Criminal damage under £5000 and statutory time limits

18 October 2021

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question:

Where there is an offence of Criminal Damage that has a value less than £5,000, with no other offences linked, would this constitute as having a statutory time limit? As an either way offence, with the lesser form of criminal damage being tried summarily.

Answer:

Section 22 of the Magistrates' Court 1980 provides that if damage is valued at less than £5,000, the court shall proceed as if the offence were triable only summarily. This is however only an administrative procedure, the rule was introduced to prevent defendants from electing trial at the Crown Court for relatively minor cases; it does not change the status of the offence.

The case of R v Fennel 2000 confirms the offence remains an 'either way' offence and is therefore indictable. Furthermore, the case of DPP v Bird 2015 confirmed section 127(2) Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 also applies to the offence so that the time limit for summary offences does not apply.

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