Case Study: Criminal damage charged downgraded to wilful damage
In this case study, our client was charged with two offences of criminal damage. An initial attempt to secure diversion for our client was rejected by the prosecution but ultimately our client received the next best outcome which was an unconditional dismissal of the charge. Read on for a brief summary of the facts, how the case was resolved, and the outcome.
Date and location of offences
April 2022, Box Hill
Ringwood Magistrates Court, April 2023.
Facts and details of offences
Our client had ended a long-term defacto relationship (some 20 years). After separation legal proceedings were initiated as to a division of the asset pool. Unfortunately, the conflict between our client and her former partner escalated during these proceedings. The incident which brought our client to Court concerned her attending the former home wherein she damaged a coffee maker and a window. Subsequent to a police complaint and later interview our client was charged with criminal damage. The total property value (window and coffee maker) was below $1000. Our client made full admissions to the property damage and was remorseful.
How the case was resolved
Our client sought representation from our office after she had some initial discussions with the prosecution. During summary case conference discussions an attempt to have our client referred for diversion was made, but unfortunately, the prosecution was not prepared to recommend a diversion despite our client having no criminal history, making full admissions to the offences in her police interview, and that the value of property damaged was modest (less than $1000).
The prosecution was encouraged to accept a charge of Wilful damage as being more reflective of our client's criminality and to combine the two criminal damage charges into a single amended Wilful damage charge.
Criminal damage is an indictable offence, and specifies a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment; whereas Wilful damage is a summary offence, with a maximum of 25 penalty units or 6 months imprisonment.
Discussions with the prosecution resulted in the case proceeding as a single amended charge of Wilful damage, and submissions in mitigation were made before the presiding Magistrate.
Our client had obtained several excellent character references and importantly had sought counselling for anger management. Submissions to the Magistrate addressed the context of the offending and our client's cooperation with the police was identified as a significant factor in mitigation.
On the basis of all matters put on behalf of our client, the Magistrate was persuaded to not record a conviction and deal with the case on the basis of an unconditional dismissal under section 76 of the Sentencing Act
Call our office if you require advice or representation
If you're required to attend Court for any property offence such as criminal damage or wilful damage call us on 03 9668 7600 for prompt advice. Early preparation is often the key to obtaining a good outcome.