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There are a number of offences where someone can get convicted of under stealing offences in Victoria (if proven guilty). Division 2 of Part 1of the Crimes Act 1958 defines the law and stipulates punishments for Stealing crimes in the state of Victoria.
The stealing offences in Victoria range from minor shoplifting offences or theft to include;
The offence for stealing is a criminal offence and will show up on an individual’s national police check in Victoria. The offence is displayed as a “Disclosable Court Outcome”. Offences for stealing are displayed on criminal history checks in accordance with Victoria’s spent convictions legislation.
The Crimes Act 1958 (VIC) considers stealing offences as indictable offences and are dealt with by a judge or jury in higher courts. However, both parties may elect to handle the matter as a summary offence in a Magistrate Court, depending on the degree of the offence.
Usually, only offences where the value of what was stolen is over $100,000 will be heard in higher courts as serious offences. An accused person before theft offences is guilty of an indictable crime and liable to imprisonment (10 years maximum).
When tabled before the court, the judge expects the prosecution to prove three things;
For the jury to be convinced about the act of appropriation, the prosecution must prove that;
The Crimes Act of Victoria only finds a person guilty of theft if there was an act of appropriation. In this context, appropriation means;
The accused appropriated the property by;
Several court decisions in the past have adjusted and reviewed the activities or tasks that can constitute a person appropriating a property.
"Property" under the law must include;
Money, and all other property real/estate. It includes things in action and other intangible properties.
Property can include, but is not limited to:
In some instances, the thing assumed to be a property may require the court's discretion as to whether it qualifies as a property. Only the judge can determine whether a particular circumstance creates a property right. However, it is for the jury to determine whether that ircumstance existed as a question of fact. It is perfectly explained in R v Hall  QB 126.
Section 73 of the Act lists Land and other related things as properties that the law considers "has stealable".
Section 73 (6) also provides that a person can be guilty of theft of Land or related properties where;
In this context, the law recognizes a person as a personal representative even if they are not a trustee. And can still be guilty of appropriating the property illegally.
The law also states that a property must exist before the accused can be guilty of stealing offences.
A person can be guilty of stealing offences if the “own” the property under any of these conditions;
If the property is subject to a trust or includes any beneficiary who must inherit the property by law, the people listed as beneficiaries are considered the "owners" under the law.
Appropriating the property or attempting to by the Trustee are punishable stealing offences under the law.
Where the property is under a fiduciary obligation.
A person would be under a fiduciary duty if they received directives on how such properties under their care are disposed of.
In such cases, the property's giver will remain the property's legal owner until the obligation is satisfied.
A person can be found guilty of a stealing offence if they refused/declined the obligation to restore such violations.
The person is required to make restoration where the person;
Under the law, the property is still the legal property of the person entitled to the restoration.
Section 73 (11) of the Act regards all properties belonging to a corporation. It doesn't consider any vacancy in the corporation.
Therefore, it is a theft offence to illegally appropriate or claim a corporation's property (organisation) even when the incumbent is dead, or the position that managed such property is vacant.
A Stealing crime is complete when the accused showed the intention to permanently deny the owner of their property after they appropriated it.
The court will find you guilty of a stealing offence if it is convinced that you were trying to “cheat” or default on a trust.
This offence also includes where a person refused to restore a property they obtained legally by mistake. It has related properties and the proceeds of the property.
The accused is deemed to intend to deprive a person of property permanently. However, they did not have that intention when they appropriated the property if they intended to treat it as his or their own to dispose of regardless of the owner's rights.
Offences of such cases include;
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;
The stipulation of this law is found under Section 73 of the Crimes Act 1958.
The Victorian laws regard wild creatures, tamed or untamed, as property. A person or those working under their orders can claim ownership to a wild animal if they;
A person will be guilty of stealing an animal if they;
However, a person “cannot steal”;
However, illegally taking or claiming or using another person’s farm animal or domestic animal is regarded as a stealing offence. The offender will be given the stipulated penalty as per the law and the offence will also appear on a criminal history check. It includes all instances where you;
The court can find you guilty of a stealing offence if they believe you obtained the property through "dishonest" actions.
Some example of such offences is;
In R v Salvo  VR 401 per Murphy J, the court showed that: stealing offences through Dishonesty is a subjective concept. The jury is concerned with the accused's personal beliefs.
A person can still be found guilty of using dishonest means to obtain a property (stealing offence) even if they intended to pay for the property. The court does not consider the accused person willing to pay as an excuse that they used dishonest means.
The court will find guilty all those who;
Under the law, such offenders will be convicted the same as those who committed the original stealing offence (10 years imprisonment term).
A person is prohibited under the law from stealing a gun.
The court issues special Penalty of;
Here a firearm means the same as in Section 3(1) of the Firearms Act 1996.
The best action after receiving a court summons for a stealing charge is to contact an experienced lawyer.
The lawyer can explore any of the following defences;
The offence of stealing will show up on a national police check in Victoria and is displayed on the check in accordance with the Spent Convictions Scheme of Victoria.
You can obtain your police check online via the Australian National Character Check (ANCC®) website. Results are dispatched via email.
Crimes Act 1958 (VIC) - https://content.legislation.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-02/58-6231aa294%20authorised.pdf
Judicial College of Victoria - https://www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au/eManuals/CCB/5094.htm
Roffel v R  VR 511 - https://victorianreports.com.au/judgment/view/1985-VR-511
R v Hall  QB 126 - https://www.lawteacher.net/cases/r-v-hall.php
Firearms Act 1996 (VIC) - http://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/fa1996102/s3.html
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