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Burglary, Robbery and Theft Charges in Victoria

Burglary, Robbery and Theft Defense Lawyers in Melbourne

If you’ve been charged with burglary, theft or robbery, our expert criminal lawyers are here to help. We have years of experience advising and representing clients in all kinds of theft matters before the Magistrates’ and County Courts of Victoria.

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Types of Burglary, Robbery and Criminal Theft Charges in Melbourne, Victoria

In Victoria, theft charges and related offences are legislated under the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) and the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic). The Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) also legislates a federal offence in relation to theft.

Less serious theft charges are known as indictable offences triable summarily. These types of offences are dealt with in the Magistrates Court and can carry a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment. More serious indictable offences are heard in the County Court and carry a maximum penalty of more than 2 years imprisonment.

If you have been charged or are under investigation for burglary, robbery or theft, please contact Sher Criminal Lawyers immediately. Our defence experts specialise in stealing matters and are here to help you. We have years of experience advising and representing clients before the Magistrates and County Courts of Victoria. Our burglary lawyers are available 24/7 and offer free consultations by way of Zoom, Facetime or in person at our Melbourne and Moorabbin offices.

Burglary is an indictable offence in Victoria and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment (s76 Crimes Act 1958). To prove a charge of burglary, the prosecution must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused:
  • Entered a building as a trespasser (or part of a building, vehicle or vessel); and
  • At the time of entry, intended to:
    • Steal;
    • Commit assault; or
    • Commit property damage.
Aggravated burglary is recognised as its own indictable offence in Victoria and carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment (s77 Crimes Act 1958). To prove a charge of aggravated burglary in Victoria, the prosecution must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed burglary and at the time of entry:
  • Had a firearm (or imitation firearm), offensive weapon or an explosive (or imitation explosive); or
  • Entered the building knowing or being reckless to the fact that a person was present in the building.
Home invasion and aggravated home invasion are also separate indictable offences in Victoria (s77A and 77B Crimes Act 1958). Both charges carry a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment. The elements of a home invasion are similar to that of aggravated burglary. The difference is that in a home invasion:
  • The building that the accused trespasses must be a home; and
  • The accused enters the home in company with one or more other persons.
A defendant cannot be found guilty of burglary if there is reasonable doubt as to whether they:
  • Entered the building;
  • Trespassed; or
  • Intended to steal or commit assault or property damage.
If the accused has limited authority to enter the building (e.g. at certain times), they may still be charged with burglary dependant on the circumstances of the offence. However, if the accused has unlimited authority to enter the building, a charge of burglary will likely be downgraded to theft. Some legal defences exist in relation to burglary. Whether or not the accused can rely on those defences depends on the circumstances of the offence.
Theft is an indictable offence in Victoria and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment (s74 Crimes Act 1958). To prove a charge of theft, the prosecution must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused:
  • Dishonestly appropriated property belonging to another person with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.
The appropriation of property cannot be considered dishonest if the accused:
  • Had an honest belief that they had a legal right to deprive the other person of the property (on behalf of themselves or a third party);
  • Had an honest belief that they would have the consent of the property owner (if they knew of the appropriation and the circumstances of it); or
  • Appropriated the property with the honest belief that the owner of the property could not be discovered through reasonable steps.
Theft of a firearm is recognised as a separate indictable offence (s74AA Crimes Act 1958). This charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment or 1800 penalty units (around $165 per unit). It is also a federal offence to thieve property belonging to a Commonwealth entity (s131.1 Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)). A charge of Commonwealth theft will likely be heard in the Magistrates’ Court if the property stolen is worth less than $100,000. If the property stolen is worth more than this, the charge will likely be heard in the County or Supreme Courts of Victoria. In theft matters, the Court must consider all the circumstances surrounding the offence. A defendant cannot be found guilty of robbery if the prosecution fails to prove any element of the crime. For this reason, a single piece of evidence might make the difference between a verdict of guilty or not guilty. It is vital that you obtain expert legal advice in regard to theft charges so that all legal options can be explored. It should also be noted that some legal defences exist in relation to robbery. Whether or not the accused can rely on those defences depends on the circumstances of the offence.

