The definition of mischief is found in the Criminal Code in section 430. Generally, mischief occurs when a person does any of the following:
- Destroys or alters property;
- Renders 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 the property.
How to Defend Criminal Mischief Charges?
I’m a Toronto-based Lawyer practicing all over Ontario who has successfully defended hundreds of criminal charges. Mischief is an offence that is defined in section 430 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The crime of mischief involves the interference of damage to someone else’s property without the intention to steal.
Mischief is not necessarily established when an individual damages his or her own property. The crown must prove that the accused committed any of the prohibited acts in section 430 (1) and that the accused committed the act wilfully or was reckless in this regard.
The decision to lay a Mischief Under $5,000 or a Mischief Over $5,000 charge depends on the quantum of the property damage. Mischief Under $5,000 is a hybrid offence, punishable by a maximum of two years imprisonment if the Crown proceeds by indictment. Mischief Over $5,000 is also a hybrid offence (giving the crown the option to proceed summarily, resulting in lesser penalties) punishable by a maximum of ten years imprisonment if the Crown elects to proceed by indictment.
If an accused person is convicted of causing mischief which causes actual danger to life, he/she faces a maximum term of life in prison. Section 429 (2) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides a statutory defence to mischief by stipulating that one who acts with a legal justification or excuse and with colour of the right shall not be convicted. If the mischief was the result of an accident, you may have a defence to the charge(s).