Threats to Destroy or Damage Property

In Victoria, Threats to Destroy or Damage Property is found in section 198 of the Crimes Act 1958. It is a criminal offence to threaten to damage or to destroy property, to either the owner of the property or to a third person, while intending them to believe it.

Have you been accused of Threats to Destroy or Damage Property? If you have, you should get in contact with us to arrange a conference with one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers. Our lawyers have enormous experience in representing people accused of Threats to Destroy or Damage Property and we can give you strategic advice.
 
threats to destroy or damage property
Police Interview

If the Police believe you have made Threats to Destroy or Damage Property, they will contact you to arrange a Police interview. Police officers are trained investigators and their main purpose for interviewing you is to try to gather evidence to build their case against you. Police officers are skilled in asking you questions in a way to make you look like you are not telling the truth. It is for these reasons, that you must get some advice from one of our lawyers about how to handle the interview process before you speak with the Police. There is no such thing as ‘off the record’, anything you tell a Police officer can appear in a statement if the Police think it helps their case.

You will undoubtedly have some important questions such as:

  • Do I have to answer all questions?
  • Will I look guilty if I say ‘no comment’?
  • Will the Police leave me alone if I answer their questions?

We can also attend the Police station with you and sit in on the interview if you feel more comfortable having someone there on your side. A Police interview can be daunting because it is typically conducted at a Police station with two Police officers.

Your defence begins at the very first interaction you have with Police.

Pleading Not Guilty

If you have been charged with Threats to Destroy or Damage Property, you should get in early to speak with one of our lawyers who can look at the brief of evidence and advise you on your prospects of successfully defending the charge. You want to get in early because there may be time sensitive evidence that needs to be gathered which the Police will overlook. This evidence may undermine the Police case.

The difference our firm offers our clients is that we are pro-active in our approach to representing people. We consider – are there witnesses who the Police have not spoken to? Is there evidence that Police have not gathered? Is there data that needs to be protected?

Our lawyers have achieved many acquittals for people charged with Threats to Destroy or Damage Property.

Pleading Guilty

Our lawyers have represented many people in Court who have decided to plead guilty to Threats to Destroy or Damage Property. The advantage this gives our lawyers is that we know what preparation should be done ahead of Court to get a favourable outcome. Generally speaking, things which lead to a good outcome include:

  • Gathering character references,
  • Writing an apology letter to the victim,
  • Undergoing a relevant course.

The key thing we have discovered after decades of experience is that your preparation before Court is the key to a great outcome. When you attend Court with a bundle of material demonstrating the positive steps you have taken in the lead up to Court, you can deal with anything that is thrown at you in Court.

Which court will the case be heard in?

Threats to Destroy or Damage Property is the sort of charge regularly heard in the Magistrates’ Court. That is if the value of the property threatened to be damaged or destroyed is less than $100,000 otherwise the charge will be heard in the County Court.

What is the legal definition of Threats to Destroy or Damage Property?

Section 198 of the Crimes Act provides that the threat must be made without lawful excuse for this offence to be made out. The Free Legal Dictionary defines ‘to destroy’ as to completely ruin a structure beyond the possibility of use.

Examples of Threats to Destroy or Damage Property
  • Telling your neighbour that you plan on damaging your ex-partner’s car to put her or him at risk of death;
  • Telling your colleague that you will damage property belonging to your employer, placing other colleagues or members of the public at risk of death.
Legislation

The legislation for this offence can be found on section 198 of Crimes Act 1958.

Elements of the offence

The Police must show that the accused:

  1. made a threat to another person that they would destroy or damage property belonging to that other person, a third party or the accused and another person; or
  2. the accused made a threat to another person that they would destroy or damage property that they believed or knew was likely to endanger the life of that other person or a third person.
“Can the police prove that you intended to endanger another person’s life when you made the threats to damage or destroy their property?”
Defences

Possible defences to this charge could be duress, a factual dispute, lack of intent or wrongful identification.

Questions a Judge would ask

If this charge was being determined in the County Court before a judge and jury, the judge may ask the jury:

  1. Are you satisfied that the property belonged to another person?
  2. Are you satisfied that the accused intended to endanger the victim’s life when he/she made the threats to destroy or damage their property?
Questions in cases like this
  • Did you make the threats?
  • What words did you say?
  • Did you intend to endanger the victim’s life when you made the threats?

You should call us to discuss your case with one of our experienced lawyers if you have been charged. Deciding on whether to plead guilty or not while have major implications for you and should be made after proper discussion with a criminal lawyer.

Maximum penalty for section 198 of the Crimes Act 1958

The charge of Threats to Destroy or Damage Property (s198 of the Crimes Act 1958) has a maximum penalty of level 6 imprisonment (5 years).

Sentencing

Sentencing in the higher courts of Victoria

Sentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Make Threat to Destroy or Damage Property in the Higher Courts of Victoria between 2017 and 2022

Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria

Sentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Threaten to Destroy or Damage Property in the Magistrates' Court of Victoria between 2018 and 2021

Other important resources