Robbery is an indictable offence in Victoria and carries a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment (s75 Crimes Act 1958). To prove a charge of robbery, the prosecution must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused:

  • Committed a theft; and
  • In doing so:
    • Used force on any person; or
    • Put (or sought to put) any person in fear that they or another person would be subjected to force then and there.

Armed robbery is recognised as its own indictable offence in Victoria and carries a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment (s75A Crimes Act 1958). To prove a charge of armed robbery in Victoria, the prosecution must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed robbery and:

  • Had a firearm (or imitation firearm), offensive weapon or an explosive (or imitation explosive) with them.

A defendant cannot be found guilty of robbery if the prosecution fails to prove any element of the crime. It should also be noted that some legal defences exist in relation to robbery. Whether or not the accused can rely on those defences depends on the circumstances of the offence.

Numerous other offences related to theft, burglary and robbery in Victoria are legislated under the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic). These include but are not limited to:

  • Removal of Articles from Places Open to the Public (s78): Removing an article, part of a collection or part of a building (or the grounds) from a place open to the public. An indictable offence that carries a maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment.
  • Carjacking (s79): Stealing a vehicle and in doing so using force or making another person fear that you are going to use force. An indictable offence that carries a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment.
  • Aggravated Carjacking (s79A): Committing a carjacking with a firearm (or imitation), or explosive (or imitation) or an offensive weapon; or causing injury to another person. An indictable offence that carries a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment.
  • Handling Stolen Goods (s88): Receiving, bringing or assisting in the handling of stolen goods in Victoria whilst knowing or believing the goods to be stolen. An indictable offence that carries a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment.
  • Going Equipped for Stealing etc. (s91): Having with you any article to be used in a burglary, theft or cheat (outside of your place of residence). A summary offence that carries a maximum penalty of 2 years’ imprisonment.
  • Criminal Damage (s197): Intentionally destroying or damaging property belonging to another person. An indictable offence that can carry a penalty of up to 15 years’ imprisonment if the criminal damage is intended to endanger the life of another person.

 

Further, some summary offences related to theft, burglary and robbery in Victoria are legislated under the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic). These include:

  • Possessing Housebreaking Implements (s49D): Having housebreaking implements in your possession or custody without lawful excuse. Carries a maximum penalty of 2 years’ imprisonment.
  • Escaping from Lawful Custody (s49E): Escaping or attempting to escape from a place or person in whose custody you are being lawfully detained. Carries a maximum penalty of 2 years’ imprisonment.
  • Making False Reports to Police etc. (s53): Voluntarily reporting (or causing to be reported) to a police officer (or protective service officer) that an act or event has occurred that calls for an investigation, knowing that that report is false. Carries a maximum penalty of 1 years’ imprisonment or 120 penalty units (around $165 per unit).

The Court Procedure for Burglary, Robbery and Theft Offences in Victoria

If you have been charged or are under investigation for potentially committing burglary, robbery or theft, it is important to understand your legal rights and options. This area of law is highly complex and there are many things you must consider before giving a police interview or attending court.

Our specialist team at Sher Criminal Lawyers is extensively experienced in all kinds of stealing matters and can advise and represent you in either the Magistrates Court or County Court. If you need help, please contact us immediately. One of our experienced robbery defence lawyers will expertly guide your case through every stage of your criminal proceedings, from the first police interview to the finalisation of the matter.

If you have been charged with a summary offence related to burglary, robbery or theft, your matter will be heard and finalised in the Magistrates Court of Victoria. Summary matters may involve several complex stages of case preparation and court procedure, including:

  • Police Questioning
  • Filing of Charges
  • First Mention Hearing
  • Summary Case Conference
  • Contest Mention
  • Contested Hearing

If you plead guilty to the summary charges, your matter may be heard and finalised in one day. However, if you plead not guilty, the prosecution must prove each element of the relevant offence beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutions failure to do so will result in you being found not guilty of that charge.

