Criminal Offences

Receiving Stolen Goods

Under section 188 of the Crimes Act 1900, receiving stolen property is classified as a criminal offence with offenders liable to significant penalties. The Crimes Act states that:

  1. Whosoever receives, or disposes of, or attempts to dispose of, any property, the stealing whereof amounts to a serious indictable offence, knowing the same to have been stolen, shall be guilty of a serious indictable offence, and may be indicted, either as an accessory after the fact, or for a substantive offence, and in the latter case whether the principal offender has been previously tried or not, or is amendable to justice or not, or is amendable to justice or not, and in either case is liable:
    1. If the property is a motor vehicle or motor vehicle part, or a vessel or a vessel part, to imprisonment for 12 years, or
    2. In the case of any other property, to imprisonment for 10 years.

This mean, regardless if an individual was involved in physically stealing goods, the mere act of accepting stolen property is a criminal offence in NSW.

As a leading criminal defence law firm based in Sydney, our expert team of criminal lawyers possess a wealth of knowledge in relation to charges of receiving stolen goods.

If you, or somebody you know is facing such charges, contact Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders now for a consultation.


The offence of receiving stolen goods is perceived as serious crime in NSW and attracts significant penalties. As seen in section 188 of the Crimes Act 1900, there are a variety of penalties that could be imposed, depending on the circumstances surrounding the offence.

First and foremost, offenders who are found guilty of receiving a stolen motor vehicle, motor vehicle parts, a vessel or vessel parts could receive a maximum penalty of 12 years imprisonment. Meanwhile, all other stolen property attracts a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 10 years.

However, it is also important to remember that the Court has the ability to impose other penalties, should they be more appropriate. Upon considering the nature of the offence, past criminal history and personal circumstances, a Court may find that penalties such as home detention, intensive correction orders, suspended sentences, community service orders, good behaviour bonds or fines may be more appropriate. The Court also has the ability to deal with matters may the means of a section 10, whereby no conviction is recorded, however, this is typically rewarded for petty offences and first time offenders.


If you have been charged with the offence of receiving stolen goods, to be found guilty of the offence, the Police will need to prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you accepted or received property
  • They property that you accepted or received was stolen
  • You had knowledge that the property was stolen
  • And the property that was stolen was done so in a manner than amounted to a serious indictable offence

If you choose agree and plead guilty to charges of receiving stolen goods, and the Police are able to prove that you did commit the offence as set out in section 188 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), it is likely that you will face the penalties listed above.

However, it is important to understand that pleading guilty often demonstrates remorse in the judiciary system, and therefore it is not uncommon for offenders to receive less severe sentences as opposed to being found guilty otherwise. The Court may simply reduce the gaol term or enforce punishments such as home detention, intensive correction orders, suspended sentences, fines or community service orders. The Court also has the discretion to enforce good behaviour bonds or section 10 dismissals in appropriate circumstances, after consideration of the offence, personal circumstances and any past criminal history.

For the most accurate advice, please contact our criminal defence law firm to schedule a confidential consultation.


Alternatively, you can decide to plead not guilty to the charges of receiving stolen goods that set out against you. In this circumstance, the Police must prove that you were guilty of charge as defined by section 188 of the Crimes Act 1900. If they are able to successfully prove this claim, it is likely that the above penalties will be imposed.

To avoid this, our expert criminal lawyers who have years of experience in criminal defence can negate these claims by arguing the following defences. These defences aim to either completely dismiss the allegations, or cast doubt over the evidence provided which will mean the the prosecution’s claims were not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If our defence strategies are successful, you will be found not guilty of the charges. However, it is important to understand that some defences only provide a partial defence. If this is the case, you will be found not guilty of receiving stolen goods, however you may be liable to a downgraded charge which is likely to have lesser penalties.

For the most accurate advice in relation to pleading guilty or not guilty, and the court proceedings that will follow, contact our Sydney based criminal defence lawyers for a consultation.


There are a variety of criminal defences that lawyers may argue on the accused’s behalf in relation to charges of receiving stolen goods. These defences include:

Duress: Encompasses the use of unlawful coercion to persuade a person to partake in an activity they would not usually participate in. This coercion can take form of harmful threats such as death or grievous bodily harm in which the accused believes that if they do not participate in the activity, they can be at risk.

Necessity: Although typically difficult to prove, the defence of necessity can be argued by our criminal defence lawyers in situations where it is found that the accused only participated in an unlawful act to avoid imminent danger by either human or natural forces.


With numerous award wins and a 90% case success rate, Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders are some of Sydney’s best criminal defence lawyers. Our team has extensive experience in representing clients throughout Local, District and Supreme Courts in NSW.

For the offence of receiving stolen property, the matter may be heard at a Local or District Court. If the value of the stolen property is less than $5,000 the matter will usually be dealt with at the Local Courts, unless elected otherwise by yourself or the Prosecution team. For more serious offences, the matter may be dealt with at the District Court.