Mischief in Canadian Law is the offence of damaging another person’s property without intending to steal it. A person commits mischief if they intentionally:
- destroy or damage property; or
- render property dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective; or
- interfere with another person’s use, enjoyment or operation of the property.
If the mischief renders the property dangerous and causes an actual danger to life, the offender can be imprisoned for life. In most case however, there is no minimum punishment, therefore the court can consider a wide range of sentences including an absolute discharge.
The Offence of Mischief:
The offence of mischief is broadly defined to cover most circumstances where a person damages property not belonging to them. Typical mischief cases include graffiti tagging private or public property, intentionally damaging someone’s vehicle or home or otherwise damaging public property or personal property. Damaging property for which you are the sole owner is not normally mischief.
The prosecution must prove that the accused committed the act willfully, i.e. that they intentionally committed the act that caused the damage. Recklessness is sufficient to prove intention. That the accused did not intend to cause the degree of damage is not relevant to a finding of guilt, but it may be relevant when determining an appropriate disposition.
Criminal Lawyers Defending a Mischief Charge:
Depending on the circumstances of the offence and the offender, the case may be dealt with through a restorative justice program. Typically the defendant’s Criminal Lawyer makes a “without prejudice” proposal to the prosecutor to have the matter dealt with out of court. If the prosecutor agrees with the accused’s Criminal Lawyer, the file will move to a corrections official to arrange an assessment of the accused. The Criminal Lawyer then guides their client through the restorative justice program.
We are Criminal Defence Lawyers who defend mischief charges. We have a long history of obtaining the right results for individuals charged with mischief. If you have been charged with mischief and you need to avoid a criminal record, call our office for a free consultation.