Criminal Damage (WA)
In Western Australia, the main offence relating to unlawful property damage is contained in section 444 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913. There are also several other offences relating to unlawfully causing property damage in specific situations. This page deals with criminal damage in Western Australia and sets out the maximum penalties these offences can attract.
Under section 444 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913, a person is guilty of an offence if they wilfully and unlawfully destroy property.
Under section 445 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913, a person is guilty of an offence if they unlawfully cause damage to property belonging to another person. This offence does not require the damage to have been done wilfully. It also carries a lower maximum penalty.
Penalties for property damage offences
The maximum penalties that apply to offences under these two provisions are set out in the table below.
|Offence||Summary conviction maximum penalty||Maximum penalty||Provision|
|Wilfully and unlawfully destroying or damaging property||-||10 years imprisonment||section 444|
|Wilfully and unlawfully destroying or damaging property by fire||-||Life imprisonment||section 444|
|Wilfully and unlawfully destroying property under circumstances of aggravation||3 years imprisonment or a fine of $36 000||14 years imprisonment||section 444|
|Unlawfully destroying property of another||-||2 years imprisonment or a fine of $24 000||section 445|
Rioters causing damage
Under section 67 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913, when property is damaged as a result of persons being riotously assembled, each person assembled is guilty of a crime. This offence is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment or up to 14 years if the damage is caused by fire.
In Western Australia, criminal offences are classified as summary offences, indictable offences or either-way offences.
Summary offences are finalised in front of a magistrate, while indictable offences must be committed to a higher court for finalisation. Either-way offences can be dealt with by a magistrate or committed to a higher court depending on the nature of the allegations.
Criminal damage offences under section 444 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 are either-way offences.
Offences under section 445 of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 are summary offences.
Criminal damage and juveniles
Criminal damage offences are often committed by juveniles.
The majority of criminal charges against minors are finalised in the Children’s Court. In very serious instances of criminal damage, the charge may be committed to the District Court or Supreme Court to be finalised.
Criminal damage is a very common offence. It is also a charge that is commonly laid together with other charges. For example, when property is damaged during a domestic violence incident, there may also be a charge of assault or breaching a Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO).
A criminal damage charge may result from something as simple as writing a graffiti on a wall or from something as serious as destroying all or part of a building and its contents. The likely penalty range for the offender will depend on the charge laid, the circumstances of the offence and the circumstances of the offender, including any prior criminal history.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.