The United Kingdom follows the law of precedent. This is, without a doubt, the most cohesive and immovable form of legal jurisprudence followed internationally: common law has been around for a milennia, ushered in almost a thousand years ago in Norman England. Precedent is important. It is the keystone of admissible pursuance; without it, hell would break loose, with justices being able to parse red-blooded judgements at their own free will, without weightage to fall back on.
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A common misconception around the age of responsibility often construes criminal prosecution in the UK. Being 18 years of age may be the legal age to purchase alcohol and tobacco, but liability within criminal law can be placed on a 10 year old child as a positioned standard. Those under 10 may also be punished, albeit with other measures. For the pettiest of crimes, those between the ages of 12 and 17 are trialled under a specialised youth court, in order to be given a Detention and Training Order which can last up to two years. For graver crimes, or for those who are feared to be a continued harm to their society, extended sentences can be given. Life sentences for young people are not out of the question, either; this is purely up to the judgement of the Director of Public Prosecutions, or Crown Court.
Public vandalism is not a petty crime. The Crown Prosecution Service considers this when referring to the Criminal Damage Act 1971; in its very first section, it states that a person, who “without lawful excuse” destroys or damages any property belonging to another, intending to destroy or damage any such property, or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged, “shall be guilty of an offence.”
In Schedule 1 of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1980, one finds that in the 29th paragraph, this offence is subject to trial, regardless of the situation. Section 4 of the aforementioned 1971 Criminal Damage Act clearly states that the maximum penalty for offences, such as graffiti, carry up to ten years in prison, or a fine of up to £5,000.
What is to be learnt from this? Peaceful protests should be more than welcome in the United Kingdom and the European Union; however, local laws must be respected in order for the stability of society to be upheld. If ‘red lines’ are to be crossed, violating codes and regulations certainly make up that red line.