Criminal Damage Lawyer
We have recently noticed an increase in the number of criminal damage matters coming through our office. Mainly, we believe that this is related to the increase in family violence related charges and prosecutions which are progressing through the courts. Many clients are charged with criminal damage relating to their own property. Often restitution and compensation is sought for the damage.
If you have been charged with criminal damage, it is essential to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal damage lawyer. Criminal damage is a serious crime that can result in severe legal consequences, including hefty fines and even imprisonment. A criminal damage lawyer can help you understand your legal rights, build a strong defense, and minimise the impact of the charges on your life.
The Role of a Criminal Damage Lawyer
Our criminal damage lawyers are well-versed in criminal law and have the expertise to navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system. We work closely with our clients to investigate the circumstances of the alleged offense and develop a robust legal strategy to help protect your interests.
Whether you are facing charges of vandalism, arson, or any other type of criminal damage, our team can help you achieve the best possible outcome. We are committed to providing you with legal guidance every step of the way, while advocating for your rights and interests, and working tirelessly to achieve a favourable outcome.
If you are facing charges of criminal damage, do not hesitate to contact us. With our guidance and expertise, you can rest assured that you are in capable hands and that your legal rights will be protected.
What is Criminal Damage?
Criminal damage is described in the Crimes Act 1958 as destroying or damaging property, and is covered by section 197 of the Act. The offence is made out where a person intentionally and without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another or him/herself. This surprises most people, as it is assumed that if the property belongs to you, you may deal with it as you see fit.
However, we have noticed in recent times that most criminal damage matters relate to property actually owned by the person, with the offence detected when Police arrive in the context of a domestic dispute. For example, breaking a door or table or mirror in the course of an argument, even if there was no violence directly against another person.
In circumstances where the property is destroyed by fire, it is considered arson and the penalties are more severe. Criminal damage currently carries a 10 year maximum sentence and arson carries a 15 year maximum sentence. Most criminal damage matters proceed through the Magistrates’ Court, attracting much lower penalties than would otherwise be available, unless the value of the property is significant or there are other more serious charges that must be dealt with in the higher jurisdictions. Even in the higher jurisdictions, it is often the case that a matter can be negotiated so that charges are withdrawn, thus increasing the prospect of a lower penalty and avoidance of prison time.
It is also common for the Police to instigate intervention order proceedings on behalf of a person they believe requires protection, in circumstances where there are family violence connotations to the alleged offence.
The Possible Defences that a Criminal Damage Lawyer May Use
In order to secure a conviction for property destruction or damage, the prosecution needs to establish the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:
- The accused caused damage to or destruction of property;
- They did so intentionally;
- They didn’t have a lawful excuse for doing so;
- The property in question belonged to someone else or was jointly owned by the accused and another person.
There are a range of possible defenses that we will explore that can be raised against a charge of property damage, include the following:
- Lawful excuse: Damaging property with the permission of the owner is not an offense.
- Lack of intent: Property damage caused by accident is not considered an offense. The offense only applies when the damage is caused intentionally or recklessly.
- Emergency: In situations where there is a sudden and extraordinary emergency, destroying property is not an offense. An example of this would be tearing up someone’s clothing to bandage the wound of a seriously injured person.
If found guilty of Criminal Damage, do I have to pay for it?
Often, the Court will make a restitution order which forces the offender to pay for the damage they have caused. However, that isn’t just the end of it. Sometimes, the order will be in excess of the actual damage. Your criminal defence lawyer needs to scrutinise the quotes and reports provided to make sure that any restitution actually matches the damage done. Having been found guilty of criminal damage, you want to avoid having to pay more in compensation than is actually required. If you are in this situation, speaking with one of our lawyers may put your mind at ease.
How Galbally Parker Criminal Damage Lawyers Can Help
If you have been charged with criminal damage offences, or are being investigated for criminal damage, please contact our office to discuss your matter. We can review your case, explain the charges, and develop a defense strategy to fight the charges, and advise you on your rights and how to navigate the investigation without incriminating yourself.