There are a couple of criminal offences in Queensland that fall into a broad category of being a ‘property offence’. Here we explore some of the types of property offences and what options you may have available to you if you have either committed or suffered from a property offence.
Burglary and arson are types of property offences in Queensland that carry quite serious penalties. Before going any further it’s important to note that the seriousness of these offences means that seeking advice from a lawyer is crucial if you have been involved with a property offence, as penalties can be severe and result in imprisonment.
Burglary is entering the dwelling of another person with the intent to commit a crime. Burglary is different from simply trespassing on property as there must be an intention to commit a crime while you are on the premises. It is a serious offence that can carry a penalty of imprisonment for up to 14 years, although depending on the nature of the offence penalties can range from community service to fines and probation. There is a slight definitional distinction between burglary and between ‘entering a premises with the intent to commit a crime’ as burglary is only applicable to dwellings that are residential in nature.
Aggravated burglary follows the same definition as normal burglary but has some other components that need to be present and is a much more serious crime. The Queensland Criminal Code (Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld.)) sets out the conditions that need to be met to turn burglary into an aggravated case as the following:
– The offence is committed in the night; or,
– The offender:
- uses or threatens to use actual violence; or
- is or pretends to be armed with a dangerous or offensive weapon, instrument or noxious substance; or
- is in company with 1 or more persons; or
- damages, or threatens or attempts to damage, any property.
If the above conditions are met, it is the case that someone convicted of aggravated burglary is liable to be imprisoned for life. This is a serious offence because unlawfully entering your neighbours’ house at night and damaging their property in relation to a disagreement you might have could be sufficient grounds for aggravated burglary and a consequential punishing sentence.
Another serious property offence is arson, with a maximum possible penalty of life imprisonment. The seriousness of the offence means that courts will typically refer to imprisonment as an immediate punishment, although there are a range of other possible penalties.
The Queensland Criminal Code lists some wide encompassing conditions on what arson constitutes, specifically:
Any person who willfully and unlawfully sets fire to any of the things following, that is to say—
- a building or structure;
- a motor vehicle, train, aircraft or vessel;
- any stack of cultivated vegetable produce, or of mineral or vegetable fuel;
- a mine, or the workings, fittings, or appliances of a mine.
Even if a property or car is unoccupied or in disrepair, setting fire to it will still be arson.