Destroying Or Damaging Property Intending To Endanger Life
In Victoria, it is an offence to destroy or damage property which endangers the life of another person, the maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment.
A Court can impose any of the following penalties for this charge:
- Imprisonment (Jail – Full Time)
- Community Corrections Orders
- Adjourned undertaking
The Offence of Destroying or Damaging Property Intending to Endanger Life:
The offence of destroying or damaging property is contained in s 197 (1) of the Crimes Act 1958, which states: “a person who intentionally and without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another or to himself and another shall be guilty of an indictable offence”.
What Actions Might Constitute Destroying or Damaging Property Intending to Endanger Life?
- Setting fire to a car while there is a person inside the vehicle;
- Chopping down a tree while there is a person in the tree;
- Throwing a rock through a window when there is a person in the room.
What the Police Must Prove:
To convict you of destroying or damaging property intending to endanger life, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You destroyed or damaged property;
- You did so intentionally;
- You did so without lawful excuse;
- You intended by such destruction or damage to endanger the life of another.
What is Property?
Property is defined at section 196 of the Crimes Act 1958 as, “property of a tangible nature, whether real or personal, including money and including wild creatures which have been tamed or are ordinarily kept in captivity and any other wild creatures or their carcasses, but only if, they have been reduced into possession which has not been lost or abandoned or are in the course of being reduced into possession”.
- Police cannot prove the offence
- Lawful excuse
- Lack of intent
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
Destroying or damaging property intending to endanger life is an indictable offence that can be heard in the Magistrates’ Court if the destruction or damage to the property is not significant. If the destruction or damage is significant or there are other more serious charges, the matter will be heard in the County Court.