At JD Solicitors, we understand the gravity of criminal damage and its legal implications. Whether you are facing charges or seeking advice on this matter, our experienced team of lawyers is dedicated to providing you with the highest level of legal representation.
We recognise that criminal damage cases involve a wide range of scenarios, from vandalism to arson, and we are well-versed in the complexities of such offences. With our deep understanding of criminal law and proven track record of success, we are here to protect your rights, navigate the legal process, and strive for the best possible outcome in your criminal damage case.
A criminal damage offence under the 1971 Criminal Damage Act is one that destroys or damages property.
For a defendant to be convicted of criminal damage the prosecution must show that they meet the following criteria:
This relates only to the damage done to physical property, including land and includes physical harm and impairment of value or usefulness, both permanently or temporarily.
The property that has been damaged must belong to another person, and not the person doing the damage. Although joint ownership of property would also count in this case as long as the Director of Public Prosecutions approves it.
Mens rea or guilty mindset comes into place concerning criminal damage. That is the defendant has to know that a risk of property damage would occur from their actions.
For His Or Her ActionsFor example, a defendant may believe that they have permission to damage property from a person entitled to give it. In this case, Section 5 of the Criminal Damage Act states that if they can prove this they can use it as a defence.
In addition to criminal damage, there is another more serious offence that is covered by the Criminal Damage Act. This is known as aggravated criminal damage. To be convicted of aggravated criminal damage a defendant would need to meet all four criteria above as well as one additional criterion:
The sentencing for criminal damage offences depends on a variety of factors. For instance, aggravated criminal damage is a serious and indictable offence. This means it can only be heard in the Crown Court, and that the punishment is more severe. The maximum prison term for this charge is life.
The sentences metered out for those found guilty of criminal damage will depend on whether the case is heard in the Crown Court or Magistrates Court. To establish this the cost of the damage caused will be assessed. If it’s over £5000 then the court will be heard in the Crown Court, but if it’s below it can be heard summarily in the Magistrates Court.
For criminal damage cases heard in the Crown Court, Section 4 of the Criminal Damages Act states that the maximum sentence is 10 years in prison. However, for cases where the damage is established to be less than £5000 the maximum prison term is 3 months, or a fine of £2500.