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    Property Damage

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      Best Intentionally or Recklessly Destroy or Damage Property Lawyers

      Our destroy or damage property lawyers are well-versed in defending such charges. We have an outstanding track record of helping our clients prove their innocence and avoid criminal convictions.

      You can view some of our recent cases for these charges by clicking here.

      Contact us now to speak to our accredited specialist criminal lawyer to see how we can best assist you.

      Property damage

      The charge of destroying or damaging property is commonly known as ‘malicious damage’ and it involves destroying or damaging property either intentionally or recklessly.

      Usually the property is owned by someone else but you can also be convicted if you destroy or damage property that you jointly own with someone else.

      The definition of destroying or damaging may seem obvious but it can also include what is known as “temporary functional derangement”. This means that the function or usefulness of an object has been interfered with. It may not be “damaged” in the usual sense but the object cannot do what it is meant to do because of some interference.

      Common examples are letting the air out of someone’s tyres or urinating in a police cell so that it cannot be used.

      To prove the offence of destroy or damage property the prosecution must prove that the defendant, recklessly or intentionally, destroyed or damaged property belonging to either another person or the defendant and another person.

      The penalties for this offence in the Local Court are up to 2 years imprisonment and fines of up to $11,000. The penalties are significantly higher if the matter is heard in the District Court or if the damage involves fire or explosives, or is committed during a public order incident or with the intent to injure someone.

      If you are under investigation or have been arrested or charged for destroying or damaging property you should contact us for expert advice immediately. At Astor Legal we are former prosecutors and we have prosecuted countless destroying or damaging property charges. We know the law, the cases, and the defences to destroying or damaging property charges. Your first consultation is free and we offer fixed fees for most of our services.

      WHAT SHOULD I DO?

      • PLEADING NOT GUILTY

        What is Destroy or Damage Property?

        Section 195 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) sets out that if you intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage the property of another person, you can be guilty of this offence. The offence is also known as ‘malicious damage to property’.

        This is a ‘Table 2’ offence under the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW). As such, it is finalised in the Local Court unless the prosecution elects to deal with it in the District Court.

        It is rare for a damage property charge to be heard in the District Court unless there are associated serious charges being heard in the District Court.

        How do you beat a Destroy or Damage Property?

        You can fight a destroy or damage property charge in two ways. Firstly, the prosecution must prove each of the following beyond reasonable doubt:

        1. You intentionally or recklessly damaged property; and
        2. That property belonged to another person; or
        3. You owned it jointly with another person and they did not consent to you destroying or damaging property

        If any of these elements are not made out, then you can be found ‘not guilty’.

        Secondly, you can rely on one of the defences.

        What is malicious damage to property?

        In order to establish damage, the prosecution must prove that the physical integrity of the property was altered in some way. This includes if the alteration is temporary (Grajewski v Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW) [2019] HCA 8).

        However, if there is no alteration to the physical integrity of the property, then there is no offence. For example, spitting on a metal seat would generally not be considered damage (Hammond v R [2013] NSWCCA 93).

        Contact us now to speak to a specialist criminal lawyer who can begin preparing your defence.

        What are the Defences to ‘destroy or damage property’?

        The following are a number of defences which can be raised:

        1. Claim of right: You genuinely believed you were entitled to the property
        2. Causation: The prosecution cannot prove that you caused the property to be destroyed or damaged.
        3. Identification: the prosecution cannot prove that you were responsible for the destruction or damage
        4. Intent: The prosecution cannot prove that you had the intention, or that you were reckless in destroying or damaging the property
        5. Duress: You were forced to destroy or damage the property
        6. Necessity: Your damage to, or destruction of,

        Our team’s specialty is getting charges dropped early saving you money and time. If any of the above defences apply to you, our senior lawyers will analyse the evidence, strengthen your defence, and begin negotiations with police to get your charge dropped early. They have been successful at achieving this for over 20 years on countless cases they take on.

      • PLEADING GUILTY

        If you are pleading guilty to a charge of destroying or damaging property, you can consult our guide. You can obtain a tailored approach to your case by contacting us now to speak to a specialist criminal lawyer who can prepare your case and appear for you in Court.

        What is the penalty for Destroy or Damage Property?

        There are number of different variations and degrees of severity for property damage offences.

        If heard in the District Court, the maximum penalty for Destroy or damage property is a term of imprisonment of 5 years. If the offence was committed while in the company of another person, the maximum penalty becomes 6 years imprisonment.

        If heard in the Local Court and:

        1. the value of the property damaged is less than $5000, the maximum penalty is 12 months imprisonment and/or a fine of $5,500. Where the value is less than $2000, the maximum fine is up to $2,200;
        2. the value of the property damaged is more than $5000, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment.

        If heard in the District Court and the damage or destruction is caused by fire or explosives, the maximum penalty is increased to 10 years imprisonment. If the offence was committed while in the company of another person, the maximum penalty becomes 11 years imprisonment.

        What are the Possible Sentences for destroying or damaging property?

        • Section 10 dismissal
        • Conditional release order without conviction (previously known as Section 10 good behaviour bond)
        • Fine
        • Conditional release order with conviction (previously known as Section 9 good behaviour bond)
        • Community Corrections Order (previously known as Community Service Order)
        • Intensive Corrections Order
        • Home Detention Order (no longer used in NSW)
        • Full Time Imprisonment

        Will you go to jail for damaging property?

        Of the 255 cases heard in the Local Court over the last 5 years, less than 25% of people received no conviction for a destroy or damage property charge. 6% of people were sentenced to some form of imprisonment. The remaining offenders all received convictions.

        Over 75% of offenders are convicted. A Section 10 dismissal is not easy to achieve. As such, if you wish to avoid a conviction, you should speak to one of our specialist criminal defence solicitors for destroy or damage property charges.

      FAQ

      Is property damage a criminal offence?

      Yes. Section 195 of the Crimes Act 1900 sets out the offence of destroying or damaging property.

      Can I be guilty of damaging my own property?

      If you jointly owned the property with another person then you can be found guilty of malicious damage.

      However, if you are the sole owner of property, then you cannot be found guilty of destroying or damaging it.

      Much will depend on whether you can prove you are the sole owner. Receipts and bank statements are often used in Court to prove that you own the property outright.

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