Larceny is a crime involving the theft or unlawful taking of an individual’s personal property by another individual or entity. In the most extreme circumstances, this crime carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
Have you been charged with larceny? It is often surprising to many of our clients how these cases can be defended. If you are charged with an offence of Larceny, it is essential that you obtain immediate legal advice before doing anything else. This can make a significant difference to your matter.
What Is Larceny?
Larceny is the offence of “theft” or “stealing” and relates to property being taken without the consent of the owner regardless of the value.
Larceny is a serious criminal offence and aside from the punishment that might be imposed by a Court, a criminal conviction for larceny can have serious ramifications. These ramifications include current and future employment, security clearances, and overseas travel.
Is There A Difference Between Theft, Larceny And Shoplifting?
Theft is an umbrella term that is inclusive of all criminal stealing. This could involve intellectual property theft, identity theft, theft of products or services and even theft of personal property.
Larceny is sometimes referred to as ‘shoplifting’ as it is usually defined in the context of theft of personal property that is able to be possessed or carried away.
Shoplifting is a common term used to describe alleged larceny from retail stores or convenience stores and can range from inexpensive goods to expensive goods. It is often surprising to many of our clients how these cases can be defended. Often ‘CCTV’ footage can be unclear, and unable to identify the person stealing the item, and therefore the charges could be dismissed.
How To Defend And Plead Not Guilty To Larceny
If you are accused of committing larceny there are ways in which you can defend yourself. In order to be convicted of larceny offences, the prosecution must prove, beyond reasonable doubt that:
- That the property must have belonged to someone other than you;
- You took and carried away property;
- The taking was without the consent of the owner of the property;
- You must take the property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
There are a further three mental elements for Larceny, namely that at the time of taking, the person acted:
- With the intention of permanently depriving the owner;
- Without a claim of right; and
- Fraudulently or dishonestly.
If any of the above elements cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt, then you will be found not guilty of the offence. We discuss the elements for Larceny in greater detail below.
Further, you will be found not guilty of larceny charges if you can establish any of the following:
Claim of right is another defence that can be used against Larceny charges. An individual will have a claim of right when they have a genuine belief of a right to certain items, property or money. If you believe that you had entitlement to the property, it does not matter the actions you took to take it.
Our experienced criminal lawyers will advise you of your prospects of successfully defending any charge brought against you and fight to have you found not guilty of the offence.
How To Plead Guilty To Larceny
If you agree with what the police are alleging against you, the way to get the best result is often to plead guilty as it demonstrates remorse and contrition as well as meaning that you will be entitled to a discount on your sentence.
Generally, a discount of 25% will apply to a plea of guilty at an early stage of your court proceedings. Alternatively, it may be the case that one of our experienced solicitors can negotiate with prosecutors for you to plead guilty to a less serious charge.
Generally, the likely penalty for larceny charges will depend on your criminal record (if you have one), the value of the goods stolen and your personal circumstances.
The Penalties For Committing Larceny
The Crimes Act 1900 states the maximum punishment for larceny is a maximum of 5 years imprisonment. The maximum penalty is 2 years if the matter is dealt with in the Local Court.
In the Local Court penalties are decided upon where:
- The value of the property stolen does not exceed $5,000.00 has a maximum penalty of a fine of $5,500.00 and/or 12 months imprisonment.
- The value of the property stolen exceeds $5,000.00 has a maximum penalty of $5,500.00 and/or 2 years imprisonment.
In the District Court penalties are decided upon where:
- The offence of stealing/larceny carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment. However, stealing/larceny is an offence sometimes dealt with pursuant to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentence Procedure) Act, meaning no conviction will be recorded, there is no other penalty and you will have no criminal record.
Generally, penalties that a court can impose for any criminal offence in NSW are:
Why You Should Choose LY Lawyers To Defend You If You Are Caught Stealing
At LY Lawyers, your case will be well prepared by a team of specialist lawyers and researchers who will invest their exceptional skills in developing a winning strategy. Preparation is essential to case strategy and getting the best possible outcome for your case.
If you would like to see if any of our successful cases match the description of your situation, we have provided examples below.
Our client was charged with a larceny charge at DFO at Homebush.
After a random search of our client’s bag whilst she was shopping at Burwood Westfields, police found clothing stolen from DFO a few days prior.
The police alleged that our client was the person that stole the clothing from DFO (and escaped from security) and had simply left the clothing in her bag.
