Maureen Currie is an experienced criminal defence lawyer who has represented people accused of mischief in criminal courts since 1988 in Milton, Brampton, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton and other areas throughout Ontario.
While the word “mischief” sounds like a minor act, it is a criminal code offence that can have serious consequences.
I am charged with mischief. What does this mean?
There are many forms of mischief under the Criminal Code of Canada, the most common being mischief related to property. This occurs when any person wilfully
- destroys or damages property,
- makes property dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective,
- obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property, or
- obstructs, interrupts or interferes with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property.
The Crown must prove that the actions of the accused left the property either less suited for its intended purpose or that the usefulness or value of the property was impaired, even if only temporarily.
What are some examples of Mischief?
- • Damaging private property.
- • Damaging public property.
- • Vandalism.
I damaged my own property, can I still be charged with Mischief?
If you are the sole owner of the property damaged you cannot be convicted of mischief. However, if the property damaged is jointly owned, then you may be charged and convicted of mischief.
What defences do I have?
As with many other criminal offences, identity may be an issue in some cases of mischief. The Crown Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were the person that damaged, destroyed, obstructed or interfered with another person’s property.
Mischief related to property is what is referred to in law as a general intent offence. Therefore, the prosecuting Crown Attorney does not need to prove specific intent on your part. Practically, what this means is the fact that you may have been intoxicated is not a defence to a charge of mischief. The Crown Attorney must also prove that you wilfully or recklessly damaged, destroyed, obstructed or interfered with another person’s property.
What is the Penalty if I am Convicted of Mischief?
The penalty available for mischief will depend upon the facts of the case. The potential penalty for a conviction of mischief related to property will depend upon many factors including, whether bodily harm was caused to any other person, the nature of the property involved in the offence, the value of the property, and the motive behind committing the offence.
In the unusual circumstances where the mischief causes danger to another person’s life, the maximum penalty on conviction is life imprisonment. If the property that is damaged or destroyed exceeds $5,000 then the maximum penalty is 10 years in jail if the Crown Attorney proceeds by indictment, and 6 months in jail and/or a $5,000 fine if the Crown Attorney proceeds summarily.
Usually mischief charges represent a minor amount of damage to property. In the right circumstances, we may be able to negotiate with the Crown that the charges should be withdrawn on the condition that you reimburse the owner of the property for the cost of the damages.
I am charged with Mischief, What do I do?
You should contact a criminal defence lawyer. Although mischief is not one of the more serious criminal offences, a lawyer’s knowledge and expertise of criminal law can make a difference in the outcome of your case. Simply put, a criminal defence lawyer may be able to resolve your case so you don’t end up with a criminal conviction or a criminal record.