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Criminal Damage

AFG LAW has specialist criminal law solicitors who can advise you on all aspects of criminal damage. The law concerning criminal damage is mostly contained in the Criminal Damage Act 1971 which redefines or creates several offences protecting property rights. The Act includes punishments which vary depending on the seriousness of the offence – from fixed penalty fines to life imprisonment – and the court may even order compensation to be paid to victims.


What is criminal damage?

According to section 1(1) of the Act, ‘A person who – without lawful excuse – destroys or damages any property belonging to another, intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.’ This is criminal damage according to English law and applies to any tangible property.

A defendant accused of criminal damage would have ‘lawful excuse’ if:

  • damage to the property occurred in the process of defending them self from imminent attack and that they were found to have used reasonable force (i.e. satisfied the requirements of the general self‑defence excuse)
  • at the time the offence occurred they believed that the person entitled to give consent to the destruction or damage of the property had consented to such, or would have consented, had they known what was to happen
  • they destroyed or damaged the property in order to protect other property which they believed was in immediate need of protection and that the means of protection were reasonable having given consideration to all the circumstances

The Act stipulates that so long as the defendant’s ‘belief’ is honest it is immaterial whether that belief can be justified or not. It is for the court or the jury to decide whether the defendant belief was honestly held.
Whether actual destruction or damage has occurred is determined on a case by case basis and by degrees. The only requirement is that the damage must be more than ‘minimal’ and must constitute actual harm to the property or affect the property’s value or usefulness – either permanently or temporarily.

Further clarification of ‘damage’ holds that an alteration to the physical nature of the property which amounts to an impairment of the value or usefulness of the property constitutes damage.

What is aggravated criminal damage?

Aggravated criminal damage is essentially the same offence with the additional element of intending to endanger life, or being reckless towards it. In order for the offence to have occurred, it is only necessary to consider the possible or likely effects of the defendant’s actions rather than to prove actual danger to life.

Criminal damage through the use of fire (arson)

In instances where the destruction or damage is caused by fire they shall be charged as arson.

How can AFG LAW help me with my criminal damage case?

AFG LAW have a team of experienced criminal law experts who can help you. If you have been accused of committing criminal damage it must be proven that someone else’s property has been damaged or destroyed and that it was done intentionally.

Criminal law can sometimes be complex and difficult to fully understand – we can help you make sense of the charges against you, evaluate the evidence and advise how to proceed. We can help you prepare your defence, represent you at trial and even help you with your appeal if it should be necessary. Should you be convicted, we can identify any appropriate mitigating factors or circumstances which may help to reduce your sentence or penalty.

Our criminal law solicitors can help you with your case and provide expert legal advice and representation throughout. If you’d like more information on criminal damage please email or ring 01204 377 600 – we’ll explain how AFG LAW’s criminal law specialists can help.

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