Communtity Law Manual | Common crimes

Common crimes

Some common minor offences, and the defences and penalties that apply

What this chapter covers

This chapter has information about some common minor offences that people face in the criminal courts, particularly when facing charges for the first time. These include:

  • shoplifting
  • tagging and graffiti
  • assault
  • drug offences, like possession of cannabis
  • pāua poaching and other fisheries offences.

For information about driving offences, go to the chapter, “Driving and traffic law”.

For each of those areas, the chapter has information like:

  • what the prosecution has to prove to get a conviction
  • what defences you might have to the charge
  • what the possible penalties are, including what you’re likely to get for a first offence.

This chapter cites a number of New Zealand court decisions as legal authority for the law as we’ve stated it. Sometimes we’ve also set out the facts and outcome of particular cases as examples. (For more information about how to find these cases, see “Other resources / How to find the cases we’ve cited in this chapter” at the end of this chapter.)

For information about how the criminal courts work, see the chapter “The criminal courts”, and for information about what legal advice you can get if you can’t afford to pay a lawyer, see the chapter “Legal aid”.

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