The most important facts about robbery charges in Australia
Australia, like most developed countries, treats the act of stealing very seriously. Unlike common theft, also known as larceny, robbery is defined as involving the assault of a person or persons.
The act of using force of the threat of force to take something that isn’t yours is dealt with harshly by the law with the heaviest sentences reaching up to 25 years imprisonment. For this reason those defending against these charges will seek an armed robbery lawyer to represent them in court.
Being successfully charged with an offence of stealing can jeopardise someone’s alibility to find work, travel overseas and their freedom if imprisoned.
Legal definitions of robbery
The Crime Act outlines 5 different forms of this crime under Australian law. These forms robbery are:
- Robbery or stealing from a person
- Aggravated resulting in wounding
- Armed or in company
- Armed or in company that results in wounding
All of the offences carry varying maximum penalties and also require different levels of proof from the prosecution. The most frequently prosecuted offence is ‘robbery or stealing’ and to be found guilty of it the prosecution must prove 3 different elements of the crime.
- The accused stole or had an intention to steal from another person
- The was someone else present when the item was stolen
- That violence was use in order to steal
The prosecution must prove these 3 things for someone to be found guilty. Other variations of the crime will have additional elements that need to be proven.
For someone to be charged with an aggravated variation of the crime the prosecution must prove that they:
- Used violence against another person to steal from them
- Inflicted bodily harm on another person
- Deprived someone of their liberty – detained them in some way
For someone to be charged with an armed variation of the crime the prosecution must prove that they:
- That another person was present and helped commit the crime or
- The suspect was armed with an offensive weapon
An offensive weapon is defined as any kind of object that could be used to inflict bodily harm to another person. The prosecution does not need to prove that the weapon was used; only that it was present.
Precedential cases have also established that a fake weapon, such as a replica firearm, is also considered an offensive weapon because someone could mistake it for a real weapon.
Those seeking to disprove these elements should seek out an armed robbery lawyer to help defend them.
Proving the crime
The prosecution may have difficulty in proving this crime, especially if there was a large amount of time between the incident occurring and the arrest of the suspect. It can also be hard to prove because of the unreliability of some methods of identification.
DNA evidence is commonly used to prove the presence of someone at the scene of the crime but it can be argued that there are alternative explanations for its presence.
In some circumstances a legal defence is viable where the accused can prove they had a sincere belief the property belonged to them.
The maximum sentences
Under the crimes act, the maximum penalty for the base level of the crime is 14 years imprisonment. Aggravated robbery can incur a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment.
The more severe types of the crime of aggravated with wounding and armed can carry a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.
Someone charged with any variation of this crime they should seek out an armed robbery lawyer who can help defend them in court.