Being accused of any crime is a stressful experience, and Lawtons Solicitors is on hand to help you, providing 24 hour assistance for emergencies and effective representation should your case be sent to court.
Vandalism covers a wide category of criminal offences, all associated with intentional or reckless damage to property, structure or contents. It often involves youths under the age of 17 and a variety of different circumstances, meaning charges are not as straightforward as in some other cases.
It is really important that you seek the advice of a specialist vandalism solicitor, who will help you break down your individual case and represent you in the best way possible to achieve a favourable outcome.
Vandalism & The Law
Vandalism is a term used to describe destruction or criminal damage to persons’ property, for example smashing the windows of someone’s car. Some criminal damage offences are still covered by the Malicious Damage Act 1861, the Criminal Damage Act 1971 is the primary legislation for the criminal offence of vandalism or criminal damage.
Graffiti is often considered a form of vandalism, but as an art form it can be considered extremely valuable. If permission is given by the property owner, graffiti is an art form and considered to be legal.
Law that relates to vandalism highlights several factors that must be present for a case to be heard in court. These are as follows:
- Property, structure or contents belongs to somebody else
- That there was clear intention or reckless behaviour that lead to the defacing or damage to property, structure or contents
- Any damage that has occurred was undertaken without consent
If any of these elements are missing, it may be possible for your solicitor to argue that the damage was not caused unlawfully or indeed wilfully.
It is worth noting that the law does not define the actual definition of damage caused and magistrates can only judge this on the available facts of the case.
There are also likely to be many aggravating and mitigating circumstances that surround the issue of vandalism, which will all affect the outcome of the case. These can include but are not exclusive to:
- Emotional circumstances where a partner’s car or property has been intentionally damaged
- Any element of recklessness that is deemed to affect the defacement or damage to a property, structure or contents
Penalties for vandalism will depend very much on the circumstances cited, but will often look to cover the damage caused and cost of repairs. If damage caused is less than £5,000 a fine of £2,500 can be granted or three months’ imprisonment.
For damage that has caused more than £5,000, the maximum penalty matches the £5,000 or the accused risks six months’ imprisonment.
If vandalism is caused by individual(s) under 17, the focus of sentencing changes to preventative measures, which are more likely to include ‘on the spot’ fines or community service.
Many instances of vandalism can be quite serious; resulting in serious injury and in some extreme cases, death. As a result, the Criminal Damage Act also includes and offence of causing damage with the intention of endangering life. Section 2 of the Act makes it an offence for a person to destroy or damage property intending thereby to endanger the life of another or being reckless as to whether the life of another would thereby be endangered.
What to do if you are accused of accused of Vandalism?
To ensure the most favourable outcome, we would advise you to contact a specialist solicitor as soon as possible who can work through all the details of the case and identify the best lines of defence.
For more information about vandalism in general or a specific case in which you are involved, please call us 0333 202 0972 or email firstname.lastname@example.org