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Robbery offences are some of the most serious forms of stealing actions and usually attract severe punishments under the Victorian State laws. The distinct property of this offence from other stealing offences is the presence of assault, threats of violence used on the offender. If the prosecution cannot prove the presence of assault or the likes, it can hardly qualify as a robbery offence.
The Crimes Act 1958 stipulates punishments, details and actions that constitute all forms of misdemeanours under the State of Victoria.
Robbery offences are a serious criminal offence and will show up on a national police check in Victoria.
In the majority of circumstances, robbery offences will not be expunged from an individual's criminal record as they are not eligible for the spent convictions scheme in Victoria.
Section 75 of the Act focuses on Robbery offences, related charges and all other offences that can constitute a robbery charge. The section governs the legislation o Robbery offences, and stipulates a robbery offence is committed where;
A person steals in Victoria or obtains a property illegally in the presence of the owner with;
The prosecutor must prove that the accused person-directed such an act of violence to complete or facilitate the stealing.
All these conditions must be satisfied before the court can accept the offence as a robbery offence.
Robbery offences are considered indictable charges and offences under the Victorian Courts. Indictable offences are handled in higher courts/District courts by default. However, if both parties of the robbery offence agree to hear the matter in a lower court, the Magistrate can preside over such matters.
All matters handled in a magistrate court cannot incur more than a 5-year penalty term for a single charge.
However, cases of armed robbery are too serious to be heard in the Magistrate court in Victoria. They are strictly indictable offences and must be heard in a County Court or Supreme Court. Matters heard in a County or Supreme court can attract higher penalties reaching life imprisonment.
Where a matter is dealt with as an indictment charge, it must pass through an initial committal hearing. This hearing is a periluminal qualification for hearing the matter in the higher courts. The committal hearing is heard in a Magistrate court if the person is charged in an adult court, and a Children’s court if they are charged as juveniles.
The purpose of the committal hearing is to assess the prosecution's argument and decide if the evidence substantially shows that the accused is culpable. However, If the evidence is insufficient, the court will dismiss the charge.
Under Section 75 of the Crimes Act 1958, a person guilty of robbery, or "assault with intent to rob", is guilty of an indictable crime, which incurs a level 4 imprisonment (15 years maximum).
Armed robbery is an irredeemable indictable offence. It includes cases where the offender while committing a stealing offence;
However, the use or threat of the weapon must be in connection or related to the stealing offence before the court can accept it as an armed robbery offence.
A person guilty of armed robbery is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to level 2 imprisonment (25 years maximum).
The aggravating circumstances for a robbery offence under the Sentencing Act 1991 occurs when;
The Prosecutor must prove before the court that the victim committed and should be convicted of the robbery offence. It must include evidence, witnesses, and arguments within the law that showed that the accused person.
To prove the case of theft; the accused must be proven to have dishonestly appropriated property belonging to someone else to permanently deprive the owner.
However, the property that was stolen must be capable of being stolen as provided by Div 2, Part 1 of the Crimes Act 1958 (VIC). It follows that the property must consist of any of these (or others the jury considers a property)
includes money and all other property real or personal including things in action and other intangible property.
Properties may include, but not limited to:
The accused used force or the fear of force
When the law speaks about the "use of force", it may be at the discretion of the jury to interpret what would have constituted "force" for the crime.
The definition of the force is not limited to being applied to the victim’s body alone. It can also be deemed as a force, even when it is applied to something the victim is carrying or other items, possession of the property the victim cares about.
The prosecutor can also prove that there was "force used" if the accused person put fear in the victim through threats of any sort. It can also include actions that made the victim feared that the threat would have happened on the spot or (in future).
The force was used before or at the time of the theft
The prosecutor must also satisfy the jury inquiry that the force was "related" to the stealing offence. If the jury does not consider the force to be concerning the offence, they will dismiss it as a robbery offence, and treat it under a different offence.
Not all use of violence or threats will amount to the jury finding the accused guilty of robbery offences. Where the prosecution cannot prove that the accused person “stole” the item, the jury will consider it as an assault case in Victoria or any other related matter.
For the jury to be convinced about the act of appropriation, the prosecution must prove that;
Several court decisions in the past have adjusted and reviewed the activities or tasks that can constitute a person appropriating a property
The Judge or Jury of a Higher court can find an accused person guilty of a stealing offence of vehicles, aircraft and other vehicles where;
Possessing or keeping the proceeds of stolen property can attract punishments for the original robbery offences. However, the Jury or Judge will require proof that you were aware that the item was stolen, and still harboured or received them.
The court will find guilty all those who;
You can also be guilty of "receiving stolen items" even when you don't have such goods with you. It is enough for the court, if you can obtain them from another (who kept it) on request. It is also an offence to assist someone else to handle the goods.
Under the law, such offenders will be convicted the same as those who committed the original stealing offence (10 years imprisonment term)
Where a group of people or a gang agree to commit a stealing offence (under the law), the court will equally find all of them guilty of the robbery offence.
The court will impose equal penalties on them all on the offences it convicts them. The court hardly distinguishes the individual participation of the members when imposing the convictions.
Committing a robbery offence in a group can qualify as an “aggravating” circumstance for a robbery offence.
Between the years 2011 and 214, the majority of people convicted of robbery offences received punishments of actual sentencing as stated in the Crimes Act.
However, about 32% of those convicted of Robbery offences received community-based orders instead of the stipulated punishments, and a smaller number got fines and suspended sentences.
As of June of 2020, Robbery and extortion offences accounted for 7.2% of all sentenced prisoners in VIC prisons.
These reports can be found on the official records of the Sentencing Advisory Council.
Getting a conviction record in a robbery charge will have a very devastating effect on your future. Under some VIC legislations, you may be prohibited from being admitted to certain roles or jobs. And robbery offences can hardly be for the spent convictions scheme.
If you get a summons to court for a robbery offence, you must go with your lawyer. It is a “legal-suicide to attempt to defend yourself from a robbery charge in court.
Your lawyer can explore some of these defences;
If you get convicted for a robbery offence in Victoria, it will show up on a police check certificate. If the offence get’s classified by the court as an “indictable offence” by the Victorian court, it will not qualify for the spent convictions scheme due to the serious nature of the offence.
You can obtain your criminal history check online via the Australian National Character Check (ANCC) website.
Crimes Act 1958 (VIC) - https://content.legislation.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-02/58-6231aa294%20authorised.pdf
Sentencing Act 1991 (VIC) - https://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/in-force/acts/sentencing-act-1991/217
Spent Convictions Bill 2020 (VIC) - https://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/bills/spent-convictions-bill-2020
Sentencing Advisory Council - https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sentencing-statistics/most-serious-offences-for-victorian-prisoners
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