Mischief is a word for things that are a little bad or reckless but ultimately harmless. Hitting someone with a spitball is mischief. Hitting them with a rock is dangerous and therefore much worse than mischief. Mischief is done when a person willfully damages or destroys property with no intent to steal it, or renders it dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective. It is also done when a person obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of the property.

Mischief over $5,000 does not relate to the amount of the damage. The charge relates to the value of the property damaged. For example, an intentional scratch to an old car that has a value less than $5,000 would support a charge of Mischief under $5,000 contrary to section 430(4) of the Criminal Code. A similar scratch on a new vehicle (that is over $5,000 in value) would support the charge of Mischief over $5,000.

From a defence perspective, we are often able to negotiate a withdrawal of this charge if restitution is made and the damage repaired. This is another one of those charges that is often laid in a domestic assault altercation. Damage to doors or walls, broken cell phones etc. are subject matter for many mischief charges.

One should note that you are permitted to destroy or damage your own property. This charge requires an intent to damage property – accidental damage does not support this charge.

The criminal code provides for a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison in mischief over $5,000 cases, where the Crown elects to proceed by indictment. In cases where the Crown proceeds summarily, the maximum punishment is two years in prison.

Mischief Under $5000 is a criminal offence that deals with damage to property and it is classified as a “Wilful and Forbidden Act in Respect of Certain Property”. If the property involved exceeds $5000, it becomes a straight indictable offence which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

If you have recently been charged with mischief, there is a chance that you can get your charges dropped through a pre-trial diversion program. Some pre-trial diversion options that can result in your mischief charges being withdrawn are the alternative measures program and mental health diversion.

Dealing with a criminal charge is a serious matter that requires a trustworthy legal representation. Whether it is a first-time offence, or you have had previous encounters with the criminal justice system, you need to retain the right legal representation for you or your loved ones. At Brace Law, we accept private retainers and legal aid certificates.

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