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Threatening to destroy or damage property

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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

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.

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for threatening to destroy or damage property.


THE OFFENCE OF THREATENING TO DESTROY OR DAMAGE PROPERTY

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 Threatening to Destroy or Damage Property include:

  • Telling someone you’ll smash their windshield if they park over your driveway again;
  • Sliding a note under your neighbours door which reads, “If you don’t get rid of your kids drum set I will smash the drum set over his head so he can’t play them anymore”; or
  • Telling a fellow commuter that you will throw their phone out the window if they don’t get off the phone.

WHAT THE POLICE MUST PROVE:

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

  • That you said and/or did something to a person which amounts to a threat;
  • That you 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 theperson or a third person.

POSSIBLE DEFENCES FOR THREATENING TO DESTROY OR DAMAGE PROPERTY:

The common ways to defend this charge are:

  • To maintain your innocence if you did not commit the act;
  • 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; or
  • To raise self-defence, necessity or duress as the reason for your conduct.

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.


Types of penalties:

Jail: This is the most serious penalty for threatening to destroy or damage property and involves full time detention in a correctional facility. Read more.

Home Detention: Home detention is an alternative to full-time imprisonment. In effect the gaol sentence is served at your address rather than in a gaol. If you receive a sentence of home detention you will be strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Read more.

Intensive Corrections Order (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.

Suspended Sentence: This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.

Community Service Order (CSO): This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.

Good Behaviour Bond: This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.

Fines: When deciding the amount of a fine for threatening to destroy or damage property the magistrate or judge should consider your financial situation and your ability to pay any fine they set. Read more.

Section 10:Avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.


where to next?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

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