Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Criminal Damages

Criminal Damage is an offence that every magistrate will be familiar with. The Guidelines point to a wide range of penalties for an offence that can have a variety of aspects that affect seriousness. Fines, discharges, and, for the worst cases, custody are all prescribed, but in every case we must consider compensation. It has always seemed to me that there is a neatly just solution in making the person who commits damage pay for it. The sums involved can be very high: for example a drunken young man who thought it a good idea to lob a concrete litter bin through a shop window in order to lay hands on a £2.50 bottle of alcohol found himself looking at a bill for almost £2000 for repairs, making it a very expensive drink. We still have quite a bit of discretion about compensation and where we do not have a proper  invoice we can use our personal judgment to settle on a rough-and-ready figure, which is what we did today. We were not happy about the undocumented claim , so we cut it in half. If we were wrong (which I doubt) the loser can always lodge a civil claim.


  1. So after causing all the damage did he not take the bottle then? I assume not otherwise you'd be talking about a burglary charge.

  2. Almost all the time we hear from the CPS about the damage caused and are asked to consider compensation for the victim. We then ask for an invoice or an estimate and it is though we have asked for an explanation of the meaning of life. Many weeks, even months, can go by between the damage and the case being in court but still nobody has thought to get some documentary evidence of the cost of the damage. It also annoys me that we hear that damage to a car is covered by insurance, That leaves the victim possibly having to pay an increase in premium because of the claim, they had no wish to make. We never get any evidence of what that extra cost is.


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