Anastasia Qvist is an outstanding lawyer. My criminal law situation (family violence order) was difficult, complex and Ana's diligence saved me as I was going through the most difficult period of my life. Ana is down to earth, commonsense and she even kept our costs to a minimum. She is a skilled litigator and knows the ins and outs of the ACT Magistrates Court. She dealt skillfully with the DPP and is an excellent negotiator. You will get a fair representation and she genuinely cares about her clients. She has my complete recommendation. The lady goes to bat for her clients.
I would strongly recommend Anastasia to anyone who is seeking legal representation. As a first-time offender who was charged with a Level 2 Drink Driving offence, she walked me through every step of the matter and was very upfront and clear on all aspects of my case. She was always accessible when I needed advice. Her approach and advice were excellent. Under her representation, I received the best possible outcome and managed to avoid a criminal conviction. She was a pleasure to deal with throughout the whole matter.
Anastasia Qvist was very professional and helpful in every step of my matter. I got a very good outcome and I can’t thank you enough for your hard work and the Armstrong Legal team in Canberra. I would highly recommend her!!!
Throughout Angela has been the consummate professional. She maintained a calm, yet strong demeanour remained informative and completely open in her communication and took complete ownership of the situation. We felt confident we finally had an advocate to steer us out of the nightmare we were in, and she did so with great respect and sincerity. I cannot speak more highly of Angela. She has literally rescued our family from what looked very much like a hopeless future.
Words can’t describe how grateful I am to Trudie Cameron being my solicitor and to Andrew Tiedt presenting my case in the court. They both have been very supportive and amazingly professional and effective. I’ve got an absolutely fantastic outcome I couldn’t even dream about.
Soon after meeting Andrew I knew he was the solicitor I wanted to handle my matter. He immediately sprang into action which brought me stability and hope during a tumultuous time in my life. Andrew was never afraid to give me straight answers to my tough questions which is a true mark of integrity. He is clearly at ease in the court environment and I believe his calm and measured demeanour went a long way to helping me secure the best result from my day in court. I would certainly recommend you approach Andrew if you need assistance.
"Andrew Tiedt was very professional and considerate to personal circumstances and gave sound advice that resulted in the best outcome possible. Highly recommended."
Wilful Damage (Qld)
In Queensland, it is a criminal offence to damage property intentionally and without lawful excuse. This is known as wilful damage and can include damage done to public property, commercial property and private property. The offence is governed by section 469 of the Criminal Code Act 1899. In other states and territories, this offence is referred to as criminal damage and property damage. There is no longer a specific offence known as malicious damage, though the term is still widely used.
Wilful damage is one of the most commonly reported criminal offences. It incorporates a wide range of acts including graffiti, vandalism and deliberate or reckless destruction of property. In some circumstances, a person can even be found guilty of damaging their own property, such as where a person deliberately damages their car so as to make an insurance claim.
An item need not be destroyed completely in order for the offence of wilful damage or malicious damage to be made out. It is enough that the item is rendered “imperfect or inoperative”:
Defences to wilful damage
A person charged with a wilful damage offence may validly argue any of the below defences.
Absence of intent
To be found guilty of wilful damage beyond a reasonable doubt, a person must have caused the damage intentionally. If the damage was an accident, it does not amount to an offence.
It is a defence to wilful damage if the owner of the property consented to the person damaging it. An example of this would be where a neighbour agrees to let someone break up old furniture to use as firewood.
Another defence to wilful damage is extraordinary emergency. It is not an offence to damage property when you are in danger of death or serious injury. An example of this would be ripping up a person’s clothing to bandage a profusely bleeding wound.
Compulsion or duress
Compulsion or duress is also a defence to wilful damage. If a woman in a domestic violence relationship damages property because her abusive partner demands that she do so and threatens her with violence if she does not comply, then she will not be found guilty of wilful damage.
Penalties for wilful damage
In Queensland, there is a range of maximum penalties specified for the offence of wilful damage, depending on the nature of the property involved and the way the damage was done. Offences against section 469 of the Act range from minor offences to extremely serious offences that carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The maximum penalty for wilful damage that does not fall into any special category is imprisonment for five years. Destroying or damaging premises by explosion, where someone is present in the property and/or a person’s life is endangered, carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Which court will deal with the offence?
There are different categories of offences in Queensland, which are heard in different courts. Misdemeanours, also known as summary offences, are heard in the Magistrates Court, and crimes (or indictable offences) are heard in the District Court or the Supreme Court. In some cases, parties to a matter have a choice as to whether to consent to the matter being heard in the Magistrates Court or whether to insist that it be dealt with on indictment in a higher court.
The simple offence of wilful damage is a misdemeanour and is heard in the Magistrates Court. All of the other wilful damage offences listed above are crimes and may be heard by the higher courts.
When a person is found guilty of a property damage offence, the court can order them to pay restitution as well as imposing a sentence. This means the offender is ordered to repay the victim the cost of the damage they caused. This can be done in a lump sum or in instalments, depending on the offender’s financial situation. However, restitution orders are generally only made against offenders who have the capacity to pay. As “malicious damage” offences are frequently committed by juveniles, who have no source of income, there are many cases where a finding of guilt is recorded but no restitution order is made.
If you require legal advice or representation in relation to a “malicious damage” offence, please contact Armstrong Legal.
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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.
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