By James Cobiac
If you have been charged with theft it is important that you seek advice from a lawyer. The experienced criminal law team at Culshaw Miller Criminal Lawyers can help you understand and properly defend the charges that have been laid against you. Theft occurs when a person deals with an owner’s property dishonestly and without the consent of the owner, with intent to permanently remove the property from the owner’s possession or encroach on their right to deal with the property. A basic offence of theft carries a maximum 10 year gaol tem and a maximum 15 year gaol term if the offence is aggravated. To secure a conviction the Crown must prove each element of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt.
There are a number of defences or potentially mitigating features to a charge of theft and a lawyer should always be consulted about your own personal circumstances. The police may have brought the charge against the wrong person, in which case it may be possible to have the charges dropped. In other cases, it may be that the Crown does not have enough evidence, or strong enough evidence, to prove that the Defendant dealt with the property dishonestly. Whether or not the defendant has dealt with property dishonestly is a question of fact for the jury to decide, because dishonesty under South Australian criminal law is measured against the standards of ordinary people. For example, taking your parent’s car for a drive even though they need it for work, may encroach on your parent’s proprietary rights to drive the car when they want to, but may not be considered dishonest by ordinary community standards. Further, the Crown must also prove that the defendant knew they were acting contrary to the standards of ordinary people. So if the defendant honestly but mistakenly believes that they had the right to deal with the property, their dealing with the property will not be dishonest. For example, if one were to mistakenly pick up a wallet thinking it were theirs, they have not dishonestly dealt with another person’s property. The defendant may also have laboured under the misapprehension that they had the consent of the owner to deal with the property. This extends to the instance where the defendant honestly believes that they had the consent of the owner even though consent was never given. Whether or not consent can be implied is determined with reference to the dealings between the owner and the defendant.
If you have been charged with theft it is important to consult a lawyer as soon as possible. Culshaw Miller Criminal Lawyers are available 24 hours a day to provide advice or attendance on 0418 421 153 or to book an appointment you can contact our offices on (08) 8464 0033. We have the expertise to ensure you are able to exercise any legal avenue reasonably available to you.