Good in Custody

What is a charge of ‘Goods in Custody?’

The charge of “goods in custody” refers to offences under s 527C of the Crimes Act of having a connection with goods that are reasonably suspected of being stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained. As opposed to offences such as larceny, there is no requirement of proof beyond reasonable doubt that the goods are in fact stolen or not that the owner is not legally entitled to them. As a result, a charge of goods in custody is often relied on by prosecuting authorities as a charge of last resort where more serious theft charges cannot be laid.

Key Areas

There are a number of key points concerning offences under s 527C(1):
• There are four different offences under the subsection. Each requires a different set of factual circumstances in order to be proven. Therefore, a mislaid charge under one subsection might be unsustainable. This can be very important for statute of limitations purposes. See Case Study A below.
• The first offence under s 527C(1) is goods in personal custody (s 527C(1)(a)). This has been interpreted to mean “immediate de facto control” (Ex parte McPherson (1933) 50 WN 25). What is important here is that the suspect has the goods in their custody at the time of arrest. If a person is questioned but not arrested or charged while the goods are in their custody, and they are later arrested when the goods are no longer in their custody, the charge cannot stick (R v English (1989) 44 A Crim R 273).
• For a charge under the third subsection under s 527C(1), goods in custody in or on premises (s 527C(1)(c)), there needs to be both knowledge by the person charged of the presence of the goods on the premises as well as the exercise of custody or control over it. The classic case is Filippetti (1984) 13 A Crim R 335, where the accused was charged with possession after a quantity of cannabis was discovered in a couch in the common area of a household with a number of occupants. The prosecution could not prove the exclusive physical control by the accused, so Filippetti was acquitted.
• Section 572C(2) provides a defence where the prosecution case has already been made out. If the defence can prove on the balance of probabilities that the accused had in their own mind no reasonable grounds for suspecting that the goods were stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained. For an application of this defence, see Case Study B below.
• Timing is everything. Under the Criminal Procedure Act s 179, the prosecution only has six months from the commission of the alleged crime to charge the suspect. Therefore, if the prosecution has laid a charge under the wrong subsection as per paragraph [1] above, they may not lay a fresh charge under a different subsection if a six months have passed. See Case Study A below.

Case Study A – the exhaust pipes

We represented a man charged with goods in custody under s 527C(1)(a), who was alleged to have stolen a pair of exhaust pipes off a truck and attached them to his own truck. The evidence of the complainant was that the exhaust pipes on his truck had gone missing, and some months later our client had attended the complainant’s work to pick up some stock. The complainant noticed our client’s truck and thought that his missing pipes were on our client’s truck. He took some photos of the truck and contacted the police. The police interviewed our client, who denied taking the pipes. Later, the police attended our client’s residence, where they saw his truck parked on the nature strip. They took some photos of the truck, but they did not see or talk to our client. Our client was arrested some days later, with the truck sight unseen.

When the case came to court, six months had already elapsed. We were firmly of the opinion that our client should have been charged under s 527C(c) if at all, that being goods in or on premises. The Court agreed and dismissed the charges. Because six months had already elapsed, the prosecution was unable to lay fresh charges, and our client could walk free, keep the pipes alleged to have been stolen, and was successful in obtaining an order for his legal costs in light of the weak prosecution case which should never have been pursued in the way that it was.

Case Study B – the Xbox

Another goods in custody case in which the defendant was successful which we had the opportunity to observe was one concerning an Xbox game console. The accused was a young ex-con who had recently come out of jail. He was accused of giving custody of a stolen Xbox to the operator of a pawn shop when he hocked it for cash (s 527C(1)(d)). He came into possession of a stolen Xbox, which he later hocked at a pawn shop. The prosecution case was made out: there was a giving of custody, and the thing was reasonably suspected of being stolen, as the prosecution evidence at the hearing proved that the Xbox which was hocked was the same Xbox as one which was reported missing from the same area some months before. However, a defence was raised that the accused had no reasonable grounds for suspecting that the goods were stolen.

