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  • Robbery and Burglary Offences in Western Australia

    Many of the offences charged as stealing have separate legislation and punishments stipulated under the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 for WA. Some of the violations people group under the ambiguous stealing offences are treated like any of;

    • Theft,
    • Larceny,
    • Shoplifting,
    • Robbery,
    • Burglary,
    • Other separate stealing offences are charged under the Criminal Code.

    Robbery and Burglary are a serious criminal offence. If a person is convicted in WA, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome on their national police check in WA.

    Due to the seriousness of the offence. The offence will stay on the individual's criminal record for life and in most circumstances will not be eligible to get cleared after a certain period of time as elapsed as per WA’s spent convictions legislation.

    What is a stealing offence under the WA Criminal Code?

    Following the Criminal Code in WA, the Court can only be satisfied with a criminal charge where;

    The item that is "stolen" is a property that is "capable of being stolen". It includes non-movable property, unique property and animals.

    The accused person acquired the stolen property by;

    • Illegally appropriates/claims the property,
    • Used fraudulent or deceitful means to assert the property,
    • Moved/disposed of the property without the owner's consent
    • Attempted to or retained the property without the owner’s consent/permission
    • The accused person is a trustee or legal rep, trying to enforce rights on the property that is only available to the owner.

    What items are considered capable of being stolen?

    Under the Criminal Code, the criteria for a “stealable property” is;

    Every inanimate thing, whatever is the property of any person, and which is movable, is capable of being stolen.

    Every inanimate thing which the property of any person is and is capable of being movable. It also includes; items capable of being stolen as soon as it becomes movable, although it is made portable to steal it.

    Every tame animal, whether domestic by nature or wild by nature and tamed, which is;

    • The property of any person,
    • Capable of being stolen.

    Excluding tame pigeons or birds that are not capable of being stolen except while they are in a pigeon-house or on their owner’s land.

    What is a property/item concerning stealing offences?

    In this context, property refers to all descriptions of real and personal items, including;

    • Money,
    • Debts,
    • Bank credits,
    • Legacies, and,
    • All deeds relating to or evidencing the title or rights to any property.
    • Other documents or testaments that gives a right to a person to own an asset or item,
    • Properties you exchanged for the original article.

    What is a Robbery Offence?

    Generally, a court will find you guilty of robbery if, during or immediately before the Offence, they used force, threats or attempts of violence.

    Section 392 of the Code stipulates that the following must occur before a stealing offence can be called a Robbery offence. The prosecutor must prove that;

    • ✔ The accused made away with a property of the owner;
    • ✔ Used or attempted; force, threats, violence, weapons, scares, assaults and other “hurtful” means to obtain the property;
    • ✔ The force/threat of violence was used immediately before, during or after the act;
    • ✔ The offender is armed with a weapon, or other instrument that serves as a weapon.

    What Court handles a Robbery Case?

    Robbery offences in WA are termed indictable offences and are handled/finalised in a District Court after a committal hearing.

    If the accused is an adult under the law, the committal hearing occurs in a Magistrate Court. Otherwise, it is heard in a Children's or Juvenile Court.

    What are the penalties for a Robbery Offence in WA?

    The offence of robbery in WA and Australia is usually a grievous one. In most cases, the Court will preclude any opportunity for an intervention program. If the Jury/Judge finds you guilty of these offences;

    1. Offences of Robbery in WA attracts the maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
    2. In aggravated cases, the Court can impose penalties as severe as 20 years imprisonment. Some of such aggravations such as the offender; is in company with another; or
      • ✔ Does bodily harm to any person; or
      • ✔ Threatens to kill any person; or
      • ✔ The victim is a person or over the age of 60 years.
    3. However, if the offender is armed with a dangerous/offensive weapon, including instruments used for such purpose, the maximum penalty is a life imprisonment term.

    Assault with intent to Rob

    Another part of a robbery offence is assaulting a person in WA with the intent to rob them. The prosecutor must prove that the assault was;

    • ✔ A means to steal or obtain the victim’s properties
    • ✔ Used as an attempt to steal the item,
    • ✔ Used immediately before/after or during the stealing acts

    Under the District Court, the Offence is punishable under Section 393 of the Criminal Code with a 10 years imprisonment term. However;

    • If the Offence occurred in circumstances of aggravation, or
    • If the offender is armed with a dangerous or offensive weapon (or pretends to be), a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment applies.
    • If the offender is armed, and the Offence occurred in circumstances of aggravation, the maximum penalty for such is imprisonment for life.

    Offences of Receiving stolen property

    If you receive property or proceeds of a property that is obtained through;

    • Illegal means (indictable acts) or
    • Offences that would constitute so within WA,
    • Acts that was an offence in the place it was committed,
    • Knew they obtained through any indictable or illegal actions,

    The Court will convict you of the indictable Offence that led to receiving such property. The Court will sentence such offender to;

    • The penalty stipulated for illegally obtaining that property (original stealing offence), or14 years imprisonment (depending on the lesser one) Or,
    • A 14-year imprisonment term.

    To prove the receiving of anything, the prosecutor must show that the;

    • The accused person either alone or jointly, had the item in their possession, or,
    • Helped in concealing it or disposing of it.

    Receiving after the (illegal) change of ownership

    When a thing has been obtained through any;

    • Criminal act constituting an indictable offence, or
    • Employing an act done elsewhere that would be an indictable offence in Western Australia, and,
    • It is an offence under the laws in force in the place where it is done, and another person subsequently acquired a lawful title to it. It is not considered an offence, even though the receiver knows that someone previously owned the item.

