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Home Blog Robbery Offences in New South Wales (NSW)

Robbery Offences in New South Wales (NSW)

Robbery offences are one of the most serious forms of stealing offences in Australia and New South Wales. The Division 2 of the Crimes Act 1900 details all actions and behaviours that are classified as robbery offences or other stealing offences.

Robbery offences are usually settled in the Supreme or higher courts in NSW as they are indictable offences. And those found guilty of robbery offences are sentenced to high imprisonment terms depending on the degree of the robbery offences or aggravating circumstances

Robbery offences are serious criminal offences and are displayed on a national police record check in NSW.

Due to the nature and seriousness of the offence, it generally also does not qualify for the spent convictions scheme in NSW.

What is a Robbery Offence?

Part 4 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) defines all forms of stealing offences; it defines the instances, and how they are prosecuted by the court.

Under section 94 of the Crimes Act, a robbery offence occurs when;

The accused person;

Robbery offences should not be confused with larceny, theft or other stealing offences in NSW irrespective of what was being stolen. An initial charge for a theft offence can be “graduated” to a robbery offence if the court deems that the person has used what the court concludes to be force/threat.

What Actions can constitute a Robbery offence?

Which Court handles a Robbery offence?

Stealing offences can be dealt with either as summary offences or indictable offences. It depends mostly on the degree of the stealing offence, presence of aggravating circumstances, and other factors the court considers important.

Where stealing offences are dealt with as summary offences, the matter will be heard in a Magistrate/Local court. If it is dealt with as indictable offences, the matter will be handled by a District or supreme court.

Matters heard by a supreme or District Court are final and cannot be reopened except in certain circumstances relating to the case surface.

Robbery offences are handled as indictment offences. A person charged with robbery must attend committal proceedings at the Local Court before finalising the matter in a higher court.

Electing where to hear your case

If the property has a value above $5000, it is called a Table 1 offence. It means that either the DPP (NSW Director of Public Prosecutions) or the accused can choose to have the District Court handle the matter, where no election is made it is handled in the Local Court.

However, if the value of the property does not exceed $5000, this matter is treated as a Table 2 offence. The DPP can choose to have the matter dealt with in the District Court. If no election is agreed upon, it will be dealt with in the Local Court.

What are the penalties for robbery offences in NSW?

Section 94 of the Crimes Act 1900 stipulates a list of punishment for various forms of robbery offences.

The court will issue penalties of up to 14 years for those who commit any of the following robbery offences;

However, other greater punishments under the Act may apply instead of these primarily stipulate

For cases of aggravation;

Section 95 stipulates the penalties of 20 years imprisonment if there is an aggravating circumstance that followed the action. The law defines aggravating circumstances as any of these or related to these;

How does the Prosecution prove a Robbery offence?

If you/the police accuse a person of robbery, you must provide clear evidence before the court on why such person should be guilty. It is always the prosecutor that must prove beyond doubt that the accused was guilty of the offence.

Before the court, the prosecutor must prove that;

Robbery with Wounding

Section 96 of the Act stipulates how the law should prosecute robbery offences that involve the wounding of the victim.

Where the court finds the accused person guilty of inflicting bodily harm while on the robbery offence, they can sentence them up to 25 years imprisonment.

Robbery or stopping a mail while being armed or in company

Section 97 of the Crimes Act prohibits the act of; while being armed with an offensive weapons, instruments, or in company with other persons;

If the court finds a person guilty of any of these offences, they can impose penalties of up to 20 years.

Aggravating circumstances

The accused is guilty of an offence under this subsection if they commit the offence while being armed with a dangerous instrument.

Convictions of an offence under this subsection attract imprisonment terms for 25 years.

Alternative verdict

If the jury does not find the accused person guilty of any of the offences they are charged for but finds them guilty of any other offences (robbery), it will convict them for the part they are guilty of.

An example is;

If Mr A was charged to court for hitting a woman to steal $500 from her but evidence in the court showed that the person shoved her, the accused person will be charged for the offence of shoving an old woman.

Robbery with arms and wounding

If the accused person was armed with a weapon or other instruments that served as a weapon depending on the circumstance and;

The court can sentence them up to a 25-year imprisonment term under the law.

Weapons as related to a robbery offence

The objective seriousness of a robbery considers if weapon(s) is used. And in such cases, the types of weapons and how they are used. This example is referenced in the case of R v Jenkins [1999] NSWCCA 110 at [5];

"Robberies can be viewed through the escalating seriousness of carrying a firearm, the firearm being loaded, or the loaded firearm being discharged, and of discharge being aimed deliberately at a victim or important target". it is referenced in the R v Readman (1990) 47 A Crim R 181 at 185.

