Last updated 29 August 2016

Section 408A of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) (Criminal Code) provides an offence for unlawfully using or possessing a motor vehicle, aircraft or vessel. It is a requirement that such acts occur without the consent of the person in lawful possession thereof, and that there was an intention to deprive the owner of the use and possession either temporarily or permanently.

The person in lawful possession may not be the owner of the vehicle. It may refer to a person who has had a vehicle lent to them by an owner. It includes persons who hire vehicles or persons who are minding a vehicle on behalf of another.

‘Motor vehicle’ and ‘aircraft’ are defined in s 1 of the Criminal Code. ‘Vessel’ is defined in s 408A(3).

Penalty for unlawful possession of a motor vehicle

The offence of the unlawful use or possession of a motor vehicle carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment. There are a number of circumstances of aggravation contained within the legislation. If the vehicle is used or intended to be used in the commission of an indictable offence, the maximum penalty is increased to 10 years imprisonment. However, if the vehicle or the mechanism of the vehicle is destroyed or intended to be destroyed, the maximum penalty is increased to 12 years imprisonment (s 408A Criminal Code).

Appropriate court

An offence against this section is an indictable offence that ordinarily must be dealt with summarily in the Magistrates Court. In certain circumstances, it will have to be committed for finalisation to the District Court of Queensland (ss 552BA, 552BB Criminal Code). This usually occurs where a magistrate is of the view that they cannot adequately deal with the matter (s 552D Criminal Code) or where the restitution or detriment incurred exceeds $30 000.