‘Destroy or damage property’ offences are some of the most commonly prosecuted offences in our courts.
Although they may often seem trivial, they have the potential to result in a criminal record, which can potentially damage your reputation and career.
However, our expert criminal defence team can give you the advice and representation you need when it comes to getting the best outcome in your case.
We have won countless ‘destroy or damage property’ matters and consistently achieve better results than any other law firm – so you can rest assured that your future is in safe hands.
Pleading Not Guilty
Before you can be found guilty of destroying or damaging property, the prosecution must prove that:
- You damaged or destroyed property
- The property belonged to another person
- You intended to cause the damage or destruction, or you were reckless as to whether the damage or destruction could have been caused.
If you feel that any of these elements cannot be made out, then you may choose to plead ‘not guilty’ and allow our highly experienced lawyers to defend your matter in court.
Our criminal law experts frequently appear in these matters and often get charges dropped at an early stage by raising problems with the prosecution evidence – for example, where there is not enough evidence to prove that you were responsible for the damage done to the property.
Should the prosecution refuse to drop the charges, we will fight hard to secure a verdict of ‘not guilty’ by raising any defences to the charges, for example:
- Where you were coerced or threatened into causing the damage (duress)
- Where you damaged property in the course of defending yourself, another person, or your property (self-defence)
- Where the damage or destruction was necessary to prevent serious injury or danger (necessity)
If you do not want to fight the charges, you may choose to plead guilty as soon as possible.
By pleading guilty at an early stage in the proceedings, you may end up with a lighter penalty. This is because the court will take the fact that you have accepted responsibility for your actions into account.
Before you plead guilty to any offence, it is important to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer who will be able to advise whether you have a defence to the charges. If this is the case, you may be able to avoid a conviction altogether.
If you are considering pleading guilty, it is important to be aware of the maximum penalties for this offence.
The maximum penalties depend largely upon the circumstances of the offence:
|S 195(1)(a)||Intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage property||5 years imprisonment|
|S 195(1)(b)||Intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage property using fire or explosives||10 years imprisonment|
|S 195(1A)(a)||Intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage property in company (with another person)||6 years imprisonment|
|S 195(1A)(b)||Intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage property using fire or explosives in company (with another person)||11 years imprisonment|
|S 195(2)(a)||Intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage property during a public disorder (such as a riot).||7 years imprisonment|
|S 195(2)(b)||Intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage property using fire or explosives during a public disorder.||12 years imprisonment|
However, these penalties are maximum penalties only, meaning that they will only apply in the most serious cases.
Our highly skilled advocates will work hard to ensure that you avoid these harsh penalties by presenting your case in the most positive light and persuading the magistrate to deal with the matter lightly.
In many cases, we are able to secure ‘section 10s’ for clients following a guilty plea – which is where you are found guilty of the offence but no conviction is recorded on your criminal record.
This is obviously a fantastic outcome if you are worried about how having a criminal record will affect your employment and travel prospects.
The court has the power to impose a wide range of penalties, including:
- Section 10
- Good behaviour bond
- Community service order
- Intensive correction order
- Home detention
- Suspended sentence
- Full-time imprisonment
You can increase your chances of getting a favourable outcome in your case by enlisting the help of our experienced criminal defence lawyers, who will thoroughly examine all the evidence to reduce the severity of your penalty.
Further, our experts will push for the matter to be dealt with in the Local Court, where the maximum penalty for this offence is 2 years imprisonment, and/or a fine.
Being charged with destroying or damaging property can negatively impact your life, particularly as it has the potential to result in a criminal record, which may adversely affect your work and travel plans.
However, with the help of the expert defence team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers, you can fight the charges to ensure that you get the best possible outcome in your case.
We have successfully defended clients in numerous destroy or damage property cases, and we pride ourselves on our unparalleled ability to secure a positive outcome in these types of cases.
Our excellent lawyers thoroughly examine all the evidence in each case and strive to have charges dropped before the matter goes to court; for example, by writing to police and explaining that the damage was caused accidently.
If your matter goes to court, you will be guaranteed the best possible representation by our experienced lawyers, who will raise any possible defences and fight hard to ensure that you get a lenient penalty.
So call us now on (02) 9261 8881 and get the experts on your side.
If you’ve been charged with recklessly or intentionally destroying or damaging property, you may want to equip yourself with as much information as possible so that you can better understand how the charges could affect your life.
We have included some additional information below that may assist.
What does the prosecution need to prove?
The prosecution must prove three things before you are found guilty of intentionally or recklessly destroying or damaging property:
1. That you damaged or destroyed property
‘Damage’ refers to the physical derangement or property. Damage does not have to be permanent or lasting – for example, deflating car tyres, putting up a barricade around a property, removing or deleting computer data. It also includes permanent forms of damage such as breaking an object, vandalising property and so on.
2. The property belonged to another person
The property must be shown to belong to someone other than yourself – however, you may still be charged with destroying or damaging property where you were a co-owner of the property.
3. You intended to cause the damage or destruction, or you were reckless as to whether the damage or destruction could have been caused
It must be shown that you intended to cause the damage, or that you were reckless as to whether the damage or destruction would have been caused.
This means that you should have had the foresight to realise that your actions would have resulted in the destruction or damage caused.
You may be able to avoid a penalty where you present evidence to show that your actions were a mistake or accident – for example, where you accidently step on someone’s phone, or where you accidently delete files off a computer.
What penalties will I face?
Although the law prescribes lengthy terms of imprisonment for destroy or damage property offences, it is important to remember that these will only apply in the most serious cases. The courts will only ever use imprisonment as a last resort.
The type of penalty that you will receive will ultimately depend on the facts and circumstances of your case – including the extent of damage or destruction caused and the value of the property in question. The court may also consider other factors, such as whether you have a criminal record, and whether you will reoffend.
The maximum penalty will also depend on which court you are dealt with – in the Local Court, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and a fine.
Statistics indicate that the most common penalty for destroy or damage property is a fine (39.9% of cases), with the average fine being $400. The second most common penalty is a s 9 good behaviour bond.
A s 9 bond means that the court will require you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time (in other words, you will not be able to commit any further offences). They may also impose additional conditions upon you – for example, you may be prohibited from entering a particular area.