A person commits the offence of mischief when he or she wilfully destroys or damages property, renders property dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective or obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property. The acts that constitute the offence of mischief are described under Section 430 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The person charged with mischief must have voluntarily committed the forbidden action or have been guilty of wilful blindness regarding the consequences of the action.

Mischief is liable to a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment when the property is worth over $5,000 or a maximum imprisonment of 2 years if the property is worth less than $5,000 (Section 430 (3) (a) and Section 430 (4) (a) Criminal Code). The maximum sentence is 6 months when charges are laid summarily (Section 430 (3) (b) and 430 (4) (b) Criminal Code). An absolute discharge is one of the sentences a judge can impose in case of conviction for mischief.

A lawyer defending a person charged with mischief has to ask certain questions: Is there proof beyond any reasonable doubt that it is the client who committed the act of mischief? Is the client’s version infirmative? If the client made an incriminating statement to the police, is it admissible as evidence? If the evidence is conclusive, is it possible to reach an alternative solution (for ex. a peace bond)?

Any person charged with mischief should consult a criminal lawyer as soon as possible.

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