Goods in Custody Offences
What is Goods in Custody?
Goods in Custody refers to an offence where a person has in their possession any item that may reasonably be suspected of being stolen or unlawfully obtained.
Goods in Custody & The Law
Goods in Custody is an offence under Section 527C of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
What the Prosecution need to Prove (Beyond a Reasonable Doubt):
A. Possession of the Item
The accused had an item in their possession; or
The accused had an item in the possession of another person; or
The accused had an item in or on the premises, occupied by either them or another person; or
The accused gave custody of an item to another person who was not entitled to have it
B. Item may be reasonably suspected of being stolen or unlawfully obtained
The Prosecution will also need to prove that the accused had reasonable grounds for suspecting that the item was stolen or unlawfully obtained.
However, there is no requirement to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the item is stolen.
What is reasonable suspicion?
If the matter is contested, the Courts will need to make a determination on whether a reasonable suspicion can be concluded on the particular circumstances of the matter, that would suggest that the item was stolen or unlawfully obtained. The suspicion will be in relation to the item itself, not on who took them.
The Magistrate may also come to such conclusion if they determine that the item was obtained unlawfully, for example bought with proceeds from illegal activity.
Going to Court – “What am I looking at?”
Goods in Custody carries a maximum penalty of $550 and/or 6 months imprisonment in the Local Court.
If the item or goods is a motor vehicle or a motor vehicle part, the offence carries a maximum penalty of $1,100 and/or 12 months imprisonment.
While the implications of a conviction for such a charge can be significant, it is a charge that is quite often defended or dismissed on the basis of vague or ambiguous evidence, or when a larger matter consisting of other charges is not prosecuted further.
Police will often use this as a back-up charge to more serious theft charges, where there is insufficient evidence to show that theft or robbery occurred beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is highly recommended to speak to an expert Defence solicitor if you have been charged with this offence, for a clear explanation of the specific evidentiary rules on how this offence is applied and also defended on the particular Police Facts.
How can I possibly defend a “suspicion”?
At Lawyer Call, we understand that the threshold requirement for the Prosecution to prove this charge is much lower than with other offences.
It is important to keep in mind some important legal aspects before considering entering a plea of guilty to this offence:
Did the accused have the item or goods on their person at the time of the arrest?
If the person is questioned but not charged or arrested with the item or goods being in their possession, and then, at a later stage, the arrest happens with the goods no longer being in the person’s possession, a conviction will not be successful.
Did the accused know that the item or goods were on the premises?
If the Prosecution cannot attribute exclusive physical possession and control to the accused, the offence will not be proven and conviction will not be successful.
Did the accused have no reasonable grounds to suspect that the item or goods were stolen or unlawfully obtained?
If the accused had no reasonable grounds to suspect the item or goods were stolen or unlawfully obtained, and the Defence team can prove this on a balance of probabilities, the charge may be successfully defended.
Have the Prosecution run out of time to charge me?
If the charge has been laid after six months from the commission of the alleged crime, it will be too late to lay another charge, and as a result the charge will be dismissed
Lawyer Call – here to help..
Contact our experienced team of Defence solicitors to obtain appropriate and honest legal advice regarding the prospects of defending this charge and the best course to proceed when going to Court.
Alternatively, if a plea of guilty is more appropriate in the circumstances, our Lawyer Call Defence Criminal solicitors have in-depth preparation in gathering and analysing specific medical and supporting documentation to assist your case and make relevant sentencing submissions addressing the early plea of guilty, the value of the item, the circumstances of the offence, as well as any subjective factors that will present an overall picture to achieve the best possible outcome before a Magistrate and obtain a more lenient sentence.