Our specialist Criminal Defence Lawyers have successfully defended many clients charged with arson, affray and/or criminal damage. There is often a crossover between these offences or some of them.
We have over 30 criminal defence lawyers and a lot of experience. It is common with these offences for the defendant to be a first time offender. We can advise on whether it's best to plead guilty or not guilty and use all our skill and experience to mitigate any sentence.
We are highly experienced in advising and representing defendants charged with criminal damage. With criminal lawyers in London and in a variety of other locations in England & Wales, you can rely on our ability to defend you.
Offences of criminal damages are set out in the Criminal Damage Act 1971. In basic terms, the offence is destroying or damaging property which does not belong to you. The prosecution must prove that you intended to destroy or damage property or were reckless about damage caused. The damage must be sufficient to impact the value or useability of the property damaged.
Defences (other than putting the prosecution to proof of the offence) commonly involve claiming that damage was caused in a fight and that self defence applies. There are other possible defences but these are difficult, such as alleging that the owner had consented to the damage.
Criminal damage sentence
Maximum sentences for criminal damage, where other offences are not involved, are linked to the value of damage caused. If less than £5000, the maximum sentence will be uo to 6 months in prison. If the damage is over £5,000.00, cases may go to the Crown Court and sentences are harsher, up to a maximum of 10 years prison time.
There is a further category of aggravated criminal damage, often involving arson, where if the prosecution believe they can prove there was an intention or recklessness as to endangering life, life imprisonment is the maximum possible sentence.
Arson Defence Solicitors
An allegation of arson is treated very seriously and those found guilty can be jailed for life. If you are suspected of or have been accused of such a crime you will need to engage a specialist solicitor to act on your behalf as soon as possible.
There are a range of different arson offences that you can be charged with under the Criminal Damage Act 1971.
- ‘Simple arson’: involves causing damage by deliberately setting fire to something such as a vehicle in a field or an empty shop, or even in some cases, your own property.
- Arson involving being reckless as to whether life is endangered. For example, setting fire to an aircraft or an apartment in a block of flats where people could get hurt.
- The most serious offence is ‘arson with intent to endanger life’.
If it is not clear whether the arson was reckless or with intent, the CPs may charge you with both offences as alternatives.
Sentences for arson will vary depending on how much damage is caused and what the intent was when setting the fire. All arson offences carry a maximum life sentence on conviction.
If you are accused of arson it is imperative to consult a specialist Criminal Defence Solicitor straight away.
Solicitors for affray defence
If you use or have threatened unlawful violence towards someone and your actions would cause them to fear for their personal safety, you could be accused of affray.
Affray can happen in public or private places. A charge of affray could see you jailed for up to three years. If two or more people use or threaten unlawful violence, it is the conduct of everyone taken together that will be considered.
If property was also damaged, you could be suspected of criminal damage and face a prison sentence of up to 10 years. This could be increased to 14 years if the incident was found to be religiously or racially motivated.
With over 20 specialist criminal lawyers in many locations we are experienced in defending clients where allegations include :-
- pub or street fights.
- the indiscriminate throwing of objects at crowds,
- or the wielding of a weapon.
We offer a variety of funding options which includes legal aid, though this is dependent on both your financial situation and the seriousness of the offence.
Alternatively, you may wish to privately fund your defence. We offer a fixed fee package where possible to give you the certainty you need from the outset.
If you or a loved one has been arrested, contact our specialist Criminal Defence Solicitors without delay.