Larceny, commonly referred to as theft, involves the unlawful taking and carrying away of personal property belonging to another with the intent to permanently dispossess the owner of it.

This blog post will explore this offence in detail, discussing the legal elements that must be proved for Larceny and the penalties involved.

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If you have been charged with Larceny, understanding these offences is crucial. It is important to remember that you should always seek legal advice. We here at National Criminal Lawyers®, offer free initial consultations, for you to discuss your matter with one of our many skilled Criminal Defence Lawyers, and see how we can best assist you, to reach the best outcome possible for your case.

In NSW, larceny is primarily dealt with under section 117 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). Larceny can either be a summary or an indictable offence, however this depends on how the Prosecution approaches the case.

Elements of Larceny

Larceny requires several elements to be proven in order to reach a guilty verdict:

  1. Taking and Carrying Away: There must be a physical movement of the property. This element ensures that the property was moved from its original position by the offender. No matter how small the movement, some level of movement must be proved as part of the offence.
  2. Belonging to Another: The property must belong to someone other than the offender at the time of the theft. This means that another individual was the legal owner of the property at the time.
  3. Without Consent: The taking must be without the consent of the owner. This means that if the individual who that property belongs to, allows an individual to take a possession, the individual is not liable for larceny.

Elements relating to the mental state of the accused which must exist at the time of the offence must also be analysed which include, but not necessarily limited to the following:

  1. Intention to Permanently Deprive: The offender must have intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property. Stealing is not constituted if the property is only taken temporarily, unless at the time of stealing, the offender is able to understand that the timeline of temporarily taking the possession may be in the same realm as permanently.
  2. Without a claim of right made in good faith: This means that if an offender at the time of the offence genuinely believed they had legal right to take the property, then larceny cannot be charged. Such a requirement protects individuals who may have had small misunderstandings or made small accidental errors leading to the accidental theft of a possession.
  3. Taken Dishonestly: This factor is established in cases when an accused has been found to be having no claim of rights. This generally implies the offence was committed with dishonesty.


The penalties for larceny in NSW vary depending on the value of the property stolen and the jurisdiction where it is heard. As per s 117 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), the maximum penalty for larceny is 5 years if dealt with in District Court or 2 years if dealt with in Local Court.

Please note that these kinds of penalties are reserved for the worst severity of Larceny offences. It is important to seek legal advice, if you find yourself being charged with Larceny to achieve the best outcome possible for your matter. Contact us to discuss your matter by clicking here.

Within the Local Court:

  • For Larceny of property under the value of $2000 has the maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and a $2200 fine.
  • For Larceny of property between the values of $2000 and $5000, the maximum penalty is 2 years and a $5,500 fine.
  • For Larceny of property exceeding the value of $5000, the maximum penalty is 2 years and a $11000 fine.

However, it must be noted that this is simply in regards to larceny charges, and any crimes committed in along side the larceny, will carry their own charges and respective maximum penalties.

One such example would be the offence of breaking and entering, for the purposes of Larceny. Break and enter crimes involve entering a property without consent, usually with the intent to commit an offence such as larceny, assault, or vandalism. In NSW, this offence is covered under section 112 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). While larceny and break and enter can occur together, they are separate offences with different legal definitions and elements. Larceny focuses on the taking of property with intent to permanently deprive the owner, whereas break and enter centres around the unlawful entry into a property with the intent to commit an indictable offence. Breaking and Entering carries a penalty of maximum 14 years imprisonment. Thus, whilst the offence of Larceny only carries a maximum penalty of 5 years, crimes committed simultaneously carry different maximum penalties and hence can dramatically impact the final outcome.

Find out more about breaking and entering here.


Case Law

A previous client of National Criminal Lawyers® was charged with Larceny. However, we were able to reduce the moral culpability of the offence and make various submissions in regard to the severity of the offence, including but not limited to no prior offending submissions and mental health submissions.

For more information about the factors which affect sentencing click here.

Given the offence was on the low end of objective seriousness, we were able to achieve a dismissal without recording a conviction for our client as per section 10(1)(a) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. Our client was only left to pay a small compensation order, achieving an amazing result given the circumstances.

Find out more about Larceny here.

The team here at National Criminal Lawyers®, excel in representing all different types of clients, in all different types of criminal matters including Larceny. Remember, it is critical that you receive legal help and representation if you ever find yourself being charged by police.


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