Criminal Damage in English Law

In English law, criminal damage refers to the act of intentionally or recklessly damaging or destroying property belonging to another person, without lawful excuse. The offence is governed by the Criminal Damage Act 1971.

To be guilty of criminal damage, the defendant must have caused damage to property either intentionally or recklessly. Intentional damage involves a deliberate act to damage the property, while reckless damage involves a disregard for the risk of damage that results in the property being damaged. The damage can include physical damage, such as breaking a window or damaging a car, or non-physical damage, such as destroying computer data.

The damage caused must also have been caused without lawful excuse. This means that there must not have been a valid reason for the defendant's actions, such as self-defence or lawful authority. The prosecution will need to prove that the defendant had no lawful excuse for their actions.

Examples of criminal damage include:
  1. Smashing a window of a car or building
  2. Graffiti or vandalism to public property
  3. Setting fire to a building or vehicle
  4. Destroying or damaging computer equipment or data

In each of these examples, the individual intentionally or recklessly caused damage to property belonging to another person, without lawful excuse. These actions would be considered criminal damage and would be punishable under the law.
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