Criminal damage

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Criminal damage
  • General
  • The elements of the offence—simple criminal damage
  • Damage—simple criminal damage
  • Property—simple criminal damage
  • Belonging to another—simple criminal damage
  • Intention—simple criminal damage
  • Recklessness—simple criminal damage
  • Lawful excuse—simple criminal damage
  • Sentencing—simple criminal damage
  • More...

Criminal damage


Simple criminal damage is triable either way unless the value of the alleged damage is £5,000 or less, in which case the offence will be treated as if it were triable only summarily.

Where the damage is caused by fire or the racially aggravated form of the offence is charged, then even if the value of the damage is less than £5,000 it will be triable either way. Equally, where the defendant is charged with two or more offences which form part of a series of two or more offences of the same or similar character, (and the total value exceeds £5,000) the offence would be triable either way.

Where the value of the damage is over £5,000 criminal damage is typically tried summarily, unless it appears to the court that one of the following aggravating features are present:

  1. deliberate fire-raising

  2. the offence was committed by a group

  3. the damage is of high value, or

  4. the offence has clear racial motivation, and the court's sentencing powers are insufficient

The Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines suggest that the Crown Court may be the appropriate venue for offences where the value is over £10,000.

The elements of the offence—simple criminal damage

The prosecution must prove that the defendant:

  1. without lawful excuse

  2. destroyed or damaged property

  3. with the intention of destroying or damaging such property, or

  4. was reckless as to whether

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