    Demanding property with threats and intent to steal

    Under Section 396 of the Act; the penalty for such crime is 3-year imprisonment, and its illegal actions include;

    Any person who, with a plan to steal

    Demands it from another with threats of any injury, or,

    Allows some harm of any kind to be caused to the victim if the demand does not comply.

    Burglary Offences in WA

    Section 401 of the Criminal Code in WA defines a Burglary offence as actions including any of these actions;

    • Enters a place of another person illegally,
    • Is in a place (home, shop, properties, etc.) of another person without their consent,
    • Intent and attempt to commit the Offence in that place.

    Burglary offences are prosecuted as a case with aggravation.

    The cases for aggravation of such offences include circumstances where the accused;

    • Is, or pretends to be armed with a dangerous offensive weapon;
    • Is, or pretends to "have" of explosives;
    • Is in the company of other persons;
    • Does bodily harm to any person;
    • Threatens to kill or injure any person;
    • Detains any person; and
    • Knew, or should know immediately before the Offence, that there were other people in that place (other than any co-offenders).

    What Court handles a Burglary Charge in Western Australia?

    Unlike a Robbery offence, Burglary offences can be handled as summary or indictable offences depending on the circumstances around the Offence.

    Burglary matters held in a Magistrate do not usually involve significant penalties and may even be exchanged for an intervention program if the Magistrate deems it appropriate. However, issues handled by the District Court are generally for serious indictable and aggravated Burglary charges.

    The District court matters are settled by a jury or judge and incur more severe consequences.

    What are the penalties for burglary offences?

    1. If the matter is handled in the District Court, the maximum penalty is 14 years.
    2. If the burglary offence happened at a human habitation, without aggravating circumstances, the Court can impose penalties of up to 18 years imprisonment.
    3. For all other cases of aggravation with a Burglary offence, the Court imposes penalties up to 20 years.

    For matters dealt with in a Magistrate Court, the court issues penalties up to;

    • Two years imprisonment term,
    • Fines up to $24 000,
    • Or both.

    If the place where the burglary offence happened was a human habitation, without aggravating circumstances, the Court might impose penalties up to;

    • Three years imprisonment term,
    • $36,000 in fines,
    • Or both.

    For all other cases of aggravation with a Burglary offence, the Court imposes penalties up to 3 years imprisonment term and a $36,000 fine.

    Where a person commits an offence in the place of another person

    The convictions for this Offence include cases where a person committed a crime in another person's position without their consent.

    The District Court will impose the following penalties;

    • If the Offence is aggravated home burglary, the maximum imprisonment term is for 20 years; or
    • Where such offences not a home burglary but there were circumstances of aggravation, maximum imprisonment for 20 years; or
    • If the Offence is a home burglary offence without circumstances of aggravation, to imprisonment for 18 years; or
    • In others case, to imprisonment for 14 years

    However, if the Offence is treated as a summarily in a Magistrate court;

    Where the circumstance of aggravation is that the offender is in company with other persons — the law stipulates imprisonment for three years and a fine of $36,000; or

    If the Offence is occurred in circumstances of aggravation, the maximum penalty is three years and a fine of $36,000.

    However, the Court will consider the following factor before handling the matter summarily or as indictable offences;

    If the Offence occurred in the place is an offence against property and the property's value is more than $50,000, the Offence is not to be dealt with summarily.

    Sentencing for Repeat offenders

    Under section 401A (4) of the Act, where a person convicted under this section of a home burglary (the current Offence) is a repeat offender, whether or not the conviction for the current Offence is relevant, the court sentencing the person for the current Offence.

    If the Offence occurred before the commencement day;

    For adults, the Court must impose a mandatory 12 months imprisonment term

    For Juvenile offenders, the Court must impose;

    • A mandatory 12 months imprisonment term, or
    • A period under custody subject to the Young Offenders Act 1994 of at least 12 months.

    For offences committed on or after the commencement;

    For adults, the Court must impose a 2-year imprisonment term.

    For juveniles;

    • 12 months mandatory imprisonment, or
    • A period under custody subject to the Young Offenders Act 1994 of at least 12 months.

    Such actions for repeat offenders cannot be suspended or exchanged for any other program. Furthermore, these actions do not prevent the Court from making special orders under part 7, Division 9 of the Act.

    Threats with intent to extort a person

    The Offence for extorting a person with threats include;

    1. Accusing a person or threatening to;
    • Committing an indictable offence, or
    • Offering or making other threats or,
    • Threats to any person as an inducement to commit or,
    • Permit the commission of an indictable offence
    1. Threatens that some other persons shall accuse any person of any indictable offence and related acts; or
    2. The contents of the writing causes a person to receive any report containing any such accusation or threat;

    If the Court finds a person guilty of any such offences, it will impose penalties of;

    • 20 years imprisonment.
    • However, the Court can impose a penalty of 14 years imprisonment for other related offences.

    For such offences, and this context;

    It is whether the person accused or threatened to be accused even when they have not committed the offence.

    Possible defences for Burglary and Robbery offences

    The best help to get if summoned to Court for any of these offences is to contact an experienced lawyer. As your legal adviser and representative, they can help you by exploring any of these defences;

    • Lack of intent;
    • Case of emergency;
    • Duress;
    • The honest claim of right; and
    • Mistaken Identification; where the accused is not the person who committed the burglary.
    • Consent to be in that place;
    • You did not intend to steal;
    • Insanity;

    Do Robbery or Burglary offences committed in Western Australia (WA) show up on a criminal history check?

    If you are found guilty by the court in WA, the offence for Robbery or Burglary will show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check certificate.

    You can obtain your criminal background check online via the Australian National Character Check (ANCC) website.

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