The accused’s story was a bit simple, but believable enough: he had just come out of jail, he and a friend attended a garage sale, the friend out of generosity had bought him the Xbox, and after playing with it for a few months, he had decided to sell it. The prosecution tried to discredit his story by pointing out that the accused could not remember his friend’s full name (he was described as a “drug friend”), and that he could not remember the exact time or location of the garage sale (“I’m terrible with remembering details”). However, the story was believable enough on the balance of probabilities, and the accused obtained the benefit of the doubt and was acquitted.

Conclusion

Charges of goods in custody are often used by prosecuting authorities where the more traditional theft offences cannot be made out. While they might be easier to prove, there are important rules around how these offences can be charged and proven, so it is important to obtain experience legal representatives to handle any goods in custody matter.

Acknowledgment

The author wishes to acknowledge the paper “Goods in Custody – a Discussion Paper” by Mark Dennis, delivered at the NSW ALS State Conference in 3 July 2003, which has been of much assistance in the preparation of this article as well as in dealing with goods in custody matters in practice.

How can Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers help?

Our Criminal Lawyers will carefully consider your case, advise you on all your legal options, and recommend the best way forward.

Call us now on 02 8059 7121 or contact us after hours on 0420 998 650 or text 24hrs to book an appointment with one of our solicitors.

The initial consultation is free.

40+

Years of Combined Legal Experience

1000+

Successful Cases

1000+

Years of Prison Reduced across 1000+ Satisfied Clients

What is a charge of ‘Goods in Custody?’

The charge of “goods in custody” refers to offences under s 527C of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) of having a connection with goods that are reasonably suspected of being stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained. As opposed to offences such as larceny, there is no requirement of proof beyond reasonable doubt that the goods are in fact stolen or not that the owner is not legally entitled to them. As a result, a charge of goods in custody is often relied on by prosecuting authorities as a charge of last resort where more serious theft charges cannot be laid.
Key Areas

There are a number of key points concerning offences under s 527C(1):
• There are four different offences under the subsection. Each requires a different set of factual circumstances in order to be proven. Therefore, a mislaid charge under one subsection might be unsustainable. This can be very important for statute of limitations purposes (see Case Study A - the exhaust pipes on this page).
• The first offence under s 527C(1) is goods in personal custody (s 527C(1)(a)). This has been interpreted to mean “immediate de facto control” (Ex parte McPherson (1933) 50 WN 25). What is important here is that the suspect has the goods in their custody at the time of arrest. If a person is questioned but not arrested or charged while the goods are in their custody, and they are later arrested when the goods are no longer in their custody, the charge cannot stick (R v English (1989) 44 A Crim R 273).
• For a charge under the third subsection under s 527C(1), goods in custody in or on premises (s 527C(1)(c)), there needs to be both knowledge by the person charged of the presence of the goods on the premises as well as the exercise of custody or control over it. The classic case is Filippetti (1984) 13 A Crim R 335, where the accused was charged with possession after a quantity of cannabis was discovered in a couch in the common area of a household with a number of occupants. The prosecution could not prove the exclusive physical control by the accused, so Filippetti was acquitted.
• Section 572C(2) provides a defence where the prosecution case has already been made out. If the defence can prove on the balance of probabilities that the accused had in their own mind no reasonable grounds for suspecting that the goods were stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained. For an application of this defence, see Case Study B - the Xbox below.
• Timing is everything. Under the Criminal Procedure Act s 179, the prosecution only has six months from the commission of the alleged crime to charge the suspect. Therefore, if the prosecution has laid a charge under the wrong subsection as per paragraph [1] above, they may not lay a fresh charge under a different subsection if a six months have passed. See Case Study A below.

