Criminal Damage and Assault Charges – Accused With Schizophrenia

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

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 Jessica Clothier – our lawyer who acted on the client’s behalf – met him in the cells upon his arrest, she 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.

The case was heard at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. The charges were:

  • Criminal Damage
  • Reckless Engage Conduct
  • Threats to Inflict Serious Injury
  • Unlawful Assault

A successful bail application was conducted by Jessica 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. Jessica also obtained a character reference from the client’s family which outlined the positive aspects of his personality.

Jessica case conferenced the matter and got most of the charges withdrawn or amended. She then conducted a plea and tendered the psychiatric materials and references. In particular, she 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.

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. Jessica 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.

Other related case studies:


Jessica ClothierJessica Clothier

Jessica works from our Sunshine office and regularly handles cases at the Sunshine Magistrates' Court. She also represents clients at other Melbourne courts to ensure their right to a fair trial and the best possible outcome. Jessica has always been a fearless advocate and her skills in criminal law are acknowledged as early as during her university years.

Admitted to legal practice in April 2018, Jessica has completed placements at Springvale Monash Legal Service and at one of the top immigration firms in Australia. She graduated with Honours in Law in 2017 from Monash University and finished her Practical Legal Training at Leo Cussen Centre for Law.

Click here to know more about Jessica's background.

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