Charged with wilful damage or just want to know more about the charge? This page will explain all.
What is Wilful Damage?
Wllful damage is a charge under section 469 of the Queensland criminal code. The legislation defines the offence as:
Any person who wilfully and unlawfully destroys or damages any property is guilty of an offence which, unless otherwise stated, is a misdemeanour, and the person is liable, if no other punishment is provided, to imprisonment for 5 years.
The legislation then goes on to list a number of special cases where if wilful damage occurs the punishment is increased these include things like;
- wills or other official documents
- schools or education facilities
What does the prosecutor need to prove?
To be found guilty of wilful damage the prosecutor would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt all of the following;
- The defendant damaged (or destroyed) the property
- The defendant did so wilfully
- The defendant did so unlawfully
Lets look at the meaning of the key words.
Damage – means to render imperfect or inoperative.
Wilfully – means the defendant had an actual intention to do the particular kind of harm that was in fact done or deliberately did an act aware at the time he or she did it that the damage caused was a likely consequence of their action and that they recklessly did the act regardless of the risk.
Unlawfully – means not justified authorised or excused by law. It does not matter if the person partially owns the property, if they damage property that is in part owned or controlled by someone else it is unlawful.
What court hears the charge?
In most cases the local Magistrates court will determine the charge however if the item damaged is a special case or explosives are used then the District court or Supreme court will need to finalise the matter.
Are there any defences?
Mistake of fact might be a possible defence. If the defendant owned the property completely then that would be a defence.
Other possible defences include
- The act was not unlawful as consent was given
What is the punishment for a wilful damage charge?
The maximum penalty for the offence is 5 years imprisonment. However if “special property” is damaged or an explosive device used the maximum penalty is increased, in some cases the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.
In general a first time offender with no criminal history might expect;
- a good behaviour bond
- a fine
- community service
if a good behaviour bond is imposed then no conviction will be recorded, all other penalties have the possibility of a conviction being recorded.
If the damage is to a special property or the value of the amount of damage done is high then more serious punishment might occur. Always get a experienced criminal lawyer to give advice on the likely penalty.
Why should I choose you and not just represent myself?
Just some reasons include;
- we know the Magistrates and what they want to hear to give you the best outcome for a wilful damage charge
- we have good relationships with the police prosecutors meaning we can often have them agree to the sentence we are asking the court to impose
- we are there to help you through the process and make everything as stress free as possible, in most cases you will not have to say anything in court
- engaging us shows the court you are taking your charges seriously
- your matter will be heard early, often first, you do not have to wait for 20-30 other matters to be heard before you
- you will be fully informed of what is to happen in court and what this means for you after court
- unlike the police or the magistrate, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests
What courts do you attend?
We attend ever court in South East Queensland from the Gold Coast to Gympie. We have offices at:
Bluedog Business Centre - Level 1, 16 McDougall Street, Milton 4064
Corporate Centre One - Level 15, 2 Corporate Court, Bundall 4217
Suite 4, 66 Duporth Avenue, Maroochydore 4558
Phone: 1300 952 255
Ipswich Corporate Office - 16 East Street, Ipswich 4305
M1 Business Centre - Level 2, 3972 Pacific Highway, Loganholme 4129
North Brisbane Serviced Offices - 3/22-24 Strathwyn Street, Brendale 4500
Links that may be of assistance
How to get in contact with us if you need a lawyer for a wilful damage charge?
If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;
- Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
- Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
If I contacted you what would occur?
If you contact us then Steven Brough the firm’s founder or our office manager Belinda Smyth will take the call or receive the email. They have 40 years legal experience between them, we can provide immediate legal assistance and answer any questions you have. We will discuss your case, provide guidance and send a quote by email with additional relevant information about your charge, all at no cost.
If you want to engage us then it’s easy, there is a form you can complete and email back or complete online. If you don’t want to engage us or want to engage another firm that’s fine, you won’t be hassled and at worst you will just have more information about your charge.
Once engaged one of our lawyers will go through your matter and contact you to discuss what the best way forward is to achieve the best results. In many cases you won’t even need to come into the office. Every one of our lawyers are very experienced with thousands of courts appearances between them and they know the courts and the Magistrates and Judges.