Case Study A – the exhaust pipes

We represented a man charged with goods in custody under s 527C(1)(a), who was alleged to have stolen a pair of exhaust pipes off a truck and attached them to his own truck. The evidence of the complainant was that the exhaust pipes on his truck had gone missing, and some months later our client had attended the complainant’s work to pick up some stock. The complainant noticed our client’s truck and thought that his missing pipes were on our client’s truck. He took some photos of the truck and contacted the police. The police interviewed our client, who denied taking the pipes. Later, the police attended our client’s residence, where they saw his truck parked on the nature strip. They took some photos of the truck, but they did not see or talk to our client. Our client was arrested some days later, with the truck sight unseen.

When the case came to court, six months had already elapsed. We were firmly of the opinion that our client should have been charged under s 527C(c) if at all, that being goods in or on premises. The Court agreed and dismissed the charges. Because six months had already elapsed, the prosecution was unable to lay fresh charges, and our client could walk free, keep the pipes alleged to have been stolen, and was successful in obtaining an order for his legal costs in light of the weak prosecution case which should never have been pursued in the way that it was.

Case Study B – the Xbox

Another goods in custody case in which the defendant was successful which we had the opportunity to observe was one concerning an Xbox game console. The accused was a young ex-con who had recently come out of jail. He was accused of giving custody of a stolen Xbox to the operator of a pawn shop when he hocked it for cash (s 527C(1)(d)). He came into possession of a stolen Xbox, which he later hocked at a pawn shop. The prosecution case was made out: there was a giving of custody, and the thing was reasonably suspected of being stolen, as the prosecution evidence at the hearing proved that the Xbox which was hocked was the same Xbox as one which was reported missing from the same area some months before. However, a defence was raised that the accused had no reasonable grounds for suspecting that the goods were stolen.

The accused’s story was a bit simple, but believable enough: he had just come out of jail, he and a friend attended a garage sale, the friend out of generosity had bought him the Xbox, and after playing with it for a few months, he had decided to sell it. The prosecution tried to discredit his story by pointing out that the accused could not remember his friend’s full name (he was described as a “drug friend”), and that he could not remember the exact time or location of the garage sale (“I’m terrible with remembering details”). However, the story was believable enough on the balance of probabilities, and the accused obtained the benefit of the doubt and was acquitted.

Conclusion

Charges of goods in custody are often used by prosecuting authorities where the more traditional theft offences cannot be made out. While they might be easier to prove, there are important rules around how these offences can be charged and proven, so it is important to obtain experience legal representatives to handle any goods in custody matter.

Acknowledgment

The author wishes to acknowledge the paper “Goods in Custody – a Discussion Paper” by Mark Dennis, delivered at the NSW ALS State Conference in 3 July 2003, which has been of much assistance in the preparation of this article as well as in dealing with goods in custody matters in practice.

How can Daoud Legal:
Sydney Criminal Defence & Traffic Lawyers help?

Our criminal defence lawyers will carefully consider your 'Good in custody' case, advise you on all your legal options, and recommend the best way forward.

Call us now 1300 885 646 or text 0420 998 650 24hrs to book a free consultation with one of our lawyers.

Goods in Custody Lawyers : Defending Charges in NSW

Protecting Your Rights Against "Goods in Custody" Allegations

Our Sydney criminal defence law firm is led by a team of Accredited Criminal Law Specialists, recognised by the Law Society of New South Wales for their exceptional expertise in navigating the intricate world of criminal law. With years of experience handling a wide range of criminal matters, from traffic offences to the most serious charges, we have an in-depth understanding of the law and a proven track record of success.

At Daoud Legal: Sydney Criminal Defence & Traffic Lawyers, we have a proven track record of successfully defending clients against goods in custody allegations. Our team of skilled criminal lawyers is committed to protecting your rights and fighting to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

What is the Offence of Goods in Custody ?

