Robbery

Robbery

Robbery is found in section 75 of the Crimes Act 1958 in Victoria. It is a criminal offence that is committed by a person who performed a theft and, immediately before or at the time of doing so, used force on any person.

Have you been accused of Robbery?

Police Interview
If you have been contacted by police to attend an interview, we recommend seeking legal advice before you go. It is important that you know what you should and should not say in a police interview.

Each case has a unique set of circumstances and your lawyer will consider the facts from your case. Your lawyer will help you consider your options. Some questions you have might include:

  • Is it in your best interests to participate in a police interview?
  • Do you need to give your DNA?
  • Will you be remanded?
If the Police want to speak with you about an allegation of Robbery speak with one of our experienced lawyers first. Anything you tell the Police can be used against you later on so it is important to have a professional strategize with you from the beginning. We see many people make the mistake of speaking with the Police without speaking with a lawyer first and making comments about things which makes it hard for them to defend the charges later on.

One of our lawyers can attend your police interview with you. The support is there if you need it.

Pleading Not Guilty
Our lawyers routinely assist clients with charges of Robbery. We have in-house counsel who run our contested hearings and trials who can get involved early on to achieve the best possible outcome in relation to your charge of Robbery.

In a case like this, you want a lawyer who is going to consider the evidence that the police have against you. We will consider – Is there relevant CCTV footage? Is there DNA evidence? Are there people who the Police have not spoken to who can shed some light on this case? Is there exonerating evidence which needs to be preserved? The answer to these questions can lead to a charge of Robbery being withdrawn early in the process.

We believe it is important for our clients to understand what they are facing. When working with one of our lawyers, you will be assisted with a case strategy to increase the chances of this charge being withdrawn or leading to an acquittal.

Pleading Guilty
If you decide to plead guilty to Robbery, our lawyers can help you achieve the best result possible.

Our lawyers will add value to your plea of guilty to Robbery by preparing your case well before Court and ensuring that you understand the process ahead. Our lawyers know what submissions to make in court to properly explain your personal circumstances to the Court.

Sentencing
Sentencing in the higher courts of VictoriaSentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Robbery in the Higher CourtsSentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts of VictoriaSentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Robbery in the Magistrates' Courts
Possible Defences to a Robbery Charge
Aside from general defences such as mistaken identity and factual dispute, defences to this charge can include duress imposed on the accused by another, lack of intent, and the concept of beyond reasonable doubt. A defence to the charge may also be an honest belief in the accused to a claim of right to the property obtained. Without an act of theft, which within itself requires the accused to appropriate property belonging to another and which is a major component defining a robbery charge, this offence cannot be made out.

In a trial, the questions a judge will ask the jury to consider are:

  1. Did the accused commit theft?
    1. Did the accused appropriate property that belonged to another person>
      (Consider – Did the accused take something without the owner’s consent?)
      If yes, then he will ask 1b.
      If no, then the accused is not guilty of robbery.
    2. Did the accused intend to permanently deprive another person of that property?
      If yes, then he will ask 1c.
      If no, then the accused is not guilty of robbery.
    3. Was the accused acting dishonestly?
      (Consider – Might the accused have believed that s/he had a legal right to take the property?)
      If yes, then he will ask 2.
      If no, then the accused is not guilty of robbery.
  2. Immediately before or at the time of the theft, did the accused use force against another person?
    If yes, then he will ask 4.
    If no, then he will ask 3.
  3. Immediately before or at the time of the theft, did the accused put a person in fear, or seek to put a person in fear, that force was going to be used on him or her or another person, then and there?
    If yes, go to 4.
    If no, then the accused is not guilty of robbery.
  4. Did the accused act in this way in order to commit the theft?
    (Consider – Did the accused use or threaten the use of force for the purpose of stealing, rather than for another purpose).
    If yes, then the accused is guilty of robbery.
    If no, then the accused has not committed all the actions necessary to satisfy the definition of a robbery. Therefore the accused is not guilty.

Jurisdictional Limits

Robbery (s75 of the Crimes Act 1958) is an indictable offence, which means that it may be heard in the higher courts. However, it is generally the sort of charge regularly heard in the Magistrates’ Court as it is incredibly rare for the value of the property alleged to have been stolen to exceed $100,000.00.

