriving the owner of the property.

If any of the above elements cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt, then you will be found not guilty of the offence.

Further, you will be found not guilty of larceny charges if you can establish any of the following:

Our experienced criminal lawyers will advise you of your prospects of successfully defending any charge brought against you and fight to have you found not guilty of the offence.

Plead guilty:

If you agree with what the police are alleging against you, the way to get the best result is often to plead guilty as it demonstrates remorse and contrition as well as meaning that you will be entitled to a discount on your sentence. Generally, a discount of 25% will apply to a plea of guilty at an early stage of your court proceedings. Alternatively, it may be the case that one of our experienced solicitors can negotiate with prosecutors for you to plead guilty to a less serious charge.

Generally, the likely penalty for larceny charges will depend on your criminal record (if you have one), the value of the goods stolen and your personal circumstances.

The offence of Stealing/larceny carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $5,500.00 and/or 12 months imprisonment in the Local Court where the value of the property stolen does not exceed $5,000.00 and a maximum penalty of $5,500.00 and/or 2 years imprisonment in the Local Court where the value of the property stolen exceeds $5,000.00. In the District Court, the maximum penalty for the offence of Stealing/larceny is 5 years imprisonment. However, stealing/larceny is an offence sometimes dealt with pursuant to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentence Procedure) Act, meaning no conviction will be recorded, there is no other penalty and you will have no criminal record. To find out more about a section 10, click here.

Generally, penalties that a court can impose for any criminal offence in NSW are:

Case Study - Shoplifting - Inaccurate Description

Our client was charged with a larceny charge at DFO at Homebush.

After a random search of our client’s bag whilst she was shopping at Burwood Westfields, police found clothing stolen from DFO a few days prior.

The police alleged that our client was the person that stole the clothing from DFO (and escaped from security) and had simply left the clothing in her bag.

Whilst the security tags were still on the clothing, and it appeared it was the same clothing that was stolen, witnesses could not provide police with an accurate description of the offender who actually stole the clothing.

The police could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was our client who stole the clothing.  The charges were dismissed.

Case Study - Larceny by Employee - Faulty Deposit Box
Our client was charged with larceny after having stolen more than $5,000.00 from a faulty deposit box at a bank.

At the time the money was stolen from the deposit box, our client was in the process of depositing money for her own employer.

It became apparent from speaking to the client that she had a long complicated family history with her mother confiscating her wage to gamble since she was a teenager.

The evidence as to her family background was put to the court through a psychological report.

Ultimately, submissions were made that the taking of the property was the impulsive act  of a person who had never had financial independence on a account of manipulation by a family member.

The Magistrate accepted, in the circumstances, our client was unlikely to re-offend and dealt with her by way of section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act.

Case Study - Larceny by Clerk – Section 10 – Stealing Expired Food
Our client was charged with larceny by clerk, carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Our client worked as a chef at an exclusive hotel for over 14 years.

Whilst working he took food valued at $70.90 that was nearing the expiration date. The hotel became aware of this and reported it to police.

We assisted our client by representing him throughout the police investigation, court appearances and at the sentencing hearing subsequent to a plea of guilty.

We advised our client that this was a clear case for a section 10. However, a section 10 is always at the Magistrate’s discretion. We therefore prudently went about gathering evidence of our client’s upstanding position in the community and referees who supported our client.

At the sentence hearing in the Downing Centre Local Court the Chief Magistrate Henson was disinclined to order a section 10 due to the position of trust our client was in.

Our solicitor persistently argued to the Court that the circumstances warranted a section 10, including no prior criminal record, the unlikelihood our client would reoffend, our client’s remorse and the additional punishment a conviction would cause in hindering his future employment opportunities.

Eventually after persuasive argument, the Magistrate turned his mind and gave our client a section 10.

Our client now has a greater chance at finding new employment and remains a free man.

Case Study - Police Returned Confiscated Cash
Our client was a Mexican Tourist charged with Larceny. He pleaded guilty to stealing an expensive pair of Armani Sunglasses.

When our client was arrested the Police seized almost $5,000.00 in cash without reasonable grounds and without recording the money in the property docket given to our client. Effectively our client had no proof the Police had his money.

Our solicitor requested the Police review their CCTV footage which proved the Police had taken the money as an exhibit. Our solicitor attended the Police Station and successfully pressured the Police to return the money.

The sentence hearing took place at Waverley Local Court before Her Honour Magistrate Sullivan. In light of our client’s good character, evidence of his remorse and the return of the sunglasses on the sentence date, Her Honour dealt with our client by way of a section 10(1)(b) bond for 12 months.

This was a great result for our client who was free to return to Mexico with all his money.

Case Study - Section 10 for Larceny after Successful appeal to District Court
Our client was unrepresented in the local court. She pleaded not guilty then changed her plea to guilty on the day of her hearing.

Her charges were two counts of larceny (stealing). The items stolen included identification cards and $50 from inside a wallet found in the women’s bathroom of a Darling Harbour night club. The items were returned but the facts indicated this was a planned offence.

In the local court she was convicted and fined $200 for each offence. We acted for our client in a severity appeal to the Sydney District Court. Our client did not want the stigma of a criminal conviction.

The appeal was heard before His Honour Judge Lerve. His Honour was initially against allowing our client the leniency of a section 10 and the solicitor from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions made submissions against a section 10.

After hearing the argument put forward by our solicitor as to the ongoing punishment our client would suffer as a result of the convictions, particularly for offences of dishonesty, His Honour extended the leniency of a section 10(1)(b). Our client entered a bond for a period of 2 years which requires her to be of good behaviour.

This was a great result for our client.

Case Study - Extensive criminal history including larceny- avoids imprisonment
Our client was charged with obtaining property by deception and larceny, he came to us having exhausted all his avenues. He had a strong Ice and gambling addiction which controlled his life and his offending. He had been before the Court many times and was given every opportunity he could have, including section 10 bonds, section 9 bonds, section 12 bonds, Community Service. He was then caught in the revolving door of jail, breaching in Parole terms on a constant basis and returning to custody. His record included a spike in dishonesty offences from 2007 which quickly resulted in long jail sentences, overall having spent four years in custody on and off.
With the help of our solicitor’s dedicated work, we managed to turn 10 charges of a mix of dishonesty offences, into a non-custodial sentence with a view to full time rehabilitation. Our client was sentenced to an Intensive Corrections Order with a direction his time be spent at a full time rehabilitation centre by Magistrate Still at Burwood Local Court. A great result for our client considering his extensive criminal history.