Criminal Damage and Assault Charges – Accused With Schizophrenia

This is a case study on Criminal Damage and assault charges involving an accused with schizophrenia.

What is alleged to have occured?
Our client was arrested for attacking a police station. He threw a rock through a window, damaged some cars, and made threats to police officers. On the face of it, it seemed like he had a vendetta against the police. However, when we met him in the cells upon his arrest, we realised very quickly that he was extremely unwell. He was suffering from hallucinations which made him think the police were putting voices inside his head.

What happened at court?
The case was heard at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. The charges were:

  • Criminal Damage
  • Reckless Engage Conduct
  • Threats to Inflict Serious Injury
  • Unlawful Assault
We conducted a successful bail application which led to the client being released on bail. He then went to a clinic which assisted him by giving him anti-psycotic medication and a case worker. A psychiatric report was obtained which diagnosed the client with schizophrenia. We also obtained a character reference from the client’s family which outlined the positive aspects of his personality.

We case conferenced the matter and got most of the charges withdrawn or amended. We then conducted a plea and tendered the psychiatric materials and references. In particular, we highlighted that the client has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and that he was suffering psychosis at the time of the offending. Hence this was a case of Criminal Damage and assault charges involving an accused with schizophrenia. The matter proceeded as a plea of guilty to Criminal Damage, Reckless Conduct Placing a Person in Danger of Serious Injury, and Threat to Inflict Serious Injury.

What was the result?
The client was ultimately placed on a Community Corrections Order with one condition: that he continue with his mental health treatment. This was a fantastic outcome as it meant that the client could continue to be supervised and receive the help he needed.

The prosecution also made applications for forensic procedures and compensation for the criminal damage. We opposed these applications and made submissions about how unwell the client was, and how he did not have the capacity to pay compensation. The applications were refused. This was a great relief to the client as he did not have to give his DNA to the police or pay a huge sum in compensation.

It is important to take a different approach if a client is really unwell – such as in a case of Criminal Damage and assault charges involving an accused with schizophrenia. A good lawyer will obtain medical materials and pitch for a sentence which is therapeutic in nature. They will also think about how ancillary orders might affect the client.

Elements of Criminal Damage:
  • The accused destroyed or damaged property;
  • The property belonged to another;
  • The accused intended to destroy or damage property;
  • The accused did not have a lawful excuse for his or her actions.
Related case studies
DISCLAIMER: This is a real case study of an actual case from our files. Details pertaining to the client have been changed to protect their privacy. The sentence imposed and the charge have not been altered. These case studies are published to demonstrate real outcomes and give an indication of possible tariffs in Court. We do not guarantee a similar case on these charges will get the same result. Please note that we post results at our discretion, therefore while many case studies are average results, others are notable for their exceptional outcomes. PUBLISHED 12/08/2019