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7.5.10.1 - Charge: Handling by Receiving

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When to Use this Charge

This charge should be given when it is alleged that the accused handled goods by receiving them. It will need to be modified if it is alleged that the accused handled the goods in any other way.

 

The Elements

I must now direct you about the crime of handling stolen goods. To prove this crime, the prosecution must prove the following 4 elements beyond reasonable doubt:

One – the accused handled goods.

Two – those goods were stolen goods.

Three – the accused knew or believed that they were stolen goods.

Four – the handling was dishonest.

I will now explain each of these elements in more detail.

Handling of goods

The first element that the prosecution must prove is that the accused handled goods. In this case, the goods we are talking about are [identify goods].

The word "handling" is a technical legal term, which covers many different types of activities. In this case, it is alleged that the accused "handled" the goods by "receiving" them.

A person "receives" goods if he or she takes them into his or her possession or under his or her control. [1] Thus, for this element to be met you must be satisfied that NOA took possession of [identify goods], or had control over them.

[Summarise relevant evidence and arguments.]

Goods were Stolen Goods

The second element that the prosecution must prove is that the goods were stolen goods at the time NOA received them.

This means that someone must have committed the crime of theft in relation to the goods before NOA handled the goods. [2]

[Where there is a dispute about whether a person had committed the crime of theft, add appropriately modified directions here, based on Charge: Theft (Extended)]

In this case [insert relevant evidence and arguments].

Knowledge or Belief

The third element that the prosecution must prove is that the accused knew or believed that the goods were stolen goods at the time of the handling.

"Knew" and "believed" are ordinary words. A person either knows something or they don’t. A belief is less than actual knowledge, but more than a suspicion. It involves being aware of a fact and requires a firm conviction.

When you consider what the accused knew or believed about the goods, you may take into account the circumstances in which the accused acquired the goods. However, it is not enough that the accused should have known that the goods were stolen. This element only looks at what the accused in fact knew or believed.

You must focus on the accused’s state of mind at the time of the handling. A person is not guilty of handling stolen goods if s/he receives goods and then later discovers that those goods were stolen goods. The knowledge or belief that the goods were stolen must have existed at the time s/he took possession or control of the goods.

In this case [insert relevant evidence and arguments].

Dishonesty

The fourth element that the prosecution must prove is that at the time of the handling, the accused was acting dishonestly.

In this context, "dishonesty" has a special legal meaning. A person acts dishonestly when he or she handles property and does not believe that he or she has a legal right to do so.

In this case there is no evidence that the accused had any honest belief in respect of the handling. You should therefore have no difficulty finding this element proven. [3]

Summary

To summarise, before you can find NOA guilty of handling stolen goods, the prosecution must prove to you, beyond reasonable doubt:

One – that NOA handled goods; and

Two – that those goods were stolen goods at that time; and

Three – that at that time NOA knew or believed those goods were stolen goods; and

Four – that NOA handled the goods dishonestly.

If you find that any of these elements have not been proved beyond reasonable doubt, then you must find NOA not guilty of handling stolen goods.

Section 88A – Handling and Theft as Alternative Offences

[If the accused is charged with both handling stolen goods and theft in the indictment, add the following shaded section.]

As you are aware, in this case NOA has been charged with both theft of [identify goods]and handling stolen goods. [Identify relevant counts on the indictment.] These are alternative charges. It is the prosecution’s case that NOA either stole the goods him/herself, and so is guilty of theft, or s/he received them, and so is guilty of handling stolen goods.

There are, then, four possible views you might take about this case.

One – You are satisfied that the accused is guilty of theft;

Two – You are satisfied that the accused is guilty of handling stolen goods;

Three – You are satisfied that the accused is guilty of one of theft or handling stolen goods, but are unable to decide which one;

Four – You are not satisfied that the accused is guilty of either theft or handling.

I must direct you as a matter of law that if each of you are individually satisfied of one of the first three possibilities I just mentioned, but you are unable to unanimously agree on which offence the accused committed, the law requires you in that situation to find the accused guilty of theft and not guilty of handling, as theft is considered the less serious offence.

I emphasise that this only applies if you are all satisfied that the accused is guilty of either theft or guilty of handling. If any juror is not satisfied that the accused is guilty of theft or handling, then you will either return a verdict of not guilty of both offences, if you all take that view, or you will inform me that you are unable to reach a unanimous decision, if that is the case.

 

Notes

[1] If possession is in issue, it may be necessary to direct the jury about the requirements of common law possession. See Charge: Possession of Child Pornography for assistance.

[2] If the goods may be "stolen goods" for another reason (e.g., because they were obtained through blackmail) this section will need to be modified accordingly. See Handling Stolen Goods for information concerning the meaning of "stolen goods".

[3] If the issue of dishonesty is disputed, this section of the charge will need to be modified accordingly. See Charge: Theft (Extended) for assistance.

 

Last updated: 3 December 2012

See Also

7.5.10 - Handling Stolen Goods

7.5.10.2 - Charge: Handling for the Benefit of Another

7.5.10.3 - Checklist: Handling Stolen Goods