What is Larceny?

Larceny is the act of taking away property, which was capable of being stolen, which belongs to another, without the consent of the possessor. Section 117 Crimes Act 1900 NSW sets out the offence of larceny and the maximum penalty is five years imprisonment.

What does the Prosecution have to Prove?

The prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused took and carried away property, and
  2. The property belonged to another person, and
  3. The owner of the property did not give permission to the accused to take the property away, and
  4. The accused intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property, and
  5. The accused took the property dishonestly.

What are the Defences Available?

Where the stolen property belongs to the accused or they have a claim to it, they can use the defence of claim of right if it is made genuinely. A successful claim would make the taking away not unlawful although legally wrong. Additionally, duress can also be claimed as a defence.

Onus of Proof

If you have you have been charged with the criminal offence of larceny, you are innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The jury will review all available evidence and circumstances of the case and make a determination that you have been guilty of an offence. This concept was discussed by their Honour of Dixon CJ in Plomp v The Queen [1963] HCA 44; (1963) 110 CLR 234 at 242 where he said:

“All the circumstances of the case must be weighed in judging whether there is evidence upon which a jury may reasonably be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the commission of the crime charged”.

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