Criminal Lawyers SydneyLawyer for Larceny Offence

February 14, 20220
Gavel, books and handcuffs on wooden table

Elements of a Larceny Offence

To be convicted of a larceny offence, the manner in which the object or objects were stolen must be recognised by law as a punishable offence. This means that:
(a) The property stolen must have belonged to someone other than the accused person,
(b) The property must have been taken and carried away, and
(c) The actual taking of the object or property must have been without the consent of the owner.

These make up the elements of a larceny offence.

Offence of Larceny

Larceny, or theft of personal property, is a common law offence, and is provided for in Division 5 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). It is punishable by up to five years imprisonment (section 117, Crimes Act). There are a number of factors taken into consideration by the Court to determine whether a larceny offence is established by the Prosecution.

Mental State for a Larceny Offence

There are also a number of requirements in relation to the mental state of the accused at the time of the theft:

  • The property must have been stolen with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it,
  • It must have been taken without any claim of right, and
  • There must be an element of dishonesty in the manner of taking.

These mental states must have existed at the time of the taking of goods for the crime to be made out. It is worth exploring these in depth in order to understand what constitutes a charge of larceny.


There are a number of differences at law between possession, control, and ownership when it comes to objects and property, but it can be summarised as follows.

When one purchases an object from someone who legally owns it, he/she then takes ownership, possession, and control. For example, buying a computer from a store makes you the owner of, and puts you in possession and control of that computer.

When one takes an object that belongs to someone else without being legally handed ownership, possession, and control, this constitutes larceny. Taking the computer from a store without purchasing it or arranging to purchase it is theft.


Before larceny can be proven, the physical object or property must be actually moved, even if only slightly. When unlawfully taking possession of someone else’s property, this property must physically move from its original position. This must be done either by the accused or by someone acting on their behalf.


Usually, if a person is charged with larceny and taken to Court, this is because the property of a person was taken without consent. For this to be justified, the owner must be able to establish legal ownership of the property in question, and there must be evidence that it was taken without their consent. This evidence can be given by the owner of the property, by way of statement to Police and oral evidence in Court.


Larceny is only made out if the property taken was taken with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it, that is, never giving it back. It does not constitute stealing if the property is taken temporarily. Unless the person taking the object or property of someone else believes that their actions will lead to permanent deprivation, temporary possession of property does not constitute a charge of larceny. However, a Court will often infer an intention to permanently deprive the owner of the property from the actions of the accused person in taking the item.


If the accused honestly believed that they had a legal reason to take possession of another’s property then this raises questions as to the validity of the larceny charge. However, the accused must believe they have a strictly legal right to the property and not simply a moral entitlement.


The accused must have had a dishonest intention in taking the object or property – i.e. knew that he was not entitled to take the property. Mistake of fact can negative dishonest intention. It is up to the Court to determine whether the property was taken possession of in a dishonest manner from the circumstances of the taking, as well as the evidence of the accused person and evidence of any witnesses.

Larceny Lawyer

Representation for Larceny Offence

Only if these requirements are all met in the charge against the accused, can the offence of larceny be proven. As you can see, it is a fairly detailed area, and representing yourself may not be the best idea.

If you have been charged with a larceny offence, then a criminal lawyer who has dealt with numerous larceny related matters is recommended – call Criminal Lawyers Sydney and Suburbs on (02) 9533 2269 without delay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Brigitte Simeonides & Associates, Solicitors, P.O. Box 2068, PEAKHURST. N.S.W. 2210.

Follow us:


Call Criminal Lawyers Sydney and Suburbs – Brigitte Simeonides & Associates

(c) 2022 – Brigitte Simeonides & Associates – Criminal Lawyers Sydney and Suburbs

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation