Stealing is the fraudulent taking, conversion or use of "anything capable of being stolen" without the consent of the owner. The offence is contained in section 391 of the Queensland Criminal Code. It carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment unless there is a circumstance of aggravation, in which case the maximum penalty is between 10 and 14 years' imprisonment.
A circumstance of aggravation is an allegation that increases the applicable maximum penalty. Circumstances of aggravation for stealing including stealing wills or livestock, stealing from your employer (stealing by clerks or servants), or stealing as an agent or company director.
Defences to a charge of stealing include:
- the owner consented;
- the accused person honestly and reasonably (but mistakenly) believed that the owner consented;
- the accused person has an honest claim of right to the property;
- the property was abandoned;
- the dispute is civil or commercial rather than criminal in nature.
The penalties for stealing vary depending on, among other things, the type of property stolen, whether there is a circumstance of aggravation and whether there has been a return of the property or restitution.