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Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Robbery Offences Robbery Offences and Penalties in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Robbery Offences and Penalties in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

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Lots of offences are grouped under the stealing offences charges in Australia. The conviction for a robbery charge in the Australia Capital Territory is more grievous and is usually treated in a higher level court.

What is a Robbery Offence?

The court treats a stealing offence as stated in Section 309 of the Criminal Code 2002. It validates a robbery charge if the offender does any of these on the victim;

An item irrespective of the value was stolen from the victim;

  • There existed the use of threat or actual violence to commit the offence
  • The purpose of the violence was to obtain stolen property.

In court, the prosecutor or other police must through any means possible prove that the accused person committed any of these offences. And must prove that when committing the theft, or immediately before or immediately after, the person

  • Used force on someone else; or
  • Threatened to use force then and there on someone else.

The offence for Robbery is a serious criminal offence that will show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check in the ACT.

What is a stealing offence?

The law defines a stealing offence as the attempt, behavior, intention or the act of dishonestly taking someone else's property with intention to;

  • Deprive the owner of the property,
  • Sell or dispose of the property without the consent of the owner,
  • Use or move the property without the owner of the property,
  • Convert or attempt to convert a property belonging to another person that they held in trust.

What happens if the prosecutor cannot prove the offence?

If the prosecutor cannot prove that force or threat was used, the court may change the charge to an ordinary stealing offence. The Judge or Jury will treat the offence as an ordinary stealing or theft offence. If the accused is found guilty of the “changed” stealing offence, the court will impose the appropriate penalties as issued’s criminal code.

If force was not used immediately to the stealing

The Jury will not consider the offence as robbery if force was not used during or immediately before or after the stealing offence.

Otherwise, the court will treat the matter as independent stealing offences or an assault case in the ACT if violence or threat is used.

What court hears a robbery offence?

If charged with robbery, you must appear before a Supreme Court. The offence of robbery is an indictable offence under the law. Such matters are heard by a panel of judges or jury.

Your legal representative will have the task to defend and refute every charge or evidence presented by the prosecutors.

However, for lesser offences (Summary Offences) or circumstances of the robbery, the parties may agree to deal with the matter Magistrate court.

What penalties does the court impose for robbery offences?

Robbery is an indictable offence under the Criminal Code 2002. If the Judge or Jury finds you guilty of robbery, they will impose penalties up to the maximum stipulated in Section 309 of the Criminal Code.

If the offences are dealt with in the Supreme Court

The penalty for robbery is a fine of 1400 penalty units (i.e. $210,000),

  • 14 years imprisonment or,
  • Both

If the offences are dealt with in a Magistrate Court

Offences dealt in the Magistrate court of the ACT are usually summary offences, especially where the property of the value stolen is less than $30,000.

The court will impose penalties usually less than 3 years imprisonment, including other fines the court considers necessary.

Other offences related to a robbery offence

Other offences where the accused uses a weapon or attempts to harm the owner (directly/indirectly) in the process can be treated separately under any of this category.

Aggravated Robbery offences

Section 310 of the Act stipulates cases for aggravation of robbery offences. However, depending on the circumstance, the jury may or may not deem the offence to have a case of aggravation.

Some circumstances that are deemed as having aggravating circumstances are;

  • Committing a robbery offence in a group; one or more people
  • Commit a robbery while having a weapon in their possession; it doesn’t matter whether they use the weapon or not.
  • Robbery involving a senior or someone above 60 years old

If found guilty of aggravated robbery, an offender faces a fine of;

  • 2500 penalty units (i.e. $375,000),
  • 25 years imprisonment or
  • Both.

You can consent to have an aggravated robbery charge dealt with summarily by a magistrate if it relates to money or property with a value of $30,000 or less.

Aggravated Burglary

If the accused or offender goes to the place with an offensive weapon or other firearms, the court will convict them of this offence under Section 312 of the Act. The prosecutor has to prove that the accused intended the weapon as an accessory for the Burglary.

