Whilst robbery is an offence in both NSW, WA and the ACT, the elements of the offence and their maximum penalties differ between the three jurisdictions.
Robbery in the ACT
Robbery is an offence under section 309 of the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT). The maximum penalty for this offence is 14-year imprisonment and/or 1,400 penalty units ($224,000 fine). Whilst robbery is a commonly used term, the colloquial and legal definition may differ. In the ACT to satisfy an offence of robbery the prosecution must prove you:
- Committed theft; and
- Whilst (or immediately before or after) committing theft you used force on someone else; or
- Threatened to use force;
- With intent to commit theft or escape from the scene.
What is theft?
Theft is an offence under s308 of the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT) that must be made out to satisfy the first element of robbery. Theft has been committed if one ‘dishonestly appropriates property belonging to someone else with the intention of permanently depriving the other person of the property’. The element of theft is also satisfied by minor theft under section 321 of the Criminal Code, therefore the value of the property stolen does not impact this element of robbery.
Was there force?
For an offence of robbery to be made out, one must inflict violence or threaten to inflict violence on another, and they must do so for the purpose of trying to steal from that person or trying to escape the scene.
Other Robbery Offences
As the offence of robbery in the ACT already encompasses use of force, threat of violence is not an aggravating factor but merely an element of the offence. However, aggravated robbery is an offence under section 310 of the Criminal Code and an offence of robbery may be aggravated if it is committed in company (with 1 or more person) or with an offensive weapon. An aggravated robbery charge carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment and/or 2,500 penalty units.
What defences might be available?
If charged with robbery, there may be some defences available to you if you argue that:
- You did not use, or threaten to use, force on someone
- You did not intend to steal the item
- You honestly and reasonably believed the item belonged to you
Robbery in NSW
Robbery is an offence combined with stealing from the person under section 93 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). The maximum penalty for this offence is 14-years imprisonment, however there are numerous additional offences relating to robbery, including aggravated robbery and robbery with wounding, that carry greater penalties.
For the prosecution to make out an offence of robbery they must satisfy you:
- Robbed or assault
- With intent to rob
- Stole any chattel, money, or valuable security from the person of another
What constitutes robbery?
To satisfy an offence of robbery you must have robbed or assaulted with intent to rob. To satisfy this element the prosecution must prove:
- You took and carried away property;
- That was capable of being taken and belonged to another person;
- Without the consent of the owner and;
- You threatened force before or at the time of taking the property to induce the taking and;
- You did so with the intention of robbing the person
What constitutes assault?
Whilst assault is a separate offence in the Crimes Act, you may be charged with a robbery offence if you commit assault with the intent to rob. An assault has occurred if you inflict physical violence on another or you intentionally (or recklessly) inflict actual or grievous bodily harm on another.
Did the property belong to someone else?
For a robbery offence to be made out, the property stolen must have belonged to another person at the time it was taken. Belonging to another includes when it is in actual possession or custody of someone other than the accused.
Different types of robbery
Whilst robbery or stealing from a person is set out in section 94 of the Crimes Act, additional offences of robbery include:
- Aggravated robbery (section 95) – as violence is not a necessary element of robbery in NSW, the offence of aggravated robbery encompasses offences where there is corporal violence, intentional or reckless infliction of actual bodily harm or depravation of one’s liberties
- Robbery with wounding (section 96) – One may be guilty under section 96 if they wound or inflict grievous bodily harm on a person whilst committing, or attempting to commit, robbery. This offence carries a maximum penalty of 25 years.
- Robbery in company or armed robbery (section 97) – One may be guilty under section 97 if, whilst committing an offence under section 95, they are armed with an offensive weapon or they are in company of one or more person. This offence carries a maximum penalty of 25 years.
- Robbery with arms etc. And wounding (section 98) – One may be guilty of an offence under section 98 if immediately before, during or after committing an offence under section 95 inflicts grievous bodily harm with an offensive weapon or whilst in the company of another person.
What defences might be available to you?
If you have been charged with robbery under section 94 there may be a range of defences available to you if you deny that you took someone’s property. Additionally, you may agree that you took someone else’s property but deny that you did so intentionally, or you may have honestly and reasonably believed that the property was your own. Alternatively, you may deny that any force, or threat of force was used which may result in a lesser charge of larceny.
Robbery in WA
Robbery is an offence under section 392 of the Criminal Code 1913 (WA). Much like in the ACT, robbery in Western Australia is a composite offence made up of property and violent offences.
For the prosecution to make out an offence of robbery they must satisfy:
- You stole something; and
- Used or threatened to use violence to any person or property before, during or after stealing something;
- In order to gain the thing, you stole; or
- To prevent or overcome resistance to its being stolen.
What is the maximum penalty for robbery?
The maximum penalty for a count of robbery is 14 years imprisonment. However, this penalty can vary depending on the existence of numerous factors. There are also variations of this offence, including intention to rob, that carry varying sentences.
If the offender commits robbery whilst armed with a dangerous or offensive weapon, or even pretends to be so armed, they may be liable to life imprisonment.
If the offence of robbery is committed under circumstances of aggravation, the maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment. To satisfy circumstances of aggravation the prosecution must prove that immediately prior to or following the offence:
- You were in the company of another person; or
- You committed bodily harm; or
- You threatened to kill someone; or
- The person you threatened or used violence against was older than 60 years old.
Alternatively, you may have been charged with a less serious offence under the Criminal Code (WA) including assault with intent to rob. This is an offence under section 393 of the Criminal Code 1913 (WA) and carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 10 years. However, if committed under aggravating circumstances or if one possesses, or pretends to be possess a dangerous weapon during this offence they may be liable to imprisonment for 14 years.
What defences might be available to you?
If you have been charged with robbery under section 392 but you deny that you stole something, there may be a range of defences available to you including:
- You honestly and reasonably believed the property belonged to you.
- You lack the relevant intent.
- You did not use or threaten force.
1 s308 Criminal Code 2002 (ACT).