Tag Archives: criminal damage

Criminal damage – evidence, police interview and court proceedings

The crime of criminal damage is made out if a person intentionally or recklessly damages property. Most commonly it is damage to cars and windows, very often as an act of revenge.

The damage does not need to be permanent. There have been cases where graffiti, the use of water-soluble paints on a pavement and squashing a policeman’s helmet have all been held to be criminal damage, as has flooding a police cell.

If action, expense or inconvenience is involved in putting the matter right then damage will have been caused, as would be the case if you created ‘crop circles’ in a wheat field.

The court will consider all of the circumstances.  Whether something is damaged is a matter of fact or degree that may have to be decided by the court if the case goes to trial.

criminal damage

What if it is my property?

 You cannot unlawfully damage your own property, but it can still be an offence to damage jointly owned property. So, a person who smashes up a family home in a fit of rage would very often be guilty of the offence of criminal damage.

What if it was an accident?

There is sometimes a fine line between accident and recklessness. To prove recklessness, the court should be sure that you were aware of a risk that property would be damaged, and, in the circumstances, it was unreasonable for you to take that risk.

The offence can be committed by being reckless or intending to cause the damage. Intent is simply that you committed the damage on purpose (although in legal terms it is slightly more complex than this).

Is there a defence to criminal damage?

 Whether the offence is committed depends on damage being caused without “lawful excuse”. You would have lawful excuse if you believed you had consent to cause the damage or would have had consent or that you were protecting your own property or that belonging to someone else. Your actions would have to be reasonable in all the circumstances. It is your belief that is important so if it is honestly held it may not matter if the belief is not justified.

Causing damage simply because you are drunk will afford neither a defence nor mitigation.

 Where will I be dealt with?

 criminal damageThis offence will be dealt with in the magistrates’ court where the value involved does not exceed £5,000. When there is more than one offence of damage the total of the damages will be used to calculate whether the offence is £5,000 or less. The court determines the value of the damage in deciding whether they are to deal with the case.

Where damage is caused by fire (arson) different considerations apply.

Is there a time limit on prosecution?

 Even though certain offences can only be dealt with in the magistrates’ court the six-month time period for prosecution does not apply.

What sentence will I get?

 criminal damageMinor damage such as breaking a small window is likely to result in a conditional discharge or fine. Significant damage up to £5,000 caused as part of a spree can lead to a community order or custody of up to three months. The higher the value, the more likely imprisonment will be imposed, the maximum sentence at the crown court is ten years.

In appropriate cases we will work hard to have your case diverted away from the criminal justice system.  An early apology and offer of compensation can sometimes be enough to avoid a criminal case.

How can we help?

If you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about an offence of criminal damage then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.

The advantages of such early advice legal advice can be found here.

In a case of criminal damage this might include diverting your case from the court process entirely.

If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.  Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.

We have offices across the East Midlands.  You can find your most convenient office here.   Alternatively you can contact us using the form below.

Criminal damage
VHS Fletchers East Midlands offices


Magistrates’ Court representation secures discontinuance

Derby crime solicitor Stacey Mighty provided advice and magistrates court representationrepresentation to a client charged with an allegation of criminal damage.  She had already provided free and independent legal advice to her client in police interview.  Stacey then gave her client the continuity of representation that he wanted by going on to provide Magistrates’ Court representation.


Denied allegation of criminal damage

Our client faced allegations that he had had damaged his girlfriend’s property.  You can read more about the law on criminal damage here.  He was denying the allegation.  Further, our client believed that his girlfriend was no longer interested in cooperating with the prosecution.

In this case, the complainant in the case had told the police that she did not want to pursue the allegation.  As a result the prosecutor at court already knew that was the case.  Despite this a decision had been made that the prosecution should continue.

Prosecution in the public interest?

Stacey had made representations prior to the case being heard that the prosecution should simply drop the case. It was a minor allegation and it could not be in the public interest to proceed when the witness was no longer interested.

Other factors suggested that the prosecution was not necessary:

  • there was no history of domestic incidents
  • a defence had been put forward in interview
  • our client’s limited convictions
  • there would be a need to force the witness to attend court

Magistrates’ Court representation by solicitor will make a difference

Stacey’s client pleaded not guilty due to the position adopted by the prosecution.  He was ready to contest the case at trial.  The case was, however, listed before a District Judge in the Magistrates’ Court.

magistrates court representationStacey took the opportunity to raise the same issues again but with the Judge.  He shared Stacey’s concerns as to whether the case should proceed.

