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

Robbery Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

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There are lots of stealing related offences an accused person can get conviction for. One such category of these offences with the highest penalties/severity in NT is offences of Robbery.

Offences for Robbery are considered in place of any other stealing offence in a court if the act involved; assault, force, attempts to, or use of force.

The Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) handles robbery offences and penalties and defines a robbery offence if the Prosecutor can prove the following;

  • The accused person illegally took/snatched a “sealable item” from the victim;
  • The accused used force, threats or attempted to use any other hurtful means to steal the property.
  • The force was used immediately before/after or during the stealing offence.

A robbery offence is a serious criminal offence. If you are convicted court for a robbery offence, the offence will show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check as a disclosable court outcome (DCO).

What is property capable of being stolen?

  1. Every inanimate thing, whatever is the property of any person, and which is movable, is capable of being stolen.
  2. All property of another person is and is capable of being movable. It includes; objects capable of being stolen as soon as it becomes movable, and those made movable to steal it.
  3. Every domestic animal, whether tame by nature or by human actions, that is;
  • The property of a person,
  • Capable of being stolen.

Who is the owner of a property, where a person receives properties on behalf of another?

A property held in trust belongs to the original person to whom it was directed or issued. It includes any person having a right to enforce a trust.

Any attempt to manipulate such trust shall be considered an act to deprive of the property of any person having that right.

What is a stealing offence?

Broadly, stealing is defined as an unlawful act to appropriate the property of another with the intention to;

  • Deprive the person of it
  • Sell it or exchange it for a proceed,
  • Keep/convert it or intend to keep it
  • Deface/Change the face of the property

Robbery Offences

Section 211 of the Criminal Code Act 1983 defines a Robbery offence if the person steals an item (usually in the presence of the owner) by;

  • Using threats, violence, hurtful actions (shoving, turning wrists, pushing, and co,) - For example by a way of assault,
  • Preventing the resistance of the owner through scary actions;
  • Hindering their pursuit with further threats.

The Prosecutor must prove that the offender committed all these actions to steal the property from the victims.

Which Court handles a Robbery offence?

In Section 211(1) of the Criminal Code (NT), all stealing offences involving Robbery offences are indictable offences. These offences usually attract higher penalty terms and are handled in a Supreme or District Court.

The matter can be heard summarily in the Magistrate/Local Court if all parties agree.

The maximum penalty for a single charge of stealing offence at the Local Court is a two years imprisonment term.

If the defence or the prosecution elects to have the matter heard on indictment, it must be committed to the supreme and finalised there.

Offences treated at higher courts are final and cannot be reopened.

What penalties does the Court impose for Robbery offences?

Robbery offences handled in a District Court incurs a maximum imprisonment term of 14 years. However, for aggravated circumstances such as;

  • Holding or waving a firearm,
  • Waving other dangerous weapons,
  • Attacking in the company of more than one person,
  • Causes harm to the person immediately before/after or during the Robbery,

The Court can impose penalties up to a life imprisonment term for any of such cases of aggravation.

Assault with intent to steal

Section 212 of the Criminal Code Act stipulates severe punishments for offenders who assaulted a person while or during a stealing offence.

A person who assaults another with intent to steal is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

If the offender is;

  • Armed with a firearm or,
  • Some other offensive weapon or,
  • Is in a group or
  • If such assault causes harm,

The law prescribes penalties of 14 years imprisonment.

If the offender carries a firearm and during such an assault injures the victim by discharging it, he or she is liable to imprisonment for life.

Receiving/Keeping a stolen property

A person would be punished for a robbery if they received property obtained through the indictable crime (Robbery). It also includes purchasing a stolen item where you know it was stolen,

It also includes;

  • Receiving parcels from proceeds of the Robbery,
  • Keeping or hiding the property for those who committed the Robbery,
  • Purchasing properties, you know to be stolen.

The Criminal Code stipulates the following penalties for such offence;

Seven years imprisonment (14 years if the value is more than $100,000)

Where the person is acquitted of Robbery

If the Judge or jury rejects the Prosecutor's argument that the offence was;

  • Robbery offence or,
  • The act of assault was not related to the stealing action,

The Court will handle the case as an ordinary stealing offence.

If the Court treats the act as a common stealing offence, Larceny, Theft, or other actions, they can seriously convict the assault cases.

For example

If Mr A used to hit Mr B after a stealing action, and the Court refuses Mr B's lawyer's argument of a robbery, the Court will treat the matter as an act of theft and common/aggravated assault.

Punishments for Stealing offences

In cases where the Court throws out the Robbery offence argument of the prosecution, it will treat the offence as an ordinary stealing offence.

The Criminal Code Act 1983 stipulates maximum penalties for a stealing offence. A person or party guilty of a stealing crime will receive a 7-year imprisonment term. The penalty will be less if charged as a Summary offence.

If the thing stolen is a testamentary object, and

  • Regardless that the testator is alive or dead, or
  • If the item stolen has a value of $100,000 or more,

The offender will get up to 14 years imprisonment.

Where the offence is committed by more than one person/Joint offenders

A Robbery offence can become "aggravated" if a group or company serves it. However, where the Court does not consider it a case of aggravation, the Judge will issue the stipulated punishments for every offender.

Defences for a Robbery Offence

The NT Supreme Court deals with robbery offences as indictable offences.

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

A robbery offence in your criminal record can damage your prospects or applications, where they assess you by such documents.

In Court, your lawyer can explore any of the following defences;

You did not threaten or use force

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

You did not intend to "take" the item.

Your legal defence can prove that you did not intend to deprive the victim of their property. They can argue that;

  • The victim had a false thought of Robbery
  • The owner was scared and ran off

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

Under the law, it is impossible to steal your own property. A person might 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 could not 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 the action's violent acts, threats, or other assault or injury.

You were not the one who committed the Robbery

Your lawyer can argue against the robbery charge by proving that your identity was mistaken. There are cases where a person is falsely accused of a robbery charge from;

  • Pure coincidence or,
  • Having some of their properties at the crime scene.

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.

Successfully raise duress or self-defence as the reason

The Court may consider the 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.)

Do Robbery Offences show up in a police check?

Police check results reveal the legal state of an individual; it includes all.

You can obtain your Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check online via the Australian National Character Check (ANCC) website.


Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) -

Mandatory Sentencing laws in the Northern Territory and Western Australia (Australian Human Rights Commission) -

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