The crime of damage is a criminal offense that consists of the impairment or destruction of a material belonging to another, reducing its patrimonial economic value. The penalty for this crime varies depending on the value of the damaged thing.
What is the crime of damage?
The damage crime is regulated in articles 263 to 267 of the Penal Code. This crime occurs when the active subject causes the destruction or impairment of someone else’s property. The damaged thing can be movable or immovable.
The consequence of the damage is the loss or reduction of its economic value without considering the author’s possible enrichment.
The protected legal asset is property, whether publicly or privately owned. In addition, the damaged thing must have an economically assessable heritage value. That is that the matter can be appraised and quantified.
It is essential to add that moral damages are excluded from this crime in this type of case. On the other hand, the damage caused can be intentional or reckless.
The crime of intentional damage
If the crime of damage occurs with intent, we face a crime of intentional injury. In these cases, the active subject acts maliciously with awareness and will cause damage. The action causing the damage can be done by any means.
In addition, the commission by omission is possible in the intentional crime of damages. In these cases, the author does not carry out a dynamic behavior but consciously fails to do something so that the injury occurs. However, there must be a legal or contractual obligation to intervene for the conduct to be punishable.
Aggravated subtypes of damage and specific types
A higher penalty is established for certain types of malicious damage. They are those included in article 263.2:
- Damages are caused to prevent the free exercise of authority or as a consequence of actions carried out in the practice of their functions. The crime can be committed against public officials or against individuals who, as witnesses or in any other way, have contributed or may contribute to the execution or application of laws or general provisions.
- Those that cause infection or contagion of cattle.
- If poisonous or corrosive substances are used.
- Damages that affect assets of domain or public or communal use.
- Damages ruin the injured party or place them in a difficult financial situation.
- The damages of extraordinary seriousness or that affect the general interests.
In addition, article 265 includes the aggravation for damages against the means of National Defense, while article 266 regulates the annoyance when fires or explosions cause injuries.
If a fire, explosions, or other instruments of similar destructive power are used that endanger the life or physical integrity of people, the crime will be more serious.
On the other hand, articles 264 and the following contain the specific type of computer damage. The primary type of this crime consists of deleting, damaging, deteriorating, altering, deleting, or making inaccessible computer data, programs or documents.
The crime of reckless damage
The crime of reckless damage occurs when damage to another’s property is caused by carelessness or negligence without malice or intention. The penalty to be imposed depends on the importance of the damage caused according to the following conditions:
- The imprudence must necessarily be grave. If the active subject complied with the basic rules of due diligence, the act will not be criminally punishable.
- The damage caused must have a value greater than 80,000 euros. If the value is lower, the victim may resort to civil proceedings to claim the corresponding compensation.
- In these infractions, the prior complaint of the aggrieved person or his legal representative is required.
- The forgiveness of the offended party extinguishes the penalty or criminal action.
Is there a minor crime of damage?
With the disappearance of the offenses in the reform of the Penal Code of 2015, the conduct provided for in article 625 began to be punished as a minor offense according to the provisions of article 263.
The minor damage offense occurs when the damage caused does not exceed 400 euros.