Damaging property that belongs to another person is a serious criminal offence. A penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment may be applicable if you are found guilty of this offence. Depending on the individual circumstances of the case, a valid defence may exist. If you are charged with one of these offences, it is important that you know where you stand. Our experienced criminal lawyers can advise you on the strength of your position and guide you through the legal process to arrive at the best possible outcome.
What are the applicable penalties?
A person who is found guilty of this offence may face up to 5 years imprisonment.
What must the Prosecution prove?
To convict you of malicious damage to property, the Prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You destroyed or damaged property;
- The property belonged to another person, or the accused and another person;
- The destruction or damage was done maliciously, with intent or recklessness.
The Prosecution will also need to prove that you were the person who committed the malicious damage to property offence.
What does it mean to “destroy” or “damage” property?
Destroying something means to make it completely useless. It is often harder to prove that something has been destroyed rather than damaged.
The definition of damage is not easy to pin down. It is important to note that damage is not limited to physical damage only. Over time, the Courts have interpreted the word damage in several ways. Here are a few examples of behaviour that may count as criminal damage:
- Punching someone’s letterbox
- Graffiti tagging a wall;
- Temporarily denting someone’s phone case;
- Removing parts from a machine, without physically damaging it;
- Adding a modification onto a car which negatively affects its operation;
- Puncturing someone’s car tyre;
- Spitting on someone’s fine dress.
Courts have ruled that damage can take the form of interfering with something’s functionality. So, if you do something that causes something to work other than the way it normally should, it could be criminally damaged. Courts have also ruled that if a property’s value or usefulness is impaired, then this can be enough to count as damage.
This is an area that is open to argument and interpretation. It is always best to get the opinion of an experienced lawyer. This will ensure that you do not plead guilty to something which may not actually fall under the definition of criminal damage.
What defences are available?
The following defences may be available depending on the circumstances of your case:
- That the offence was an accident;
- That your act was not voluntary;
- That you had a claim of right over the property;
- That you were affected by a mental illness;
- That you committed the offence out of necessity;
- That you committed the offence under duress;
- That you acted in self-defence.
We are here to help
These cases are rarely straightforward and require close analysis by an experienced legal practitioner. Without legal assistance, you may incur a fine and/or conviction for an offence which is excessive. It is always best to consult a solicitor so that criminal liability can be appropriately assessed, and all the options available to you explored.
Your lawyer will guide you through the Court process and work with you to mitigate the severity of any possible sentence. If a Conditional Release Order with no conviction is not appropriate, your lawyer will endeavour to put your most favourable case forward to ensure that any fines are minimised, and any potential jail term avoided.
Your legal matter is important. Contact Fourtree Criminal Lawyers on 1300 529 444 to prepare your legal defence now.
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“Kevin and Jane were my “knights in shining armour.” I can’t thank these two people enough. They gave their everything and most important believed me when I told them my story. I am forever grateful for their professional attitude and for giving 100% to free me from my nightmare. I was able to plead guilty but also most importantly was not forced to lie and compromise my integrity and own personal values and standards. I was very happy with the outcome and the way I was treated. They communicated constantly...
Had the most amazing experience with Fourtree Lawyers kevin vierboom who represented my partner was helpful and understanding and we got a great result better then expected ? jane hogan, I was so blessed to have her by my side. They are an amazing team and i would recommend them to everyone also great value for money. Especially considering i only called the morning of the court case and they were all over it at my bek and call thankyou so much guys im so appreciative for all your help today
I was lucky enough to have Kevin take my case and am truly grateful for the services he and his team provided. From the outset, I was made to feel comfortable and knew from the first time meeting with them that they would go above and beyond to get the best possible outcome and that is exactly what they did. Fourtree Lawyers provides exceptional service with outstanding results and I would recommend Kevin to anyone and everyone who is in need of these services.
12-month CRO – no conviction | Destroy or damage property in company (>$5000) | Gosford Local Court
Our client is a 21-year-old male who lives on the Central Coast. He works full-time as a labourer and at night works as a delivery driver for a local restaurant.
Our client was celebrating a friend’s birthday in Terrigal with a group and they had all consumed a lot of alcohol. The group thought it would be a good idea to jump onto a brand new marked Police car. Nearby Police came over to inspect the parked patrol car as several people were crowded around it. Our client was questioned and initially denied any involvement. Following further investigations, Police matched our client with CCTV footage depicting two people running over the car. Our client made full admissions and was charged with destroy/damage property in company.
Principal Solicitor Kevin Vierboom made submissions on behalf of our client. Emphasis was made on our client requiring a clean record, as he was studying to become a lawyer. The Magistrate considered our client’s character references and his willingness to make reparation for damage caused to the car. Our client was sentenced to 12-month Conditional Release Order without conviction.
Our client avoided a criminal record which would have been an obstacle when applying for admission as a lawyer.
12-month CRO – no conviction | Intentionally destroy or damage property | Gosford Local Court
Our client is an 18-year-old male who lives in the Central Coast with his mother and 3 siblings. He is a recent year 12 graduate and plans to study at university in 2019.
Our client’s grandfather had offered our client his holiday house to celebrate his 18th birthday and completion of HSC studies. During the celebrations a window was shattered with a snooker ball and other furniture was damaged. Our client’s grandfather was alerted and he called the Police immediately.
Police arrested our client and charged him with destroying or damaging property, the penalty for which is 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $2,200.
A plea of guilty was entered at Gosford Local Court. Solicitor Denise McCarthy made submissions in mitigation of his sentence. The Magistrate accounted for our client’s young age and the effect a criminal record would have on his future employment. The Magistrate ordered that our client enters into a 12-month Conditional Release Order with no conviction.
Our client and his family were very pleased with the outcome and grateful to have avoided a criminal record at such a young age.
Charges Withdrawn | Common assault, destroy or damage property and stalk/intimidate | Gosford Local Court
Our client is a 38-year-old male who lives with his wife on the Central Coast. While traveling back from dinner in Sydney, our client and his wife had a disagreement and our client was charged with common assault, destroy or damage property and stalk/intimidate fear physical harm. The maximum penalties for these offences include a 2-year term of imprisonment and a $5,500 fine.
Our client's instructions were to plead not guilty to the charges. Principal solicitor Kevin Vierboom represented our client in a defended hearing.
After negotiations with the Police Prosecutor, it was agreed to withdraw the charges. Our client was relieved to have the charges withdrawn and have no conviction on his record.