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In Victoria, it is an offence to accept ownership of, or responsibility for, property or money after a crime. Offences of this nature are dealt with under section 88 and sections 194-195A of the Crimes Act 1958.
It is clear the courts take this type of offending very seriously, particularly given the maximum penalties for the charges outlined below range from 2 years to 20 years imprisonment. The accused person need not be involved in the actual theft of property, or necessarily be aware of the details of a theft, to be charged with crimes of this nature.
The Victorian legislation provides for a variety of offences and associated maximum penalties depending on the knowledge of the accused. In circumstances where the accused knew property was stolen, and they intended to conceal or take ownership of the stolen property, the penalty will be much higher than for other offenders.
Conversely, if an accused person did not know, but was negligent as to whether property was stolen, the maximum penalty is much less. As an example, this offence might occur in circumstances where the accused’s partner came home one day with a new car, but the car had no number plates. The accused did not ask any questions and started using the car. In these circumstances, Victoria Police might charge the accused with being negligent as to whether or not the car was stolen.
Proceeds of crime offences may be heard in either the Magistrates’ Court or the County Court of Victoria. Factors such as the value of the stolen property, the knowledge of the accused and the record of the accused will be relevant to the most appropriate forum for the hearing of the offending.
If you have been charged with an offence involving handling stolen goods or dealing with proceeds of crime, you must ultimately decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty to the offence/s against you. By entering a plea of guilty, a sentence hearing will be heard before a magistrate or judge. Your lawyer will make submissions on your behalf and the magistrate or judge will order a penalty against you. By entering a plea of not guilty, there will be a hearing on the evidence before the court and a decision will be made as to your innocence or guilt.
Armstrong Legal’s specialist criminal law team are available to represent you. We appreciate the often difficult circumstances surrounding allegations of this nature and will ensure you have representation of the highest calibre from the outset.
If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.
Contact Armstrong Legal:
Melbourne: (03) 9620 2777
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
Brisbane: (07) 3229 4448
Canberra: (02) 6288 1100
Perth: (08) 9321 5505