Malicious damage to property
There are a number of different offences in NSW that relate to property damage. The most common offence can be found in section 195 of the Crimes Act.
According to the Act, a person who intentionally or recklessly destroys or damages another person’s property may be guilty of an offence.
What is property?
A definition of ‘property’ can be found in section 4 of the Crimes Act.
According to the definition, ‘property’ includes:
- Every description of real and personal property;
- Money, valuable securities, debts, and legacies;
The standard maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years imprisonment; however, the maximum penalty may increase depending on the circumstances in which the offence was committed. For example, if the damage is caused by a fire or explosives to the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment. Similarly, if the offence occurs during a ‘public disorder’ (such as a riot) the maximum penalty increases to 7 years (normally) or 12 years (if the damage is caused by explosives AND the offence occurs during a public disorder).
How can I defend myself?
You cannot be convicted of this offence unless the police can prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:
- You destroyed or damaged property
- The property belonged to another person
- The destruction or damage was done intentionally or recklessly.
This offence can sometimes be difficult to prove, especially if there are no witnesses present when the damage is alleged to have occurred.
If you have been charged with this offence it is vital to seek legal advice from an experienced criminal lawyer.