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If you have been charged with a property damage offence, the Local Court Lawyers can help. Crimes involving destroying or damaging property are taken very seriously by the local court and can carry a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment. If the crime is committed in the company of 1 or more people the maximum penalty may be as high as 6 years imprisonment. There are longer terms of imprisonment if the destruction or damage of property is caused by fire or explosives, or if the offence occurs during a ‘public disorder’.
A property damage conviction has the potential to adversely impact your reputation, your chances of gaining employment or result in your termination in circumstances where your job demands that you have no criminal record. A conviction may also hinder your chances of obtaining a visa for overseas travel.
It is rarely in your best interests to agree to a police interview (or ERISP) upon being charged with a property damage offence until you have sought competent legal advice. Provide your name and address and ask to speak to a lawyer before agreeing an interview, or “to assisting police with their enquiries”.
What is a property damage offence?
The offence of ‘malicious damage’ is defined in section 195 of the Crimes Act 1900 and provides that the offence of destroying or damaging property occurs when a person intentionally or recklessly destroys or damages property belonging to another.
What is property?
“Property” is defined in section 4 of the Crimes Act 1900 and includes: –
What must the prosecution prove?
For the offence to be proved the prosecution must prove the following: –
Threaten to destroy or damage property
It is an offence to threaten to damage or destroy the property of another with the intention of causing that person to fear that the threat would be carried out. This includes knowing that if the person were to carry out the threat it will or is likely to endanger the life or to cause bodily injury to another person. This offence carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 5 years or if the threat to damage or destroy occurs during a ‘public disorder’ then the maximum term increases to 6 years.
A ‘personal violence offence’ is the term given to a group of criminal offences in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW).
If you are found guilty of malicious damage and the property owner is a person you are in a “domestic relationship with”, then it becomes a domestic violence offence. This makes the offence more serious and includes the legislative requirement of the making of an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO).
The Act defines the meaning of domestic relationship broadly. A person is in a domestic relationship with another person if the person is or has been:
Two people are also in a domestic relationship when they live, or have lived together:
If this is a situation in which you find yourself, prompt legal representation is strongly advised.
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