Whilst the security tags were still on the clothing, and it appeared it was the same clothing that was stolen, witnesses could not provide police with an accurate description of the offender who actually stole the clothing.
The police could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was our client who stole the clothing. The charges were dismissed.
Our client was charged with larceny after having stolen more than $5,000.00 from a faulty deposit box at a bank.
At the time the money was stolen from the deposit box, our client was in the process of depositing money for her own employer.
It became apparent from speaking to the client that she had a long complicated family history with her mother confiscating her wage to gamble since she was a teenager.
The evidence as to her family background was put to the court through a psychological report.
Ultimately, submissions were made that the taking of the property was the impulsive act of a person who had never had financial independence on a account of manipulation by a family member.
The Magistrate accepted, in the circumstances, our client was unlikely to re-offend and dealt with her by way of section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act.
Our client was charged with larceny by clerk, carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Our client worked as a chef at an exclusive hotel for over 14 years.
Whilst working he took food valued at $70.90 that was nearing the expiration date. The hotel became aware of this and reported it to police.
We assisted our client by representing him throughout the police investigation, court appearances and at the sentencing hearing subsequent to a plea of guilty.
We advised our client that this was a clear case for a section 10. However, a section 10 is always at the Magistrate’s discretion. We therefore prudently went about gathering evidence of our client’s upstanding position in the community and referees who supported our client.
At the sentence hearing in the Downing Centre Local Court the Chief Magistrate Henson was disinclined to order a section 10 due to the position of trust our client was in.
Our solicitor persistently argued to the Court that the circumstances warranted a section 10, including no prior criminal record, the unlikelihood our client would reoffend, our client’s remorse and the additional punishment a conviction would cause in hindering his future employment opportunities.
Eventually after persuasive argument, the Magistrate turned his mind and gave our client a section 10.
Our client now has a greater chance at finding new employment and remains a free man.
Our client was a Mexican Tourist charged with Larceny. He pleaded guilty to stealing an expensive pair of Armani Sunglasses.
When our client was arrested the Police seized almost $5,000.00 in cash without reasonable grounds and without recording the money in the property docket given to our client. Effectively our client had no proof the Police had his money.
Our solicitor requested the Police review their CCTV footage which proved the Police had taken the money as an exhibit. Our solicitor attended the Police Station and successfully pressured the Police to return the money.
The sentence hearing took place at Waverley Local Court before Her Honour Magistrate Sullivan. In light of our client’s good character, evidence of his remorse and the return of the sunglasses on the sentence date, Her Honour dealt with our client by way of a section 10(1)(b) bond for 12 months.
This was a great result for our client who was free to return to Mexico with all his money.
Our client was unrepresented in the local court. She pleaded not guilty then changed her plea to guilty on the day of her hearing.
Her charges were two counts of larceny (stealing). The items stolen included identification cards and $50 from inside a wallet found in the women’s bathroom of a Darling Harbour night club. The items were returned but the facts indicated this was a planned offence.
In the local court she was convicted and fined $200 for each offence. We acted for our client in a severity appeal to the Sydney District Court. Our client did not want the stigma of a criminal conviction.
The appeal was heard before His Honour Judge Lerve. His Honour was initially against allowing our client the leniency of a section 10 and the solicitor from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions made submissions against a section 10.
After hearing the argument put forward by our solicitor as to the ongoing punishment our client would suffer as a result of the convictions, particularly for offences of dishonesty, His Honour extended the leniency of a section 10(1)(b). Our client entered a bond for a period of 2 years which requires her to be of good behaviour.
This was a great result for our client.
Our client was charged with obtaining property by deception and larceny, he came to us having exhausted all his avenues. He had a strong Ice and gambling addiction which controlled his life and his offending. He had been before the Court many times and was given every opportunity he could have, including section 10 bonds, section 9 bonds, section 12 bonds, Community Service. He was then caught in the revolving door of jail, breaching in Parole terms on a constant basis and returning to custody. His record included a spike in dishonesty offences from 2007 which quickly resulted in long jail sentences, overall having spent four years in custody on and off.
With the help of our solicitor’s dedicated work, we managed to turn 10 charges of a mix of dishonesty offences, into a non-custodial sentence with a view to full time rehabilitation. Our client was sentenced to an Intensive Corrections Order with a direction his time be spent at a full time rehabilitation centre by Magistrate Still at Burwood Local Court. A great result for our client considering his extensive criminal history.