What the law says
Sections 391 of the Criminal Code Queensland states:
- A person who fraudulently takes anything capable of being stolen, or fraudulently converts the person's own use or to the use of any other person anything capable of being stolen, is said to steal that thing.
- A person who takes or converts anything capable of being stolen is deemed to do so fraudulently if the person does so with any of the following intents, that is to say-
- (a) an intent to permanently deprive the owner of the thing of it;
- (b) an intent to permanently deprive any person who has any special property in the thing of such property
- (c) an intent to use the thing as a pledge or security
- (d) an intent to part with it on a condition as to its return which the person taking or converting it may be unable to perform;
- (e) an intent to deal with it in such a manner that it cannot be returned in the condition in which it was at the time of the taking or conversion;
in the case of money-an intent to use it at the will of the person who takes or converts it, although the person may intend to afterwards repay the amount to the owner.
What the police must prove
In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt.
- The property is a thing capable of being stolen.
- The thing is owned by the person named as owner in the indictment.
- There was a taking without the consent of the owner. That is, the accused must have actually moved it or actually dealt with it by some physical act with out eh owner's consent. The taking was with fraudulent intent. That is, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the thing.
It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence. Click here to learn more about identification evidence.
The Maximum penalty for the offence of Stealing is 5 years imprisonment where there are no circumstances of aggravation. Where there are circumstances of aggravation the maximum penalty may be between 10 to 14 years imprisonment.
Which court will hear the matter
This matter is indictable which can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court in certain circumstances. If the value of the property or thing alleged stolen is greater than $ 5000.00, the matter must be dealt with in the District Court. If the value of the property is under $5000.00, the defence has the election as to whether or not it can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court.
Possible defences to this offence include but are not limited to
- The property or thing is not capable of being stolen.
- The accused had the consent of the owner.
- The accused mistakenly thought they had the consent of the owner.
- The property was abandoned by the owner.
- Civil or contractual dispute.
Criminal Law Article written by Bill Potts (a Queensland criminal defence lawyer who is experienced in Stealing matters)