Goods In Custody Offences

Receiving Stolen Property

The elements of the offence is: 

(i) that the property had been stolen, “the stealing whereof amounts to a serious indictable offence”.

“Serious indictable offence” is defined exclusively to mean an indictable offence punishable by imprisonment for life or for a term of five years or more.

(ii) that the accused received, disposed of, or attempted to dispose of the property;
(iii) that at the time the accused received, disposed of, or attempted to dispose of the property, he or she knew or believed it to be stolen.

The law relating to “recent possession” may be relied upon by the Crown in relation to an offence of receiving, as it does to larceny.

“Receiving” entails possession. In the case of actual physical possession, the Crown must prove an intention to exercise custody and control exclusively, except as to others who may be acting in concert with the accused.

The guilty knowledge (or belief) must exist at the time of coming into possession of the stolen goods — possession acquired after the goods have been acquired is not sufficient, however it may, depending on the circumstances of the case, justify an inference of knowledge that they were stolen when the accused came into possession of them.

The Crown must prove that, at the time of receipt of the goods, the accused knew or believed them to have been stolen. It is not required to establish actual knowledge — it being sufficient to establish a subjective belief by the accused that they were stolen. It is the accused’s state of mind which must be emphasised to the jury and not the state of mind of a hypothetical reasonable person, although what a reasonable or ordinary person may have believed in the circumstances is a relevant consideration which may lead to an inference of actual belief in the mind of the Accused.

Goods in Custody Offences
In NSW it is an offence to be in possession of an item which is likely to have been stolen or ‘unlawfully obtained’. ‘Unlawfully obtained’ means taking or coming into possession of an item in a way which is contrary to law or the rights of another person. The offence is often referred to by police as ‘goods in custody’ or ‘goods in custody reasonably suspected of being stolen’. Sometimes, it is also referred to as ‘unlawful possession’.
A person can be charged with this offence if they have possession of an item and it is reasonable to assume that the item has been stolen or unlawfully obtained. Having possession of an item includes physically holding or having the item, giving the item to someone else to hold or mind temporarily or having the item in your place of residence. You can also be charged with the offence if it can be shown that you had possession of the item before selling or giving the item to someone else.
The maximum penalty for this offence is 6 months imprisonment or 5 penalty units. If the item is a motor vehicle the maximum penalty increases to 1 year imprisonment or 10 penalty units.