The Criminal Code prescribes penalties of;

  • 2,000 penalty units,
  • Imprisonment for 20 years or,
  • Both.

Offences for receiving stolen property

The court will convict you of a stealing offence if you knowingly received;

  • Proceeds from a stolen item/property,
  • Purchased a stolen property
  • Used The stolen property

The Criminal Act under Section 313 prescribes a maximum penalty of

  • 1000 penalty units, or
  • Imprisonment for 10 years
  • or both.

However, if the accused retains the property, they cannot be convicted of both the offences in the same charge under the law;

Who is the owner of the property?

  • The property belongs to anyone having;
  • Possession or control of the item, or
  • Having any proprietary right or interest in it (asides equitable interest; It arises from an agreement to transfer or grant an interest, or from a constructive trust).

Where there are more than one owners

If the property belongs to two or more people, referencing any person to whom the property belongs means referencing all of them.

If the property is subject to a trust or other obligation, the person to whom the property belongs includes all who have a right to enforce the trust; and an intention to thwart the trust constitutes an attempt to deprive such person of the property.

The property of a corporation sole belongs to the corporation despite a vacancy in the corporation.

Other stealing offences under the Criminal Code

There are several special stealing offences in the Criminal Code 2002. One of them includes;

  • Taking off with a Motor Vehicle without the owner’s consent (Section 318). This stipulates a maximum penalty of 500 penalty units, 5 years imprisonment, or both.

What is not considered stealing under the law?

Not all instances of a person moving an item/property can qualify as a stealing offence. It can hardly qualify as stealing if the;

Item is moved for temporal use (without the consent of the owner); unless the taker plans to use the item as theirs.

If the person takes the item by mistake (and proves it), it is not considered a stealing offence. An example can be driving another person's car in a groggy/drunken state.

If the person believed they were justified to the property at the time, it will not be considered stealing. It is still not a stealing offence if their belief was wrong but didn't know at the time.

Defenses for a Robbery Offence

The ACT Supreme Court deals with robbery offences as a serious criminal offence under the law.

If you receive a court summons for a robbery charge, you should contact the services of a criminal lawyer experienced in ACT legislation.

Having a robbery offence in your Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check can damage your prospects or applications where your criminal record will be assessed. For robbery offences, it can be difficult to convince your victim to have the matter settled in a Magistrate court.

To defend a robbery offence successfully, your lawyer must explore any of these arguments in court.

There was no threat or use of force

If your counsel can successfully argue that you did not use or attempt to use force to commit the offence, the court can withdraw the robbery offence and convert it to ordinary theft.

You did not take anything from the person

If your counsel can successfully argue that you did not take anything from the victim, the Judge may acquit you of the robbery offence, or try you on another offence relating to the charge.

You did not intend to deprive them of the item,

Your lawyer can argue that you did not intend to steal the property;

  • Was falsely thought to have robbed
  • The owner was scared and ran off

You were not the one who committed the robbery

Your lawyer can object to the charge of robbery by stating that it was a case of mistaken identity. There are cases where a person is falsely accused, and charged with a robbery offence due to coincidence or having any of their property at the scene of the crime.

Successfully raise duress or self-defence as the reason

The court may consider a defence where the accused person can successfully prove that they acted under duress or were acting in self-defence for the act.

An example is where a person snatches a car to attend to an emergency (pregnant woman, terminal actions, and so on.).

You had a legal claim over the property claimed to be stolen

Under the law, it is impossible to steal your property. A person may charge you of a robbery offence if they were unaware that you had legal right over the property.

You thought you had a claim of right

The Court cannot convict you of a robbery offence if they believed you reasonably thought that you had claimed over the property. However, the court may convict you of the violent acts or threats or any other assault or injury for the action.

Do Robbery Offences show up on a nationally coordinated criminal history check

Robbery offences are a serious criminal offence. When convicted, the offence will show up on a nationally coordinated criminal history check.

You can obtain your national police check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

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