Criminal Damage and Arson

Basic Criminal Damage

Criminal Damage Act 1971. Tri-able either way with a max. sentence of 10 years.

AR: Destruction or damage of property belonging to another without lawful excuse

Destroying something is completely ruining it. Damaging something means that it will cost time, money, or effort to restore it to its previous state (Roe v Kingerlee). Even if the damage will be naturally removed, it is still damage (Hardman v Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset).

Property must be of a tangible nature, whether real or personal, including money.

It belongs to someone if they have "custody or control of it; or have in it any proprietary right or interest; or have a charge on it" (R v Smith). 

There are two instances in S5 where D would have a lawful excuse: belief that the owner consented (R v Denton), or if other property was at risk and in need of immediate protection and what D did was reasonable in the circumstances (R v Kelleher).

MR: Intention or recklessness as to the destruction or damage of property

Intention (R v Mohan / R v Pembliton). Recklessness (R v Cunningham).

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Aggravated Criminal Damage

Criminal Damage Act 1971. Indictable offence with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

AR: Destruction or damage of property belong to themselves or another, endangering life

In aggravated criminal damage a person can be guilty if they destroy their own property (R v Merrick).

Life need not be actually endangered, only potentially endangered. Did D intend or was reckless to such danger? (R v Sangra).

The danger to life must come from the destruction or damage (R v Warwick).

MR: Intention or recklessness as to the destruction or damage of property, and intention or recklessness as to whether life was thereby endangered.

(R v Mohan / R v Cunningham).

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Arson

Criminal Damage Act 1971. Tri-able either way offence with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

AR: Destruction or damage by fire of property belonging to themselves or another without lawful excuse

All elements have the same meaning as with criminal damage, with the added element of fire.

MR: Intention or recklessness as to the destruction or damage of property by fire

(R v Mohan / R v Cunningham).

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