What are the Penalties for Damaging or Destroying Someone’s Property?


A 52-year-old man has been reported allegedly wielding a hammer and axe directly into the outside windows of the front of the Parramatta Local Court located on 12 George Street, Parramatta NSW last night.

The scene which was captured on footage before being uploaded onto social media depicts a man going on a wild rampage repeatedly smashing the windows of the front of the court house with an axe and hammer.

It has been reported that police later arrived and approached a man who was holding a hammer and axe at about 7:30pm last night at the front of the court house.

It was after the police officers had approached the 52-year-old man with tasers that he surrendered by laying on the ground.

When arrested, he has allegedly told police that he had consumed vodka.

Following the man’s arrest, it is reported that he was later transported to the Westmead Hospital as a consequence of receiving abrasions to his hand and for purposes of a mental health assessment.

Due to the major damage caused to the outside front windows of the Parramatta Local Court house, cases will likely be significantly delayed.

What are the Penalties for Damaging or Destroying Someone’s Property?

The penalty for damaging or destroying someone else’s property in NSW depends on the value of the damaged or destroyed property under section 195(1)(a) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Where the value of the property exceeds $5,000, the maximum penalty is 2-years prison or $11,000 fine.

Where the value of the property is more than $2,000 but $5,000 or less, the maximum penalty is 2-years prison and/or $5,500 fine.

Where the value of the property is $2,000 or less, the maximum penalty is 2-years prison and/or $2,200 fine.

Where someone commits this offence where the damage or destruction is as a result of an explosive or fire, the maximum penalty is 10-years prison under section 195(1)(b) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

However, anyone who commits the offence of damage or destroy property will face a maximum penalty of 6-years prison if it was committed in the company of another person (section 195(1A)(a) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). Or in the case of causing the damage or destruction from a fire or explosive in the company of another person- 11-years prison.

In addition, the law says that anyone who damages or destroys someone else’s property during a public disorder will face a penalty of up to 7-years prison. In the case of doing this by means of causing a fire or explosive the maximum penalty is 12-years prison.

In order for the court to find you guilty of damaging or destroying property, the prosecution is first required to prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt on the hearing day in court:

  1. You did something that caused the damage or destruction of property belonging to someone else; and
  2. You did this with the intention of causing damage or destruction, or you did this recklessly causing the damage or destruction.

In order to prove that you caused the damage or destruction recklessly, the prosecution is required to prove that you at least realised that the kind of damage or destruction that was caused may have resulted at the time of your actions that are alleged to have caused it.

How Do I Defend a Charge of Damage or Destroy Property?

If the prosecution fails to prove any one of the above 2 elements of this crime, then the Magistrate or Judge cannot find you guilty. You will then be acquitted, and the charge will get dismissed.

Some defences to a damage or destroy property charge include:

  1. Where the property is owned by you alone.
  2. You acted involuntarily due to a mental illness or other medical conditions such as sleep walking or epilepsy.
  3. You acted out of a necessity or duress.
  4. You acted to protect yourself or a property (owned by you or someone else).
  5. Where the prosecution is unable to prove that the damage or destruction was caused by your actions. Especially if there is a reasonable possibility it was caused by an intervening event or conduct of someone else.

You will be acquitted of this charge if any of the above defences apply to your case. This will mean that you will be found not guilty and your charge will be dismissed.


Negotiating with Police Through Legal Representations to Get Charges Withdrawn Early

Where any of the above outlined defences apply to your case, you may ask your lawyer to draft and send ‘legal representations’ to the prosecution outlining reasons why the charge should be withdrawn early in the case.

This is the formal way of negotiating with the police early.

If successful, the charge(s) can end up getting withdrawn early, putting an end to your case with no further legal fee and stresses of going to court.

The History of the Parramatta Court House

The Parramatta Local Court is located about a 2-minute walk across the road from the Parramatta office of Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia situated at Suite 1, Level 1, 154 Marsden St, Parramatta.

The original and first Parramatta court house was opened in 1791 before being demolished in 1826 as a consequence of the diminished and poor condition of the structure.

All-together the Parramatta court house has bene built a total of 5 times.

The second courthouse used to be situated at the corner of George and Church St, built in 1837. It was used up until 1891.

The third court house was situated on the corner of Marsden and George St, built and opened in 1896. This court house had the royal coat of arms of the UK.

The fourth court house was situated across from the fifth (current) court house. It opened its doors on 8 November 1974, but closed operations in 2008.

The fifth court house is now known as the current one we have situated within the Parramatta Justice Precinct, which includes a Parramatta Children’s Court and 9 court rooms where complex jury trials are conducted for criminal cases.


Contact our friendly staff if you have a question. Our Parramatta and Sydney criminal defence lawyers are leading experts in criminal law with 8 conveniently located offices in NSW.

Call our 24/7 hotline on (02) 8606 2218.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.


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