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Criminal Damage

Wheldon Law can advise you on all aspects of criminal damage.

It is an offence under Section 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 to damage or destroy property belonging to another, without reasonable excuse. For a person to be guilty of criminal damage they must cause the damage either deliberately or recklessly.

The damage does not have to be permanent and does not even have to be visible, if it affects the value or the performance of the property. An owner can damage his own property if, at the same time, it belongs to someone else (eg. a house with a mortgage).

 

Criminal Damage

It is a defence to show that a person believed the owner would consent to the damage or that a person thought the damage was necessary to protect property.

Where the value of the damage is under £5,000 the case must be heard in the magistrates court where there is a maximum sentence of 3 months imprisonment. If the value of the damage exceeds £5,000 then the case may be heard in either the magistrates court or the crown court. The maximum sentence in the magistrates court is 6 months imprisonment or 10 years in the crown court.

Racially and religiously aggravated criminal damage

This offence was created by Section 30 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1988. All the elements of the basic offence of criminal damage must be present and the offence must be motivated by hostility towards someone’s race or religion.

Threats to cause criminal damage

Section 2 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 creates two offences:

• To threaten to damage property belonging to either the person threatened or another.
• To threaten to damage your own property in a way which is likely to endanger the life of the person threatened or someone else.

These offences can be heard in either the magistrates court or the crown court and the maximum sentence in the magistrates court is 6 months imprisonment or 10 years imprisonment in the crown court.

Possessing anything with intent to destroy or damage property

Under Section 3 of the Criminal Damage Act a person is guilty of this offence if they have anything in their custody or control intending to use it, or allow another to use it, to either:

• Damage or destroy property belonging to another.
• Damage or destroy property in a manner likely to endanger life.

These offences can be heard in either the magistrates court or the crown court and the maximum sentence in the magistrates court is 6 months imprisonment or 10 years imprisonment in the crown court.

Damage caused by explosive

Usually offences involving explosives will be charged under the Explosives Act 1875 or the Explosive Substances Act 1883 however, where the damage is caused by a minor explosion and there was no intent to injure anyone or cause serious damage then a charge of criminal damage may be brought.

Arson

Under Section 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 an offence of arson is committed where a person without lawful authority, destroys or damages property belonging to another and the damage is caused by fire. It is a defence if it is believed the owner of the property would have consented to the damage or believed the damage was necessary to protect property.

Cases of arson can be tried in either the magistrates court or the crown court. The maximum sentence in the magistrates court is 6 months imprisonment or life imprisonment in the crown court.

Arson/damaging property with the intent to endanger life

It is an offence to destroy or damage property intending to endanger the life of another, or being reckless as to whether a person’s life is put in danger. These cases can only be tried in the crown court and the maximum sentence is one of life imprisonment.

Call us on 01442 242999 for a free initial consultation.