If you have been charged with an indictable offence related to burglary, robbery or theft, your matter might start in the Magistrates Court, but it will likely be finalised in the County Court. Indictable matters may involve several complex stages of case preparation and court procedure, including:

  • Police Interview
  • Committal Proceedings
  • Plea Hearing
  • Pre-trial Disclosure
  • Directions Hearing
  • Arraignment
  • Trial
  • Sentencing Hearing

Indictable cases can be heard summarily in the Magistrates’ Court under certain circumstances. For example, if a charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 or fewer years imprisonment, it can be heard summarily with the defendant’s consent and the Magistrate’s approval. It is also possible for experienced criminal defence lawyers to negotiate lesser stealing charges with the prosecution, which may result in the matter being heard in the Magistrates Court.

If you plead not guilty, the prosecution must prove each element of the relevant offence beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutions failure to do so will result in the defendants being found not guilty of that charge.

Things to Consider When Charged with Burglary, Robbery or Theft in Victoria

Burglary, robbery and theft are three separate offences under Victorian legislation. Each offence requires different elements to be proven. If all of the elements for a particular offence cannot be proven, the accused cannot be held legally liable for committing that offence. This is why it is important to seek the help of a criminal defence lawyer who specialises in stealing charges. Our team at Sher Criminal Lawyers is highly experienced at defending burglary, robbery and theft charges before the Magistrates and County Courts of Victoria. We are here to help you obtain the best possible outcome in your criminal matter.

Things for the Accused to Consider

Our specialist team at Sher Criminal Lawyers can answer your questions and provide you with expert advice and representation. We will explain your legal options to you by answering important questions such as:

  • Should I cooperate with a police interview?
  • Does the prosecution have enough evidence to prove my stealing charge?
  • Is there a legal defence I can rely on in my theft matter?
  • How will the circumstances of the offence affect my matter?
  • What is the likely result if I plead guilty or not guilty?
  • Is it possible to have my charges negotiated to a lesser offence?
  • Are the police allowed to confiscate my assets in relation to my stealing charge?

Things that the Court Must Consider

If your matter is taken to Court, the Magistrate or Judge will have to consider a wide range of factors that might prove you to be guilty or not guilty. In all burglary, theft and robbery matters, our experienced team at Sher Criminal Lawyers prepares the best possible defence case by considering factors such as:

  • Ownership of the property and entitlement;
  • Your intent and honest beliefs at the time;
  • Your specific actions in relation to the offence;
  • Any other elements of the offence noted in relevant legislation.

Penalties for Burglary, Robbery and Theft Charges in Victoria

The Victorian Courts take theft and related offences seriously. The majority of burglary, robbery and theft related charges are considered indictable offences. These charges are heard in the County Court and many of them carry a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.

Only a few offences related to stealing are considered summary offences and heard in the Magistrates Court. These charges can carry a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment.

The specific penalty for an offence is stipulated in the relevant legislation. The value of one penalty unit in Victoria is around $165.

Common penalties in relation to assault charges include:

  • Imprisonment
  • A Community Corrections Order
  • A Good Behaviour Bond (Adjourned Undertaking)
  • A fine
  • A criminal conviction

What to Do If You Are Charged with Burglary, Robbing or Theft in Victoria

Burglary, robbing and theft matters are highly complex. The Court needs to consider many factors when assessing guilt. It is important for you to have your side of the story heard. The best possible outcome can only be achieved if your lawyer is experienced in robbery defence and other stealing matters.

Please contact Sher Criminal Lawyers immediately if you have been charged or are under investigation for burglary, theft or robbery. Our specialist robbery defence lawyers are available 24/7 and here to help in your time of need. Consultations can be done by way of Zoom, Facetime or in person at our Melbourne and Moorabbin offices.

We are extensively experienced in stealing matters and regularly advise and represent clients before the Magistrates and County Courts of Victoria.

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