As experienced criminal lawyers, we understand the intricacies of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and can provide you with comprehensive legal advice on a range of firearm and weapon offences, including:

Has any item in their custody;

Has any item in the custody of another person;

Has any item in or on premises, whether belonging to or occupied by themselves or not, or whether that item is there for their own use or the use of another; or

Gives custody of any item to a person who is not lawfully entitled to possession of that item.

Critically, for the offence to be made out, the police must also show that the item in question "may be reasonably suspected of being stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained."

Traffic Offences

The potential penalties for a goods in custody offence depend on the type of property involved :

Motor Vehicles, Motor Vehicle Parts, Vessels, or Vessel Parts :

Maximum penalty: 1 year imprisonment and/or a fine of $1,100.

All Other Items:

Maximum penalty: 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine of $550 for accused person.

However, it's important to note that the courts have a range of sentencing options available, including :

Full-time imprisonment

Intensive Correction Orders (ICOs)

Community Correction Orders (CCOs)

Fines

Conditional Release Orders (CROs)

In appropriate cases, the court may even choose to take no conviction under Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW), meaning no criminal record is recorded.

Defending Goods in Custody Charges

At Daoud Legal: Sydney Criminal Defence & Traffic Lawyers, we understand that being charged with goods in custody can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. That's why we're committed to providing you with the best possible defence strategy to protect your rights and avoid the serious consequences of a conviction.

Establishing Reasonable Doubt

To secure a conviction for goods in custody at magistrate court, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

Element #1: You had the item in your custody, in the custody of another person, in or on premises, or you gave custody of the item to someone not lawfully entitled to it.

Element #2: The item "may be reasonably suspected of being stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained.

If the prosecution fails to prove any of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you may be found not guilty of the offence.

Challenging the Factual Basis

Even if the prosecution can establish the elements of the offence, our experienced criminal defence lawyers may be able to challenge the factual basis of the charges at the local court. This could involve:

Proving that the item was not, in fact, stolen or unlawfully obtained

Demonstrating that you had a legitimate claim of right to the item

Showing that you did not have physical possession of the item, or that it was not in your custody

By casting doubt on the prosecution's case, we can work to have the charges withdrawn or downgraded to a less serious offence.

Arguing Defences

In some cases, we may be able to raise specific legal defences to the goods in custody charges, such as:

Duress: If you were compelled to act due to the threats or coercion of another person, you may have a defence of duress.

Necessity: If your actions were necessary to prevent a greater harm, you may be able to argue the defence of necessity.

No Reasonable Grounds for Suspicion: If the court is satisfied that you had no reasonable grounds for suspecting the item was stolen or unlawfully obtained, you may be found not guilty.

By carefully considering the facts of your case and the available legal defences, our team will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome, whether that's a complete dismissal of the charges or a significant reduction in the penalties.

Pleading Guilty to Goods in Custody Charges

If you decide to plead guilty to the goods in custody charges, our experienced criminal lawyers can still work to minimise the consequences you face. By presenting a compelling case on your behalf, we may be able to:

Negotiate with prosecutors to have the charges downgraded or the facts amended

Convince the court to impose a less severe penalty, such as a fine, good behaviour bond, or a Section 10 dismissal (no conviction recorded)

Demonstrate mitigating factors, such as your remorse, personal circumstances, and prospects of rehabilitation, to the court.

Pleading guilty can sometimes be the best course of action, as it can show the court your remorse and willingness to take responsibility for your actions. However, it's crucial to have an experienced criminal lawyer on your side to ensure you receive the most favourable outcome possible.

Why Choose Daoud Legal for Your Goods in Custody Charge?

At Daoud Legal: Sydney Criminal Defence & Traffic Lawyers, we have a proven track record of success in defending clients against a wide range of criminal charges, including goods in custody. Our team of highly skilled criminal defence lawyers brings a wealth of experience to every case, and we are committed to fighting tirelessly to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome.

Some of the key reasons to choose our firm for your goods in custody defence:

Extensive Experience:

Our lawyers have decades of combined experience in the field of criminal law, with a deep understanding of the legal nuances and strategies required to defend goods in custody charges.

