Property Damage (NSW)
In New South Wales, the Crimes Act 1900 and the Summary Offences Act 1988 contain offences relating to damaging or destroying property. Property damage offences range from minor matters that attract a fine only to very serious matters that attract lengthy terms of imprisonment. This page outlines the property damage offences that exist in New South Wales.
Destroying or damaging property
Under section 195 of the Crimes Act 1900, it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage property that belongs to another person. The legislation sets out different maximum penalties for this offence depends on the circumstances under which it is committed. These maximum penalties range from five years imprisonment to 12 years imprisonment.
Destroying or damaging property with intent to injure
Under section 196 of the Crimes Act 1900, it is an offence to destroy or damage property with intent to injure a person. Different maximum penalties exist for this offence depending on the circumstances. These range from seven years imprisonment to 16 years imprisonment.
Destroying or damaging property with intent to endanger life
Under section 198 o the Crimes Act 1900, it is an offence to destroy or damage property with intent to endanger life. This offence carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.
Threatening to commit offence
Under section 199 of the Crimes Act 1900, it is an offence to threaten to destroy or damage property that belongs to another person in a way that will endanger life or cause bodily injury if the offender has the intent to cause fear that the threat will be carried out. This offence carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, or seven years if the offence is committed during a public disorder.
Causing property damage dishonestly
Under section 197 of the Crimes Act 1900, a person is guilty of an offence if they damage property dishonestly and with a view to making a gain. This offence is punishable by a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment. However, a higher maximum penalty applies where the offence is committed under particular circumstances. These maximum penalties are set out below.
- Where the damage is caused by fire or explosives, 14 years imprisonment;
- Where the damage is caused during a public disorder, nine years imprisonment;
- Where the damage is caused during a public disorder by means of fire or explosives, 16 years imprisonment.
Under section 200 of the Crimes Act 1900, it is an offence to possess explosives or any other article with intent that they used to destroy or damage property.
This offence is punishable by a maximum of seven years imprisonment (where explosives are involved) or three years imprisonment in any other case.
The maximum penalty increases to nine years (for explosives) and five years (in other cases) where the offence is committed during a public disorder.
The Summary Offences Act 1988 also contains two offences involving causing damage to property.
Under section 8, it is an offence to damage or desecrate protected places. Protected places include shrines, monuments and statues such as war memorials that are located in public places. This offence is punishable by a fine of 40 penalty units.
Summary offences are dealt with by a magistrate in the Local Court or Children’s Court. Some indictable offences may also be dealt with in the Local Court, while other indictable offences can only be finalised on indictment in the higher courts (Supreme Court and District Court).
Strictly indictable offences may only be dealt with on indictment.
Property damage offences under section 198 of the Crimes Act 1900 are strictly indictable offences and must be dealt with on indictment. Other offences involving property damage under the Crimes Act 1900 may be dealt with in the Local Court where parties agree to this. In other cases, the matter will be committed to a higher court for finalisation.
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