The offence of robbery is extremely serious and must be dealt with by way of a sentence or trial in the District Court of Queensland.
What is Robbery?
To convict a person of this offence, the Prosecution must prove that the person stole something and at the time of, or immediately before, or immediately after stealing it, the person used or threatened to use actual violence to another person or property.
Use of violence means that some degree of force is used.
As the offence involves violence, the Court is not required to consider a sentence of imprisonment as a sentence of last resort. The Court is also not required to prefer a sentence which allows the offender to remain in the community.
What is the maximum penalty for Robbery?
A person who commits robbery is usually liable to a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment however, there are three circumstances of aggravation that provide for a greater penalty of life imprisonment. These circumstances are:
- where the offender is armed or pretends to be armed with a dangerous or offensive weapon
- where the offender is in company of other persons
- if, at the time or alternatively immediately before or after the robbery, the offender wounds or uses any other personal violence to any person (s 411 Criminal Code).
Whether an item is a weapon depends on the way it is used.
The offence of Stealing is open as an alternative verdict on a charge of robbery which means if a person is found not guilty of robbery, they may still be found guilty of stealing.
What constitutes stealing?
A person who fraudulently takes anything capable of being stolen or fraudulently converts anything capable of being stolen to their own use (or to the use of any other person) is said to steal that property.
To convict a person of this offence, the Prosecution must prove that the person took property owned by another person without the consent of the owner with an intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
Which Court deals with the offence?
Offences of stealing must usually be dealt with in the Magistrates Court. However, in certain circumstances, including where the value of the property stolen is in excess of $30 000, there is provision for the charge to be dealt with on indictment in the District Court.
Which punishments will you face?
A person convicted of stealing faces up to five years of incarceration. However, this head sentence can be increased to ten years imprisonment where the following features exist:
- the property is stolen from the person by another
- the property is stolen from a dwelling and exceeds $1,000 in value, or was taken with a threat of violence
- the property is stolen from a vehicle
- there is a relationship between the stealing and the defendant’s position (e.g. public servant, clerk, servant, company director, agent or tenant)
- the value of the thing exceeds $5,000 or after previous conviction
- the property stolen is a firearm.
Where the property stolen is a firearm and is being stolen for the purpose of committing an indictable offence, or the property stolen is a vehicle, the head sentence can be increased to 14 years imprisonment. Finally, where the property stolen is a testamentary instrument (a will), the head sentence can be increased to life imprisonment.