Criminal Law


Larceny essentially covers most theft or stealing offences. When deciding whether or not to bring a charge of larceny NSW Police need to consider whether all the elements of the offence can be made out. Our Criminal Lawyers can advise you on your prospects of defending a larceny charge, particularly if there are deficiencies in the police case.

The Law 

Section 117 of the Crimes Act 1900 notes the penalty that someone is liable for when it comes to the common "larceny" offence. However, it must be noted that the offence of larceny was always an offence at "common law" (ie, before being enacted in criminal law legislation) and the elements of the offence are therefore not included in the Crimes Act

In accordance with common law principles, to be guilty of larceny, it must be proved that you: 

· wrongfully took and carried away;

· the personal goods of another;

· with the intent of permanently depriving the owner of such property; and

· without the owner's consent.

There are also other various other forms of larceny, such as the common charge of "larceny by clerk or servant", with the added element of the person committing the larceny against their employer.


The maximum penalty for larceny varies depending on the value of the property stolen and in which Court the matter is finalised. For matters finalised in the Local Court: 

If the value of the property is $2,000 or less then the maximum penalty is 2 years' imprisonment and/or a fine of $2,200.

If the value of the property is more than $2,000 and less than or equal to $5,000 then the maximum penalty is 2 years' imprisonment and/or a fine of $5,500.

If the value of the property is more than $5,000 then the maximum penalty is 2 years' imprisonment and/or a fine of $11,000.

If the matter is finalised in the District Court then the maximum penalty increases to 5 years' imprisonment.


Larceny will not have taken place if the goods were only taken for some temporary purpose and not to deprive the owner of them permanently. However, if you obtained some personal benefit from the property then the prosecution can argue that it was obtained only for a temporary purpose.

The offence of larceny has also not been committed if you honestly and genuinely believed that you were legally entitled to the property. The test applied by the Court to determine if you had a genuine belief that you were entitled to the property is the consideration of what a "reasonable person" would have done in the same circumstances. If it is accepted that a reasonable person would have genuinely believed that they had a legal right to the goods, then the offence would not have been committed.

The likely penalty for a larceny charge will depend on your criminal record (if you have one), the value of the goods stolen and your personal circumstances. The usual penalties for larceny vary between a fine, good behaviour bonds and even terms of imprisonment, particularly for repeat offenders. Even if someone is only exposed to a possible minor penalty for the offence, it must be borne in mind that a conviction for larceny could be very detrimental to your career and ability to travel. With our experienced criminal lawyers, we may be able to assist you with defending the charge altogether or obtaining a lenient penalty without a conviction.  

If you have been charged with larceny, our experts at Prime Lawyers - Criminal Law Division can help. Contact us to make an appointment with a criminal lawyer at your nearest Prime Lawyers office.

We have offices in Parramatta, Sydney, Chatswood, Sutherland and Wollongong.

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