Instead of listing the case for trial the District Judge gave the prosecution two weeks to fully review the decision to proceed.  As a result of Stacey’s representation at court the prosecution decided to discontinue the charge.  This decision ultimately meant that the resources of the prosecution and the court could be diverted to other cases.

Stacey’s client avoid the risk of being convicted after trial before Magistrates.

Contact Derby crime solicitor Stacey Mighty

magistrates' court representation Derby
Derby criminal solicitor Stacey Mighty

The benefit of instructing specialist crime solicitors VHS Fletchers solicitors is that we will aim to provide you with continuity of representation at the police station and Magistrates’ Court.

This means that the solicitor with knowledge of your case will deal with you throughout proceedings where possible.  This case demonstrates the benefits of such an approach.

Our independent legal advice in the police station is always free of charge to you.  You can read some of the benefits of our advice in the police station here.

Magistrates court representation will often be available under the criminal legal aid scheme.  You can read more about that here.

Whether you need free legal advice in the police station or Magistrates’ Court representation please call Stacey to discuss your case.  She can be contacted on 01332 546818.  Alternatively you can use the contact form below.



Chesterfield Criminal Solicitor – No Case to Answer

Chesterfield criminal Solicitor David Gittins recently used all of his court experience to successfully argue at trial that there was no case for his client to answer.  This would mean that all charges would be dismissed.  As a result his client would be not guilty of the offences. Previous criminal behaviour need not mean that a person is inevitably guilty of new offences.

The Allegation

David’s client had been arrested and charged with an allegation of criminal damage. The background was one of anti-social behaviour directed towards a neighbour.  A restraining order had been put in place as a result.

The complainant, as well as having the protection of a court order, had also put up CCTV .  This was specifically to cover a passageway between the two properties.

chesterfield criminal solicitorThe allegation was that David’s client had damaged this camera.  Although the damage was not caught on the camera, and there were no eye-witnesses, the prosecution had chosen to bring the case to court.  The case was brought on the basis of our client’s poor behaviour in the past and because he was in the area at the time the camera was damaged.

Although David’s client had denied the offence in police interview, he appeared to accept causing damage by catching himself on some low hanging wires in the dark.  He himself had called the police the following day to give that account.

The Trial

chesterfield criminal solicitor
Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court

David had seen his client to take instructions and provide advice on on several occasions before the trial date.  David had also taken the time to visit the property.  He took photographs to allow the Magistrates to fully understand the scene.

These instructions allowed David to develop a case plan ensuring that he knew what evidence was required from the witness to secure an acquittal for his client.

At trial the owner of the CCTV attended and gave evidence about the its location and how and when it was fixed to the wall.  During his evidence the witness accepted “it was possible” that some of the wires may have dropped. David knew this answer was key. Previously in discussions with the prosecution,  it was claimed that there were no such wires.

The witness gave evidence for the prosecution for over 30 mins. David then questioned the witness himself, although he chose to only a small number of questions.  This questioning only lasted three minutes.

chesterfield criminal solicitorAfter the prosecution case had finished, David made an application that the case ought to be dismissed.  This was because there was simply no evidence upon which his client could be convicted.  The prosecution witness had confirmed what his client had said about loose wires.  There was no eye witness testimony to the incident.  As a result there was no evidence to challenge his account.

The Magistrates retired and returned a short while later accepting David’s argument and dismissing the case.

His  client was delighted as he was subject to a Suspended Sentence Order so any conviction would have almost certainly resulted in a prison sentence.

Criminal legal aid in the Magistrates’ Court 

Chesterfield criminal solicitor david gittinsLegal aid is available for advice and representation before the Magistrates’ Court.  It is dependent upon our clients satisfying the legal aid agency of the merits of their cases and that they qualify on their means.

In this case, David’s client had the benefit of legal aid which means that his representation was free of charge to our client.

Instruct a Chesterfield criminal solicitor

criminal damage not guilty verdict
Chesterfield partner and crime solicitor David Gittins

Whether you find yourself under investigation by the police, or facing proceedings before the Magistrates’ or Crown Court, you will want to instruct a specialist Chesterfield criminal solicitor to present and argue your case.  We will give you a clear idea of what needs to be achieved and how it can be will benefit you.

There are many reasons to take advantage of our free and independent legal advice in police interview.  You can read about those here.

If you wish to instruct Chesterfield criminal solicitor David then please telephone him on 01246 387999 or contact him using the form below.  Details of your nearest office can be found here.