High Success Rate:

We have a 100% success rate on the criminal and traffic offences we represent, demonstrating our ability to consistently deliver positive outcomes for our clients.

Personalised Approach:

We understand that every case is unique, and we tailor our defence strategies to your specific circumstances and needs. Our team will work closely with you to develop a comprehensive defence plan.

Convenient Locations:

With offices located in the Sydney CBD with coverage over the entire greater Sydney region, we are easily accessible to clients throughout the state.

24/7 Availability :

Our 24/7 hotline ensures that you can reach us anytime, day or night, to discuss your case and receive the legal support you need.

If you or a loved one has been charged with the offence of goods in custody, don't hesitate to contact our firm for a free consultation. Our experienced criminal defence lawyers are here to protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.

FAQs About Goods In Custody

What is the offence of "goods in custody" or "unlawful possession of property"?

The offence of "goods in custody" or "unlawful possession of property" is defined under Section 527C of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). It occurs when a person has custody of an item that may be reasonably suspected of being stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained.

What are the potential penalties for a goods in custody offence?

The potential penalties for a goods in custody offence depend on the type of property involved:

For motor vehicles, motor vehicle parts, vessels, or vessel parts, the maximum penalty is 1 year imprisonment and/or a fine of $1,100.

For all other items, the maximum penalty is 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine of $550.

However, the court has a range of sentencing options, including fines, good behaviour bonds, community service orders, and even no conviction being recorded under Section 10.

How can I defend a goods in custody charge?

There are several potential defence strategies that our experienced criminal lawyers can use to defend a goods in custody charge, including:

Challenging the prosecution's evidence and establishing reasonable doubt that the item was stolen or unlawfully obtained.

Arguing that you had a legitimate claim of right to the item or that you did not have physical custody of it.

Raising specific legal defences, such as duress or necessity, if applicable to your case.

Negotiating with prosecutors to have the charges withdrawn, downgraded, or the facts amended.

What if I want to plead guilty to the goods in custody charges?

Even if you decide to plead guilty, our experienced criminal lawyers can still work to minimise the consequences you face. We can negotiate with prosecutors, present mitigating factors to the court, and argue for a less severe penalty, such as a fine, good behaviour bond, or a Section 10 dismissal (no conviction recorded). It boils down to whether that thing in or on premises is found under your possession.

Why should I choose your firm to defend my goods in custody charges?

Our firm has a proven track record of success in defending a wide range of criminal charges, including goods in custody. We have decades of combined experience, a 100% success rate, and have won numerous industry awards. We provide a personalised approach, convenient locations, and 24/7 availability to ensure you receive the best possible legal representation.

1000+

Drug Charges Successfully Defended / Dropped

1000+

Drunk Driving Charges Successfully Defended /Dropped

500+

Successful Diversions from Prison for Mental Health Reasons

Expertise

1

Criminal Law

Our most important job is to protect your rights and provide expert legal advice. We will guide you through the entire court process.
Read More
2

Traffic Law

We will diligently gather the necessary documentation, provide you with professional legal advice, and fearlessly represent you in court.
Read More
3

Drug Offences

Drug Offences are among the most serious offences in the eyes of the Criminal Law Courts. However, the penalties associated with Drug.
Read More
4

Assault Offences

Our most important job is to protect your rights and provide expert legal advice. We will guide you through the entire court process.
Read More
5

Fraud Offences

As Fraud is often considered a pre-meditated or manipulative crime, it is looked upon very seriously by the court system.
Read More
6

Firearm Offences

There are strict rules in place governing the lawful possession of a firearm in Australia. Firstly, every person who possesses a firearm must be.
Read More

Need a Lawyer for Your Criminal Charge or Traffic Offence In Sydney?

If you’ve been charged with a criminal or traffic offence, our experienced lawyers are ready to help you 24/7.
Book a free consultation or call us now.