Receiving stolen goods

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What is Receiving Stolen Goods ?

Whoever receives, possesses, conceals, stores, barters, sells, or disposes of any goods knowing the same is stolen commits the crime of receiving stolen property.

Case law/Jurisdiction

An offence of Receiving stolen goods with a value that exceeds $5000 is what is known as a Table 1 offence under the relevant legislation, which means it is to be dealt with in the Local Court unless an election is made for trial on indictment by the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) or the accused.

The offence is a Table 2 offence where the property does not exceed $5000 which means it is to be dealt with in the Local Court unless an election is made for trial on indictment by the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

At common law receiving is comprised of the following three elements:

  1. The property must be stolen. That is to say the property has not returned to the possession of the person from whom it was stolen.
  2. It must be proved in evidence that the defendant took possession not merely custody of the goods
  3. The defendant must have/had the belief that the property was stolen

The nature and elements of the offence of receiving stolen property were considered in R v Raad [1983] 3 NSWLR 344 wherein the court held that the prosecution had to prove that the defendant actually believed the property was stolen in the sense that they accepted the truth that it was stolen. Mere suspicion or deliberate closing of the eyes was not sufficient.

The Law

The offence of Receiving Stolen Property is contained in section 188 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and states:

(1) Whosoever receives, or disposes of, or attempts to dispose of, any property, the stealing whereof amounts to a serious indictable offence, knowing the same to have been stolen, shall be guilty of a serious indictable offence, and may be indicted, either as an accessory after the fact, or for a substantive offence, and in the latter case whether the principal offender has been previously tried or not, or is amenable to justice or not, and in either case is guilty of an offence:

What must the prosecution prove?

Since Receiving stolen goods is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution.

The prosecution must prove the Accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

That is a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of Receiving stolen goods

To establish Receiving stolen goods, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • That you accepted or received property;
  • That property was stolen;
  • The property was stolen in a manner that amounted to a serious indictable offence; and
  • You knew the property was stolen.

If you are charged with the offence of Receiving stolen goods what are your options?

National Criminal Lawyers have been successful in defending a large number of Receiving stolen goods charges where the prosecution could not establish each of the elements of Receiving stolen goods. We have also achieved a number of non-convictions for Receiving stolen goods charges.

NCL offer the following options for those who have been charged with Receiving stolen goods:

  1. We will negotiate with prosecutors (police or DPP) (a term referred to as “plea negotiations”) to request that the charge is withdrawn, downgraded or fact sheets amended;
  2. NCL will Plead Not Guilty and go to hearing/trial and persuade the Court that prosecution has not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt;
  3. Plead guilty to the elements of the charge and then dispute the facts (at a special “disputed facts” hearing) with the view of having you sentenced less harshly; and/or
  4. Plead guilty with full acceptance of the facts as set out by the police and make strong submissions on your behalf requesting that the Court not record a criminal conviction.

Pleading Guilty

If you agree that you have committed the offence and the police are able to prove all the elements of the offence, it is best to plead guilty at an early opportunity to receive the maximum discount. Currently the maximum discount available for an early plea of guilty is 25% of the sentence.

Furthermore, the early guilty plea shows the Court that you have remorse and contrition for your actions.

Our Lawyers at National Criminal Lawyers work closely with you to ensure that we obtain all necessary paper work at increasing the chances of obtaining a non-conviction or section 10.

Maximum Penalties

Receiving stolen goods can be punished with a prison sentence of up to 2 years (if heard in the Local Court) or can be punished in the District Court with a prison sentence of up to 12 years (a) if the property is a motor vehicle or a motor vehicle part, or a vessel or a vessel part OR (b) in the case of any other property, to imprisonment for 10 years.

Please note that the penalties mentioned are reserved for the worse case offending and are unlikely to be the penalty you receive.

Pleading Not Guilty

If you decide to plead not guilty you will need to prepare to go to a Defended Hearing.

A defended hearing is where all the witnesses of that case are called to give evidence. The witnesses are both examined by the prosecution and tested by your defence lawyers.

National Criminal Lawyers have defended thousands of people charged with Receiving stolen goods and are experts at these hearings.


Some of the possible defences available for those charged with Receiving stolen goods can include:

  • To argue that you did not actually receive the property;
  • To argue that the property was not stolen;
  • To argue that the property was not stolen in a way that amounted to a strictly indictable offence; or
  • Duress-If you were compelled to act in a certain way due to the circumstances, or the threats of another you may be able to argue “Duress”


The Courts are not bound by statistics however there must be reasonable consistency in sentences. A Magistrate or Judge should have regard to what has been done in other cases. In Green [2011] HCA 45, the plurity judgement of French CJ, Kiefel and Creennan JJ stated:

“Equal Justice” embodies the norm expressed in the terms “equality before the law”. It is an aspect of the rule of law.

For Receiving stolen goods up to $5,000, 26% of offenders received full time imprisonment whereas 36% received a s9 Good Behaviour Bond

For Receiving stolen goods over $5,000, 28% of offenders received full time imprisonment whereas 30% received a s9 Good Behaviour Bond

For Receiving stolen goods recorded as an “amount unknown” 100% of offenders received full time imprisonment.

Possible Penalty's

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a Receiving stolen goods charge.

  • Prison sentence;
  • Home Detention;
  • Intensive correction order (previously periodic detention);
  • Suspended sentence;
  • Community service order (CSO);
  • Good behaviour bond;
  • Fine;
  • Section 10.

However, from the 24 September 2018 new penalty’s will be replacing the above. They are as follows:

  • Full time Imprisonment;
  • New ICO (ICO) with a home detention condition available;
  • New Community Correction Order (CCO);
  • Fine;
  • New Conditional release Order (CRO).

Case Studies

When our client was stopped by police she gave them a false name. When police asked for her correct details she turned and ran through the yards of a public hospital. Police caught her and seized a stolen watch. She pleaded guilty to a receiving charge and no conviction was recorded.

Why National Criminal Lawyers?

There are three reasons to choose National Criminal Lawyers:

1. We get the results

We are the experts in either beating or having criminal charges withdrawn AND/OR obtaining the least restrictive penalty available. This is because no matter which option you choose within our tailored Options at Law you will be dealing with experienced criminal lawyers who can make sure the evidence is not only obtained properly but also that your case is prepared and presented to the highest best practice standards possible. This is also done without breaking your pocket.

2. We give a Senior Defence Lawyer guarantee

No matter which option at law you choose, National Criminal Lawyers can guarantee that a Senior Defence Lawyer will represent you. This means that with our over 25 years of Combined criminal law experience you will get the best result possible.

3. National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights

At National Criminal Lawyers we know that Criminal Law is a matter of Human Rights. For this reason, we take pride and passion in representing our clients. This pride and passion to assist those charged with an alleged or actual breach of the criminal law is to us a matter of righteous necessity and in that sense, you can always rest assured that National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights. This true not only when the police have just simply got it wrong OR if they have got it right then we can speak with you and make sure you get you the best result available.

If you have been charged with any Receiving Stolen Goods offence our Team at National Criminal Lawyers are well versed and specialists in having charges either withdrawn and otherwise achieving favourable outcomes.

Please contact our office on 02 9893 1889 or visit www.nationalcriminallawyers.com.au for more information about your options.

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