‘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.
Your Options in Court
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:
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 10 dismissals and conditional release orders‘ 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 Dismissal
- Conditional Release Order
- Community Correction Order
- Intensive Correction Order
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.
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.
Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with.
Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:
- Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results
Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases. Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial. Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.
We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.
We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.
Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.
- Highest Level of Client Satisfaction
We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia. Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities. We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.
We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.
- Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law Firm
We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running. The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.
- Fixed Fees
We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004. We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.
Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.
Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.
- Free First Appointment
For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers. We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.
- Specialist Lawyer Guarantee
We guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court. This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.
- All NSW Courts
From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases. And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.
- Accredited Specialists
Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists. All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005. An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field. Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.
Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.
- Results-Focused Law Firm
Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet. The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’. Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.
No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.
The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.
- Team of Lawyers Behind You
Our clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide. Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes. A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.
In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.
- Familiar with Magistrates and Judges
Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state. Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.
We have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:
- the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
- Liverpool, directly opposite Liverpool Local Court, and
- Parramatta, near the justice precinct.
We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD and Liverpool locations, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.
For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.
If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.