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Armed robbery offences NSW

In NSW, stealing something from someone, while threatening physical harm or using force to take the time, is considered an offence, termed as ‘Robbery’. The offence is graver if you carry a weapon while stealing. In that case, it is considered ‘Armed Robbery’.

If you carry a weapon, such as a knife or gun, and threaten to use physical force for stealing or taking something from someone forcefully, you can be charged with armed robbery, which carries a maximum punishment of 20 years’ imprisonment.

In NSW, a court can charge you with one of the following penalties if you are charged with armed robbery:

The armed robbery offece

The legislation describes the offence of 'Armed Robbery' more formally as ‘Robbery, etc or stopping a mail, being armed or in company’. It is contained in s 97(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and states:

Whosoever, being armed with an offensive weapon, or instrument, or being in company with another person, robs, or assaults with intent to rob, any person, or stops any mail, or vehicle, railway train, or person conveying a mail, with intent to rob, or search the same, shall be liable to imprisonment for twenty years.

Actions which constitute armed robbery

  • Breaking into a bottle shop while brandishing a gun, screaming at the store attendant to give you money, and then running away with the cash
  • Carrying a large rock and hitting someone over the head with it and running away with their mobile phone
  • Entering a convenience store and demanding that the cashier give you cigarettes or you will stab him/her with the knife you have in your pocket, and then jumping over the counter and grabbing cigarettes
  • Taking pepper spray with you into a bank and forcing the teller to hand over $10,000 in cash, but running away with only the pen that you took from the counter after the teller triggered the alarm.

What the police has to prove

The burden of proof in case of Armed Robbery is on the prosecution. The prosecution has to prove that

  • You carried a weapon or instrument which you either used or threatened to use
  • You had the intent to steal
  • You threatened to use force on someone
  • You took an item by force

Defences you can use

You can defend your armed robbery charge by

  • Maintaining your innocence if you are innocent
  • Arguing that you did not carry a weapon or instrument, though that could still lead to an Armed Robbery charge
  • Arguing that you had no intention of stealing the item
  • Arguing that you did not use or threaten to use force on the person
  • Arguing that you did not take or steal anything from the person, though that could still lead to an Armed Robbery charge
  • Arguing that the item is rightfully yours and you can claim ownership
  • Citing duress, self-defence, or necessity as reasons to justify your acts

Which court hears armed robbery cases?

The offence is strictly indictable and can only be finalised in the District or Supreme Court.

Aggravated armed robbery

In NSW, stealing something while threatening them or using physical force to steal the item from a person is an offence, termed as Robbery. The offence is more serious if accompanied by aggravation on your part. It is then known as ‘Aggravated Armed Robbery’.

You can be charged with ‘Aggravated Armed Robbery’ if you threaten to use or use force against someone to steal something from them while armed with a dangerous weapon. Aggravated Armed Robbery carries a maximum punishment of 25 years’ imprisonment.

In NSW, you may receive any of the following penalties for this charge:

A "dangerous weapon" is defined as being:

  • A firearm
  • A prohibited weapon, or
  • A spear gun

The offence of aggravated armed robbery:

The legislation describes the offence of 'Aggravated Armed Robbery' in s97(1) and s97(2) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Armed Robbery is defined in s97(1) as follows:

Whosoever, being armed with an offensive weapon, or instrument, or being in company with another person, robs, or assaults with intent to rob, any person, or stops any mail, or vehicle, railway train, or person conveying a mail, with intent to rob, or search the same, shall be liable to imprisonment for twenty years.

In s97(2) an aggravated offence is defined as when “the person commits an offence under subsection (1) when armed with a dangerous weapon”

Actions that constitute aggravated armed robbery

  • Brandishing a sword after entering a service station and demanding the cashier to empty out the till
  • Carrying a pistol into a store and demanding the tobacconist to give you cigarettes with a threat to shoot them if they don’t
  • Using a spear gun to threaten a stranger while walking on the street with friends with the intent to taking that stranger’s mobile phone

What the police must prove:

For you to receive a conviction, the prosecution must prove that

  • You were accompanied by other people
  • You had an intent to steal
  • You threatened to use physical force on the victim
  • You were carrying a dangerous weapon
  • You took something from the victim

Possible defences

You can defend this charge by

  • Claiming your innocence, if you are actually innocent
  • Arguing you were not carrying a dangerous weapon, though you might still receive an Armed Robbery conviction
  • Arguing that you did not intend to steal
  • Arguing that you did not use or threaten to use force
  • Arguing that the item you took is rightfully yours
  • Raising duress, necessity, or self-defence as justification for your act

The District or Supreme Court will hear this matter, as the offense is indictable.

Armed robbery in company

In NSW, stealing something while threatening them or using physical force to steal the item from a person is an offence, termed as Robbery. If, during a robbery, you are accompanied by someone and are carrying a weapon, the charge becomes more serious, known as ‘Armed Robbery in Company’.

