Malicious property damage can be a serious issue, with high cost to yourself as well as emotional ramifications. If you feel that this has been done to you, you should seek legal help right away. Here’s how to go about starting proceedings.
The first thing that you need to do is to capture as much evidence as you can on your own. You should take photographs as soon as the damage has been done, and anything that proves it was the perpetrator if possible. You should also look back through your files to find the most recent photograph you can of your property before it was damaged or destroyed. If the police come, it is important to record everything with them in great detail. This will all help your legal action in the long run. According to LY Lawyers, the perpetrator can only be convicted if the police prove beyond any reasonable doubt that they intentionally or recklessly caused the damage, and if it can be proven that the property partly or wholly belongs to you rather than to them.
Find a law firm
In order to get legal help, you must first choose a law firm that you feel will be best able to represent you. They should have significant experience in dealing with criminal matters, and particularly with property damage. Note that there are many different types of law, and even a lawyer with a lot of experience may never have dealt with this kind of case before! You should also look for someone local to you or to the court where proceedings will be heard, so that you are able to meet with them regularly without incurring significant cost. Finally, try meeting with them to discuss the case so that you can decide whether you want to retain their services.
Present your case
When you meet with your lawyers, offer them as much information and evidence as you can – this will help them to put the case before the court in a much more organised way. They will also liaise with the police and with other people connected to the case in order to gather as much information as they possibly can. Make sure that anything relevant is given to them, even if it casts you in a bad light. You would not want them to be blindsided by it in the courtroom if the perpetrator uses it in their defence!
Decide your goals
What kind of results are you looking for? Decide what you want to aim for and the case can be presented in such a way as to convince the judge. Malicious damage to property charges can be punishable by time in prison, a suspended sentence, an intensive correction order, a community service order, a good behaviour bond, or a fine. If you feel that you want to punish the offender but not too harshly, for example if they are a relative, you could aim to have them put on a good behaviour bond or doing community service rather than spending time in prison. A good lawyer can argue the case according to your wishes and your desired goal.
As soon as you become aware that you may have to see the case in court, it is advisable to find a lawyer, rather than sticking with someone appointed by the court. You must find someone who can beat the defence, as they will be angling for a section 10 – where the case is dismissed and the perpetrator goes free.