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Shoplifting, not paying and property damage

Some minor offences are known as ‘regulatory offences’.

There are 3 types of regulatory offences:

  1. Unauthorised dealing with shop goods (where the value of the goods is $150 or less).
  2. Leaving restaurants or hotels without paying for food, drink, accommodation, goods or services (where the value is $150 or less).
  3. Unauthorised damage to property (where the damage is $250 or less).

If you’re charged with a regulatory offence, get legal advice.

Regulatory offences

Regulatory offences are minor offences where the value of the property damaged or the goods taken is less than a certain amount.

There are 3 types of regulatory offences:

  1. Unauthorised dealing with shop goods where the value is $150 or less. Includes:
    • shoplifting
    • eating or drinking something in a shop without paying
    • changing price tags (eg by swapping them)
    • removing price tags
    • crossing out the price.
  2. Leaving restaurants or hotels without paying for food, drink, accommodation, or goods and services where the value is $150 or less. Includes:
    • leaving without paying
    • using bad cheques
    • unauthorised use of a credit card.
  3. Unauthorised damage to property where the cost is $250 or less.

The Magistrates Court deals with regulatory offences, you can't choose to go to a higher court. As they’re minor offences you can’t be sent to jail.

If you’re convicted of regulatory offence, it will be part of your criminal history. You can ask for the conviction not to be recorded (see criminal convictions). Get legal advice.

For more serious offences, the police may charge you with:

  • stealing instead of shoplifting
  • fraud instead of leaving without paying
  • wilful damage instead of unauthorised damage to property.

The penalties for these types of offences may be more serious. Get legal advice.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if you’ve been charged with an offence and are going to court.

How to get legal advice

We may give legal advice about shoplifting, not paying for goods, and property damage.

These organisations may also give you legal advice:

Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to find out if they can help.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation.

Important: 
If you’re charged with an offence, you should ask police prosecutions for a copy of your Queensland Police form 9 (QP9) — this is a written summary of the police version of why you were charged and what happened. You should get your QP9 before getting legal advice.  You can get your QP9 from the police prosecutor on your first court date (the duty lawyer may be able to help you). If you can’t collect it on your first court date you’ll need to apply to police prosecutions for a copy. You’ll need to make a written request and show photo ID.

Who else can help?

These organisations may be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.

Queensland Courts provides information about the:

  • Supreme Court
  • Court of Appeal
  • District Court
  • Magistrates Court
  • Coroners Court
  • Childrens Court of Queensland
  • Land Court.
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