Theft is a serious offence contrary to section 134 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA). It carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for a basic offence, and 15 years imprisonment for an aggravated offence.
The prosecution must prove four elements:
- The person dealt with property;
- The dealing of that property was dishonest;
- The person did not have the property owner’s consent; and,
- The person intended to either permanently deprive the owner of the property or make a serious encroachment on the owner’s proprietary rights.
The offence can arise by the person stealing the property or receiving stolen property, the latter being charged as receiving. The offence can also be aggravated in circumstances such as, the person committing the offence in company with one (1) or more other persons.
A possible defence that may be raised includes that the person was acting honestly or held an honest belief that they had rights to the relevant property at law or equity. If this defence arises, the prosecution have the burden of proving that the person did not hold the relevant belief.
Theft can occur in many different circumstances, such as a minor shoplifting offence or a more serious charge of theft during the course of employment. If theft occurs over a prolonged period or includes a level of sophistication and planning then this is likely to increase any sentence.
If you are charged with theft then please call our office to obtain accurate and timely advice about your matter.