Stealing as a servant means stealing money or goods through your employment. It is an extremely serious charge and is not dealt with lightly by the courts.
Generally we have found these charges involve the taking of cash directly from the till or taking of stock. The charges with higher amounts usually involved the changing of invoices, the transfer of money from the business bank account or manipulation of the EFTPOS machine.
What court will hear this charge?
In most cases the Magistrates Court will hear the charge, if the amount stolen exceeds $30,000 then in some cases the District Court will hear the charge. Whatever the cases the charge will always start out in the Magistrates Court.
What does the prosecutor have to prove?
The prosecutor would need to prove all of the following
- The defendant was an employee, clerk or servant
- The item taken was capable of being stolen
- The item taken was owned by the employer
- The item was taken without the consent of the employer
- The item was taken with fraudulent intent
For more information see our stealing webpage
What defences exist?
A number of possible defences exists including;
- There was not fraudulent intent in talking the item
- Mistake of fact
- The Employer gave consent to take the item
Could the charges be reduced or withdrawn?
It is possible to negotiate with the prosecutor over the charges. This is known as case conferencing and usually occurs once the police prosecutors brief (known as the QP9) is provided to the defendant or their lawyer. The QP9 will set out what the police prosecutor intends to tell the court happened. This includes the details of the alleged stealing, the amount involved and the general circumstances.
It takes an experienced criminal lawyer to advise on the possibility of negotiating the charge with the prosecutor.
What is the likely penalty?
The maximum penalty is 10 years if heard in the District Court or 3 years if heard in the Magistrates Court.
In any circumstances where money or goods are obtained deceitfully or fraudulently, whether from an employer, business or an individual client the charge is dealt with harshly and can easily result in a person serving jail time and having a conviction recorded. Stealing as a servant has always tended to result in harsh sentences due to the opportunities for concealment it provides and the betrayal of trust it involves. It will always be more harshly punished than stealing.
When sentencing you the Magistrate or Judge will look at the facts and circumstances including the amount stolen, whether it has been paid back, the time span in which the stealing was carried out, the defendants criminal history, personal circumstances i.e. financial hardship, mental health issues, remorse etc.
An example of the severity of the nature of this charge can be demonstrated in a Queensland case, R v Jenkins, wherein a man was found guilty of 3 separate charges of theft of less than a total of $3,000 in cash and liquor from his employment over a period of less than 3 months.
His charges were comprised of the following:
Charge 1 - stealing the sum of $170 from his employer
Charge 2 - stealing the sum of $1,995 from his employer
Charge 3 - dishonestly applying to his own use a quantity of liquor belonging to his employer to the value of $765.60 (incl GST).
The total amount being $2,930.60.
The matter was dealt with in the Brisbane District Court and the sentence handed down was 9 months imprisonment for each offence, to be served concurrently and suspended after 3 months (meaning after serving 3 months actual jail time Jenkins was released). In that case the court said
Stealing as a servant has always tended to attract heavier sentences because of the opportunities for concealment it provides and the betrayal of trust it involves
If you are charged with stealing as a servant there are multiple steps we can take to help ensure you receive the best possible outcome.
Can no conviction be recorded?
When deciding whether to record a conviction to court looks at the following;
- The nature of the offence
- The offenders character and age
- The impact on the offenders
- Economic or social wellbeing; or
- Changes of finding employment
In R v Bryant the stated in regards to regarding a conviction for a stealing as a servant charge;
It is the recording of the conviction that is the applicant's real concern because it may put her at a disadvantage in applying for future employment of this or other kinds. But I consider that prospective employers are entitled to know about such matters and to make up their own minds about the risks involved in employing persons who have committed offences of this kind. It is no part of or function of judges to conceal such information from them.
As you can see getting no conviction is tough, not impossible by very difficult. For more information on what the recording of a conviction means click here.
Why engage a Lawyer?
Its simple, experienced criminal lawyers know the law, the magistrates, the prosecutors and the court process. A person without that knowledge will quickly become overwhelmed.
Every week we get calls from people who represented themselves, had a harsh penalty imposed or conviction recorded and are desperate to try and change the outcome which at that stage is almost impossible. We also often get calls from desperate relatives who have seen their family members sentenced to serve time in prison.
This is not a charge you go to court for without an experienced criminal lawyer.
What courts do you cover?
We cover all courts in South East Queensland from Southport to Gympie and out to Toowoomba.
We are also a criminal law firm, we don’t do any other type of law so we are in the courts every day helping people with charges like this.
Just some of the courts we appear in for stealing are;
What do you charge?
We charge a flat upfront fee for our services that means no hidden charges or unexpected bills.
Our prices include;
- full preparation for court including checking for defences and devising strategy to minimise penalty
- negotiations with the police prosecution unit including obtaining criminal history and charge documents
- drafting submissions for the court
- all telephone calls, emails and meetings with you
- detailed information to you on the likely penalty and information on what will happen at court and afterwards
- appearing in the court with you to conduct your guilty plea
To see what we will for a guilty plea on a stealing charge click here or contact us for a quote.
How do I get more information or engage Clarity Law to act for me?
If you want to engage us or just need no obligation information or advice then you can either;
- Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
- Visit our website at www.claritylaw.com.au
- Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
Disclaimer – this article contains general advice only and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. Its represents information about the law in Queensland and since publishing the law or the interpretation of that law may have changed.