You may be charged with this crime if you are accompanied by 1 or more persons. At least 1 of the people in the group should have been armed, and at least 1 person should have used or threatened to use physical force for the purpose of stealing something. Armed Robbery in Company carries a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment.

In NSW, you may receive any of these penalties from the court if the charge is proved:

The offence of armed robbery in company

If you are carrying a weapon which can be termed dangerous, the offence will be more serious. Dangerous weapons include spear guns, firearms, and any prohibited weapon.

The legislation describes the offence of 'Armed Robbery in company' more formally as ‘Robbery etc or stopping a mail, being armed or in company”. It is contained in s 97(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and states:

Whosoever, being armed with an offensive weapon, or instrument, or being in company with another person, robs, or assaults with intent to rob, any person, or stops any mail, or vehicle, railway train, or person conveying a mail, with intent to rob, or search the same, shall be liable to imprisonment for twenty years.

Actions that constitute armed robbery in company

  • You and your friend barge into a service station while waving a gun, forcing the attendant to give you cash by threatening harm
  • As part of a large group, you approach a tobacconist and demanding cigarettes with the threat to hit them with the large stick that you are carrying
  • Using improvised weapons to beat up a stranger on the street and taking his mobile phone in the company of your friends.

What the police must prove

To successfully bring a conviction against you, the prosecution has to prove that

  • You were accompanied by at least 1 other person
  • You had intent to steal
  • You or any member of your group was armed with a weapon
  • You threatened to use force
  • You stole or forcibly took something

Possible defences for armed robbery in company

You can defend this charge by

  • Proclaiming your innocence
  • Arguing that you were alone, which could still leave you guilty of Armed Robbery
  • Arguing that you had no intention to steal
  • Arguing that you did not use or threaten to use force
  • Denying that your group was armed
  • Arguing that the item you took is rightfully yours
  • Raising duress, necessity, or self-defence as justification for your act

Armed robbery with wounding

This charge (Section 98 of the Crimes Act) carries a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment

You can receive one of a number of penalties if found guilty of armed robbery with wounding. The penalties are mentioned later in this section.

District Court

According to past precedents from cases decided in the District Court in NSW, the mid range of seriousness for armed robbery with wounding is 5 years’ imprisonment, as inferred from our experience and statistics from the Judicial Commission of New South Wales.

As the matter is indictable, your case for armed robbery with wounding will be heard by the District Court.

Understanding the short description and law part

The court attendance notice and the police facts sheet that you receive will refer to the law part and describe the offence briefly. These references are for the assistance of the court and the lawyers to determine the offence you are charged with. The law part and brief description are mentioned below:

Law Part

     Short Description

481

Assault with intent to rob armed offensive weapon wound/grievous bodily harm -SI

482

Assault with intent to rob while in company, cause wounding/ grievous bodily harm -SI

24739

Robbery armed with offensive weapon cause wounding/ grievous bodily harm -SI

483

Robbery in company cause wounding/ grievous bodily harm -SI

    

What the police must prove:

For a successful conviction, the police have to prove, beyond doubt, that

  • You were armed with an offensive weapon or instrument, or in company
  • You assaulted or robbed with intent to rob a person
  • You wounded or grievously harmed the person before, during or after the robbery or assault

The police also have to prove that you committed the offence.

Possible defences for armed robbery with wounding

You can make the following defences against this charge:

  • Duress
  • Necessity
  • Self Defence

There are, however, other defences available as well.

Robbery in circumstances of aggravation

This charge (Section 95 of the Crimes Act) carries a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment

A court in NSW can impose one of the following penalties for this charge:

District Court

According to past precedents from cases decided in the District Court in NSW, the mid range of seriousness for robbery in circumstances of aggravation is 3.5 years’ imprisonment, which is based on the statistics provided by the NSW Judicial Commission and our experience.

First-time offenders may receive a sentence of 3 years.

The District Court in NSW will hear your case for robbery in circumstances of aggravation, as the matter is indictable.

Understanding the short description and law part

The court attendance notice and the police facts sheet that you receive will refer to the law part and describe the offence briefly. These references are for the assistance of the court and the lawyers to determine the offence you are charged with. The law part and brief description are mentioned below:

Law part

short description

51148

Aggravated assault with intent rob and deprives person of liberty-SI

51149

Aggravated assault with intent rob and inflict actual bodily harm-SI

51150

Aggravated assault with intent rob and use corporal violence-SI

460

Aggravated assault with intent to rob-SI

51151

Aggravated robbery and deprives person of liberty-SI

51152

Aggravated robbery and inflict actual bodily harm-SI

51153

Aggravated robbery and use corporal violence-SI

461

Aggravated robbery-SI

51154

Aggravated steal from person and deprive of liberty-SI

51155

Aggravated steal from person and inflict actual bodily harm-SI

51156

Aggravated steal from person and use corporal violence-SI

462

Aggravated steal from the person-SI

What the police must prove:

The police have to prove each of the following matters, beyond reasonable doubt, to secure a conviction against you on a robbery in circumstances of aggravation charge:

  1. You took and carried away valuable property, unlawfully
  2. You took the property from the rightful owner, or in his presence, or from under his immediate personal care and protection
  3. You took it against the will of the rightful owner by force or by inducing fear
  4. You intended to deprive the owner of the property permanently
  5. You committed the offence in circumstances of aggravation, including
    • Using corporal violence,
    • You, intentionally or recklessly, caused actual bodily harm
    • You compromised the victim’s liberty

The police also have to prove that you committed the offence.  

