Criminal Damage is committed when a person destroys or damages property belonging to another person without lawful excuse. The damage caused does not have to be permanent; as long as the damage affects the value or performance of the property that is sufficient.
Examples of criminal damage in the simplest form are below:
- Breaking a chair belonging to your parents during an argument
- Smearing mud on the walls of a police cell.
In addition to the above, criminal damage can also be committed recklessly. To commit an offence recklessly, you do not have to have an intention to cause the damage but you were aware that there was a risk of the damage being caused OR it was reasonably foreseeable that the damage could be caused. An example of this would be kicking a ball against the wall which misses and then smashes a window. There is a fine line sometimes between what someone may have done recklessly as opposed to accidentally.
You may have a defence to an allegation of criminal damage if one of the following circumstances applies:
- You did not destroy or damage the property
- You are the owner of the property
- You have a reasonable belief that the owner of the property would have consented to you destroying or damaging the property; or
- You caused the damage to protect life, prevent injury or stop unlawful imprisonment of a person
Every case is different and the availability of a defence can only be considered on the merits of an individual case, which is why bespoke and expert advice is always required.
This offence can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court and the decision as to what Court your case will be heard in depends on the value of the damage caused.
Nb. This guide is intended to give general information only and not intended to be used as the basis upon which Advice is given nor should it be relied upon as giving advice specific to a case or individual and Lawtons do not accept liability for anyone using this guide. Should you require specific advice in connection with a real case or situation, please contact us immediately so that we can provide specific Advice