Specialist London Solicitors in Criminal Damage cases
At MFI Law Limited we have the expertise in representing clients charged with criminal damage. Our London Solicitors are available to represent clients at London Police Stations, Magistrates' and Crown Courts throughout the country.
Section 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 states:
- 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.
- A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property, whether belonging to himself or another—
shall be guilty of an offence.
- intending to destroy or damage any property or being reckless as to whether any property would be destroyed or damaged; and
- intending by the destruction or damage to endanger the life of another or being reckless as to whether the life of another would be thereby endangered;
Meaning of Damage
Damage is not limited to permanent damage, smearing mud on the walls of a police cell may be criminal damage. What constitutes damage is a matter of fact and degree and it is for the court, using its common sense, to decide whether what occurred is damage.
The damage need not be visible or tangible if it affects the value or performance of the property.
“Recklessness” for the purposes of the Criminal Damage Act is defined as follows:
A person acts recklessly within the meaning of section 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 with respect to:
- A circumstance when he is aware of a risk that it exists or will exist;
- A result when he/she is aware of a risk that it will occur; and
- It is, in the circumstances known to him, unreasonable to take the risk.
Meaning of Property
Land can be damaged; for example, by dumping chemicals on it. Property does not however include intangibles or things in action.
Meaning of Belonging to Another
An owner can damage his or her own property if, at the same time, it belongs to someone else within the meaning of section 10 (2) of the Act. For example, if a person sets fire to his own house which is subject to a mortgage, he can still be charged under Section 1(1) and (3) as the mortgagor will have a proprietary right or interest in the property.
Meaning of Without Lawful Excuse
A motorist who damages a wheel clamp to free his car, having parked on another's property knowing of the risk of being clamped, does not have a lawful excuse under the Act: see Lloyd v DPP  1 All ER 982; R v Mitchell 2004 RTR 14 CA.
Section 5(2) defines lawful excuse where there is belief in consent or belief in the immediate necessity to protect property. Section 5(3) emphasises that the belief is subjective and must be honestly held.
Sentencing guidelines for Criminal Damage
Maximum Sentence: Level 4 fine and/or 3 months imprisonment