Possible defences for Robbery in circumstances of aggravation

Possible defences to a robbery in circumstances of aggravation charge include but are not limited to:

  • Duress
  • Necessity
  • Self Defence

Demanding property with intent to steal

In NSW, you can receive imprisonment of up to 10 years for demanding property with intent. It will considered an aggravated offence if you were in company, in which case the maximum penalty is 14 years’ imprisonment.

A court in NSW can impose any of the following penalties if you are convicted of this charge:

The offence of demanding property with intent to steal

The offence of demanding property with intent to steal is set out in section 99 of the Crimes Act 1900 which states: “Whosoever, with menaces, or by force, demands any property from any person, with intent to steal the same, shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.”

The aggravated offence is contained in subsection (2) of the same section, which states: “A person is guilty of an offence under this section if the person commits an offence under subsection (1) in the company of another person or persons. A person convicted of an offence under this subsection is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.”

Actions that constitute demanding property with intent to steal

  • You demand for property by threatening the owner. The threat must be menacing enough to affect any ordinary person to unwillingly give in to the demand.
  • You threatened harm to the victim, or to the victim’s property.
  • You could have made an implicit threat from your conduct, which the court might consider a menace, in case of absence of an explicit threat.
  • You did not make the threat in person but sent a letter, text message or message through social media to convey the threat
  • Section 99 of the Crimes Act specifically states that it is not relevant to this section if the menace of violence or injury is by the offender or by another person.

The police must have to prove that you:

  • Made a demand for property
  • Your demand was accompanied by menace or force
  • You had intent to steal the property

In addition, the policy must also prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that you were in company at the time of making the demand.

The defences you can use

  • Necessity
  • Duress

First offence penalties - robbery and extortion

Typically, courts are lenient on first-time offenders as compared to repeat offenders. The penalty may be reduced due to, among other reasons,

  • Good character
  • Need for rehabilitation
  • Greater remorse
  • Extra curial punishment – The impact of a strict penalty on the person’s professional opportunities

In case the court passes an order under section 10 of the Crimes Act, you will avoid a criminal conviction. However, this is more probable for first-time offenders.

The likely jail time for serious offences where section 10 does not come into play is mentioned below:

Examples:

Offence

Average jail term for first offenders

Aggravated Armed Robbery

48 months

Armed Robbery in Company

36 months

Armed Robbery with Wounding

5 years

Demanding Property with Intent to Steal

2 years

Demanding Property with Intent to Steal in Company

30 months

Robbery

3 years

Robbery in Circumstances of Aggravation

30 months

Robbery with Wounding

5 years

Aggravated Armed Robbery

48 months

Armed Robbery in Company

36 months

Robbery/stealing from a person

In NSW, robbing or assaulting with intent to rob or stealing any valuable security, chattel, or money, from any person is an offence, termed as ‘Robbery or Stealing from the Person, which carries a maximum penalty of a 14-year prison sentence.

The offence of stealing from a person

The legislation describes the offence of ‘Robbery or stealing from the person’ in Section 94 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Robbery or stealing from the person is defined in s94 as follows:

Whosoever robs or assaults with intent to rob any person, or steals any chattel, money, or valuable security from the person of another.

Definition of assault

Assault refers to any act which involves physical contact or a threat to cause reasonable fear of violence to a person. The act should be deemed intentional and reckless.

Definition of intent

Intent here means aim or purpose. The intent is inferred from the perpetrator’s actions before, during and after the act.

Definition of recklessness

Being reckless means having no regards for consequences. The perpetrator knows their action can lead to a certain outcome. For example, stealing from someone can lead to an injury to the victim. In this case, the attacker would know their actions may cause injury to the person.

Actions that constitute robbery or stealing from a person

  • Pushing someone over and stealing their bag;
  • Threatening someone with violence if they do not hand their wallet over;
  • Punching someone and attempting to take their mobile phone but being unsuccessful.

The police must prove

Robbery:

  • You had an intent to steal
  • You took property from a person’s control or presence
  • You used violence or put the person in fear

Stealing from the person:

  • You stole, money, valuable security, or chattel
  • You stole directly from the person or another person in possession of the property

The police also have to prove that you committed the offence.

Possible defences for robbery or stealing from a person

You can use the following defences, among others, against this charge

  • Duress;
  • Necessity;
  • Self-defence

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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