Criminal Offences

Car Stealing

Under section 154F of the Crimes Act 1900, stealing a motor vehicle or vessel is classified as a criminal offence with offenders liable to significant penalties. It may often be confused with the less serious charge of joyriding. While joyriding refers to circumstances where a car was stolen and later returned, the offence of stealing a motor vehicle or vessel is characterised stealing a vehicle or vessel without the intention of giving it back, permanently depriving the owner of their property.


Stealing a motor vehicle or vessel is a serious criminal offence in the state of NSW. As seen in section 154F of the Crimes Act 1900, this offence attract a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 10 years in gaol.

While, the offence of stealing a motor vehicle or vessel may have a significant gaol sentence, the Court has the ability to enforce other penalties in appropriate situations. After considering the nature of the offence, criminal history and personal circumstances, a Court may determine that full time imprisonment is unnecessary.

If this is the case, the Court may impose penalties such as home detention in which an offender will be strictly supervised and must adhere to electronic monitoring or Intensive Correction Orders (ICOs) which takes form as periodic detention. Other penalties that a Court may find more appropriate for some offenders include suspended sentences, community service, good behaviour bonds or a fine.

A Court may also deal with the matter by the means of a section 10, in which no criminal conviction is recorded. It is important to understand that section 10 dismissals are typically enforced in minor circumstances, where the crime was insignificant and the offender does not have a lengthy criminal history. For the best chance of receiving a section 10 dismissal, it is advised to contact a criminal defence lawyer.


If you have been charged with the offence of stealing a vehicle or vessel, the prosecution will need to establish the following beyond a reasonable doubt in order for you to be found guilty of such a crime.

  • A motor vehicle or vessel was stolen
  • You have the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the motor vehicle or vessel
  • You were the one who committed the offence.

If you tend to agree with the allegations, you have the opportunity to plead guilty. If this is the case, you will proceed to sentencing whereby you will be facing a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 10 years.

However, pleading guilty may be more favourable than being found guilty otherwise. It is not uncommon for the Court to impose lesser sentences or penalties on offenders who plead guilty, as those who do so often show remorse for their actions. As a result, the Court may minimise the gaol term. Impose monetary fines or enforce non custodial punishments such as community service.

In some circumstances, upon deliberation of the offenders past criminal history, personal situation and the nature of the offence, the Court may even decide to deal with matter by the means of a section 10 dismissal, in which no convicted will be recorded. If this is the case, the Court may decide to impose no penalties at all, or may impose bond conditions that must be followed, otherwise the dismissal could be revoked.

For the most accurate advice, please contact our Sydney or Parramatta based criminal defence lawyers to schedule a confidential consultation.


Should you decide to plead not guilty to the charges of stealing a motor vehicle or vessel, the prosecution team will need to establish and prove that you did commit the crime as per section 154F of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). If they are successful, you could be found guilty and a penalty will be enforced by the Court.

However, if the prosecution is unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was committed, you will be found not guilty. Therefore, as criminal defence lawyers, cross-examine the evidence provided by the prosecution team to cast doubt on its reliability. We also utilise various defence strategies in order to dismiss any allegations that are made against you.

Due to the serious nature of the offence, it is recommended that you are facing such charges, to seek the expertise of dedicated and knowledgeable criminal defence lawyers. At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders we have wealth of experience defending various criminal charges and are dedicated to achieving the best outcome possible.


There are many defences that our criminal law firm may utilise during cases of car theft. Some of the appropriate defences for such a charge include:

Duress: Involves the use of harmful threats such death or grievous bodily harm in order to coerce an individual to participate in unlawful activities. If it can be proven that you received a harmful threat which you believed would be acted upon should you have not participated in the activity, you may have a suitable defence of duress.

Necessity: Although sometimes difficult to corroborate, a person accused of car theft may be able to be defended by the means of necessity. In order for this defence to be accepted, our criminal defence lawyers will need to demonstrate that the accused participated in unlawful activities to avoid an impending threat from human or natural forces. A sense of urgency must be proved, and the accused must holistically believe that if they didn’t participate in the offence, that they were facing “imminent peril” and “irreparable evil”.


The offence of stealing a motor vehicle or vessel as per section 154F of the Crimes Act 1900 is generally classified as a table matter. In this instance, the matter is typically dealt with in the Local Court. However, in significant circumstances, the matter may be dealt with at the District or Supreme Court.

As some of Sydney’s best criminal defence lawyers with 90% success rate for the cases we have represented, our team has achieved great results in various Courts throughout NSW. Clients can be confident that whether their case is dealt with at a Local, District or Supreme Court, our Sydney criminal lawyers possess the expertise to effectively handle the matter.

If you or someone you know is facing charges of stealing a motor vehicle or vessel, call our expert team now for a consultation.