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Dishonestly Destroying or Damaging Property

Dishonestly Destroying or Damaging Property is an offence under Section 197 of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You destroyed or damaged property
  2. You did so dishonestly, and
  3. You intended by doing so to make a financial gain for yourself or another person

The maximum penalty increases to 9 years in prison where the destruction or damage occurred during a public disorder or 14 years where it was caused by fire or explosives or 16 years where it was during a public disorder and caused by fire or explosives.

‘Dishonesty’ is determined according to the standards of ordinary people.

The prosecution must prove you knew your conduct was dishonest according to those standards.

A ‘public disorder’ means a riot or other civil disturbance that gives rise to a serious risk to public safety whether at a single location or resulting from a series of incidents in the same or different locations.

A ‘riot’ is where 12 or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence for a common purpose and their conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for their personal safety.

Defences to the charge include:

  1. Self-defence
  2. Duress, and
  3. Necessity

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