What constitutes criminal damage?

The legal definition of criminal damage stands as:

“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.”

The primary piece of legislation that’s used for criminal damage cases is the Criminal Damage Act 1971, although some criminal damages are covered by the Malicious Damage Act 1971.

What is ‘lawful excuse’?

Lawful excuse is where the defendant has a good and valid reason to cause criminal damage. Ways in which the defendant may have lawful excuse include:

  • The property was damaged to protect other property which they believed to be in immediate need of protection.
  • They had genuine reason to believe that the owner of the property had given them consent to damage the property.
  • They had to damage the property in self defence, to protect them from an imminent attack.

Criminal damage prosecutions

If you’ve been accused of criminal damage, you could be facing a prison sentence. If the damage amounted to less than £5,000, the maximum sentence is six months imprisonment. However, if the damage amounts to more than £5,000 the maximum sentence is ten years imprisonment.

Remember: if there was also an intention to endanger life, as well as criminal damage, the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.
If you’ve been accused of criminal damage, don’t panic, we can help. Our team of expert criminal damage solicitors work tirelessly to ensure our clients get the best possible outcome, so contact us today to discuss your case.