It is sometimes heard in the County Court if a person is initially charged with an armed robbery and that charge results in being withdrawn or a jury finds a person not guilty of the element of being armed. Hence the offending will fall exactly within the meaning of “robbery” and not within that of “armed robbery”.

In terms of the sentencing range available, the Act stipulates that the offence carries a 15 year term of imprisonment as the highest possible sentence. However the maximum term of imprisonment that can be imposed in the Magistrates’ Court for a single offence is two years. Further, the maximum aggregate total sentence that can be imposed is five years.1

Depending on the circumstances of the offender and the nature of the robbery, it may also be possible to argue for a penalty that does not involve any actual gaol time, such as a Community Corrections Order.



[1]Sentencing (27 March 2014) Magistrates’ Court of Victoria: <https://www.magistratescourt.vic.gov.au/jurisdictions/criminal-and-traffic/criminal-proceedings/sentencing>.

The Statutory Provision
This offence is governed by section 75 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) (‘the Act’). It reads as follows:

  1. A person is guilty of robbery if he steals, and immediately before or at the time of doing so, and in order to do so, he uses force on any person or puts or seeks to put any person in fear that he or another person will be then and there subjected to force.
The Elements: What Circumstances Will Satisfy the Meaning of Robbery?
Pursuant to section 75(1) of the Act, the Prosecution must prove the following elements:

  1. The accused committed theft (stole something); The first element the Prosecution must prove is that the accused committed a theft (i.e. stole something). A person steals if s/he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another and does so with the intention of permanently depriving the other of the property.2
  2. Immediately before or at the time of the theft, the accused either:
    1. Used force on any person, or
    2. Put any person in fear that the accused or another person would, then and there, be subject to the use of force, or
    3. Sought to put any person in fear that s/he or another person would, then and there, be subject to the use of force.
    The use of force will often be easily established by way of physical force. However, it is important to note that there is no legal standard or baseline for the minimum physical contact required to constitute ‘use of force’.3 Physical force need not be applied to the body. It may be sufficient for force to be applied to items that a person is carrying.4 If a dispute arises as to whether the actions of an accused person can be said to amount to a use of force, it will be a question for the jury to determine.

    To put any person in fear of force will involve the use of some kind of threat. It requires that the victim must have feared that the force would be used “then and there”.5 It is not sufficient that there to be a threat of force at some distant point in the future. There is a minimum standard for threats capable of meeting this element. The threat must be sufficient enough to cause personal intimidation.6

    Sought to put any person in fear requires that the accused sought to put the victim in fear, even if that attempt was not successful. Under this head, it is not a requirement that the victim was actually fearful.
  3. The accused did so immediately before or at the time of stealing;
    This is in reference to element 2, namely, the force, fear of force, or act that sought to inflict fear of force, was applied “immediately before or at the time” of the theft.7 Force applied or fear induced after the fact will not meet the requirements of this element.The act of theft can be a continuous act. The force applied or fear of force induced can occur at any time prior to the act of stealing being complete.8
  4. The accused did so in order to commit a theft.Lastly, the force must have been used or threatened in order to carry out the theft.9
These elements constitute the legal definition of robbery and they need to be established beyond reasonable doubt to prove that the accused is guilty.


[2]s72 Crimes Act 1958.
[3]Dawson & James (1976) 64 Crim App R 170; Hood v R [2000] WASCA 98 – cited in Criminal Charge Book, 7.5.1.2.1 – Bench Notes: Robbery (26 March 2009) Judicial College of Victoria: http://www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au/eManuals/CCB/index.htm#5100.htm.
[4]R v Clouden [1987] Crim LR 56 – cited in Criminal Charge Book, 7.5.1.2.1 – Bench Notes: Robbery (26 March 2009) Judicial College of Victoria: http://www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au/eManuals/CCB/index.htm#5100.htm.
[5]s75(1) Crimes Act 1958.
[6]R v Butcher [1986] VR 43 cited in Criminal Charge Book, 7.5.1.2.1 – Bench Notes: Robbery (26 March 2009) Judicial College of Victoria: <http://www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au/eManuals/CCB/index.htm#5100.htm>.
[7]Above n 4.
[8]R v Hale (1978) 68 Cr App R 415 cited in cited in Criminal Charge Book, 7.5.1.2.1 – Bench Notes: Robbery (26 March 2009) Judicial College of Victoria: <http://www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au/eManuals/CCB/index.htm#5100.htm>.
[9]Above n 4.