This article is for general information only and should not be relied on for specific legal advice. The author will not be held responsible for any action that a person takes as a result of interpretation of the contents of this article. It is important to seek specific advice from a qualified and experienced lawyer for any legal problem.
What is Unlawful Taking of Shop Goods (UTAG)?
This offence in Queensland is otherwise known as ‘shoplifting.’ A person can be charged with the offence of Unlawful Taking of Shop Goods when they consume or take, alter or remove or otherwise make the shop tag indistinguishable of an item that they have not paid for.
It is essentially stealing however, if the value of the item is under $150.00, the police can opt for this offence instead. Although this offence is not as serious as stealing, it is still considered to be an offence of dishonesty and can result in criminal convictions on one’s history. Common examples of this offence include eating a packet of chips inside the grocery store without paying for them first or removing the tags from a hat before placing it on your head and attempting to walk out of the store without paying.
Laws of Unlawful Taking of Shop Goods
Section 5 of the Regulatory Offences Act (Qld) states;
1) Any person who, with respect to goods in a shop of a value of $150 or less—
(a) consumes them without the consent, express or implied, of the person in lawful possession of them; or
(b) deliberately alters, removes, defaces or otherwise renders indistinguishable a price shown on them, without the consent, express or implied, of the person in lawful possession of them; or
(c) whether or not the property in the goods has passed to the person, takes them away without discharging, or attempting honestly, or making proper arrangements, to discharge his or her lawful indebtedness therefor;
is guilty of a regulatory offence and, subject to section 9, is liable to a fine of 6 penalty units.
(1A) Without limiting subsection (1) (b) , a price may be shown on goods by a bar code or a similar device.
(2) It is a defence to a charge of an offence defined in subsection (1) (c) to prove the taking away of the goods was not dishonest.
“advantage” includes benefit.
Elements of the Offence
It is the duty of the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant has committed the offence. Every charge has a number of elements that the Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. For the charge of UTAG the Prosecution must prove;
- Defendant – The Prosecutor has to prove the identification of the offender;
- Took or Consumed; OR
altered, removed or rendered a price tag indistinguishable;
- Goods of Another;
- Without Consent;
- The value of the goods was $150.00 or less.
Maximum Penalty for Unlawful Taking of Shop Goods
The maximum penalty for this offence is 6 penalty units.
In Queensland, if a person is convicted of Unlawful Taking of Shop Goods, then the court could impose one of the following penalties:
- Jail (suspended, parole or actual time);
- Intensive Corrections Order;
- Community Service Order;
The actual penalty will depend on the circumstances of the matter including the seriousness of the offence and the individual circumstances and background of the Defendant.
There are a number of defences available to charges at law. Not every defence is available to every charge. You will need to seek specific legal advice to see if you have a defence available to you for this charge. Some of the common defences available in criminal charges are;
- Mistake of Fact;
- Public Safety;
- Self Defence or defence of another person;
Which Court will your matter be heard in?
The charge Unlawful Taking of Shop Goods will be heard in the Magistrates Court in Queensland. The charge will be heard and determined by a Magistrate alone whether you plead guilty or not guilty. There is no jury in the Magistrates Court.
What should I do if the police want to speak to me about an Unlawful Taking of Shop Goods allegation or if I am charged with Unlawful Taking of Shop Goods?
You have the right to remain silent. You DO have to provide police with your name, date of birth and contact details. You should NOT answer any questions, make any statement or participate in any interview with the police. You should be polite to the officer but insist that you want to talk to your lawyer. You have the right to telephone a friend, relative or lawyer.
Call an Expert
If you are charged with a criminal offence, it is very important that you seek immediate legal advice. Our team at Brooke Winter Solicitors can give you over-the-phone advice. We have a solid reputation as expert Criminal Lawyers and can represent you in court.