Threatening to Destroy or Damage Property in NSW - Charges, Penalties and Sentencing

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Threatening to Destroy or Damage Property


In NSW you can be charged with a criminal offence if you make a threat to someone about damaging or destroying their property or the property of a third person. You can also be charged if you make a threat to someone about damaging or destroying their property where the threat, if it were carried out, would likely injure or harm that person or a third person.

This offence is known as Threatening to Destroy or Damage Property. The maximum penalty for the offence is 5 years imprisonment.

Legislation

The offence of Threatening to Destroy or Damage Property is contained in section 199 of the Crimes Act 1900 and states:

A person who, without lawful excuse, makes a threat to another, with the intention of causing that other to fear that the threat would be carried out:

  • To destroy or damage property belonging to that other or to a third person, or
  • To destroy or damage the first-mentioned person’s own property in a way which that person knows will or is likely to endanger the life of, or to cause bodily injury to, that other or a third person,

is liable to imprisonment for 5 years.

What Actions Might Constitute the Offence of Threatening to Destroy or Damage Property?

Examples of conduct that could give rise to a charge of threatening to destroy or damage property include:

  • Telling someone you’ll smash their windshield;
  • Telling a fellow commuter that you will throw their phone out the window;
  • Threatening to break a kid’s drum kit over his head;
  • Telling someone you will come to their house and put bricks through their window.

What must be proven?

To convict a person of Threatening to Destroy or Damage Property the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That they said and/or did something to a person which amounts to a threat;
  • That they had the intention to cause the person to fear that the threat would be carried out;
  • That either:
    • The threat was one involving the destruction or damage of property belonging to the person or to another person; or
    • The threat was one involving the destruction or damage of the person’s property and, if carried out, would likely injure or endanger the life of the person or a third person.

Possible defences

The common ways to defend this charge are:

  • To argue that what you said and/or did was not a threat;
  • To argue that you did not intend for the person to fear that you would carry out the threat;
  • To argue that the threat was not to destroy or damage property;
  • To argue that the threat was not one that would likely injure or endanger the life of a person, if it were to be carried out.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

The charge is a table one offence which means that the matter will be finalised in the Local Court unless the Director of Public Prosecutions or the charged person elects to have the matter finalised in the District Court.

If the matter is finalised in the Local Court the court can only impose a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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