From the references on R v Majstrovic [2000] NSWCCA 420 at [9]–[10];

While a replica weapon may not be of much damage to the victim, it would pose a serious risk as to the original. Since it was done to strike the same fear to the victim, such a case should be treated with the same impact as using the original weapon.

Juvenile Robbery Offenders

If a person under 18 is charged with a robbery offence, they will initially proceed to the Children's Court.

However, the matter cannot be finalized in the Children's Court. The matter proceeds through committal hearings in a Children's Court, and if committed to a higher court, will be finalised there by way of a plea or a trial. The offence for the juvenile will also be recorded as part of their criminal records and will show up on a police check result.

Jointly committed crime

A joint criminal enterprise is where two or more persons agree (through written or other means) to commit a robbery crime.

In this case, all parties of that agreement are equally guilty of that crime irrespective of the part any of them played.

An example is where three people agree to rob a vendor. And only one person threatened with a gun, while the others went on to cart the goods/valuables. In court, they will all be guilty of robbery with aggravating circumstances or any other offence the Jury convicts them. And they will equally receive the same punishments.

However, as in the case of R v Goundar (2001) 127 A Crim R 331 at [30]–[34], it may not automatically condemn all members of the enterprise for the offence, especially where there are clear distinguishing factors.

Demanding property with intent to steal

Subject to Section 99 of the Act, a person who demands property from another person with menace or force to steal the property commits an offence.

Such offence is punishable with a maximum penalty of a 10-year imprisonment term. It is immaterial whether any such menace is of violence or injury by the offender or by any other person.

If the offence is committed in company (1 or more people), the maximum penalty applied is imprisonment for 14 years.

Terms used in Robbery Offences

When handling a Robbery case, there are lots of technical terms that are "thrown around a lot" in the court. To truly follow the court proceedings, you and your legal team must be clear of these terms as per the NSW Crimes Act 1900.

Some of these terms are;

Assault

An assault in NSW occurs under the law where there is either physical contact or a threat to the victim. It includes causing the Victim reasonable fear of illegal physical violence. The act can either be intentional or reckless.

What is Intent?

The intent in the legal context carries the ordinary meaning of intent, such as intended aim or purposeful acts. Intent may be deduced from the conduct, before/at the time of, or after the specific action.

What is Recklessness?

Recklessness means to behave without care or regard for the consequences. It also requires some foresight that their actions may result in a particular outcome.

For example: if someone threatens another person with a gun, and in the process, the other person slumps and injures themselves. The person who pointed the gun should have known that threatening with a gun, can result in an injury or heavy scare to the person.

What does the court classify as a stealing offence?

A stealing offence is committed where the accused moved or attempted to move a possession that is capable of being stolen. The court will not consider it a stealing offence if the item was not "capable of being stolen".

The Act defines stealing offence occurs when;

Defences for a Robbery Offence

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

Having a robbery offence in your criminal record can damage your prospects or applications where your criminal record is assessed. For serious robbery offences, it can be hard to convince your victim to have the matter settled in a Magistrate court.

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

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.

You did not intend to steal the item

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

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 had a legal claim over the property claimed to be stolen

Under the law, it is impossible to steal your property. A person can 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 can convict you of violent acts, or threats or any other assault or injury for the action.

Do Robbery offences committed in NSW show up on a criminal record check?

Robbery offences will show up on a criminal record check certificate. If the offence was classified by the court as an indictable offence, it will also not qualify for the spent convictions scheme due to the serious nature of the offence.

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

The application and informed consent form can be completed online and the results are dispatched via email.

Sources

Sentencing Bench Book (Robbery) - https://www.judcom.nsw.gov.au/publications/benchbks/sentencing/robbery.html#d5e49884

Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) - https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/whole/html/inforce/current/act-1900-040#pt.4-div.2

Australasian Legal Information Institute - Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) - http://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdb/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/ca190082/

Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW) - https://www.odpp.nsw.gov.au/about-us/our-role

R v Jenkins [1999] NSWCCA 110 at [5] - https://www.judcom.nsw.gov.au/publications/benchbks/sentencing/robbery.html

Readman (1990) 47 A Crim R 181 at 185 - https://www.aic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-05/tbp031.pdf

R v Majstrovic [2000] NSWCCA 420 at [9]–[10] - https://www.judcom.nsw.gov.au/publications/benchbks/sentencing/robbery.html#p20-290

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