Ottawa Mischief Lawyer
Mischief is a property crime—most often involving young people—who destroy property, either real or personal, to render it damaged, useless, dangerous, ineffective or inoperable to the owner. The severity of the charge of mischief is determined by the value of the property destroyed. Although often committed by rowdy teens, the consequences of a conviction of mischief can burden an individual with a criminal record and all the ramifications that such a record can bring. A skilled defence by an experienced Ottawa mischief lawyer is necessary to preserve your liberty and opportunities into the future, especially if the crime was committed by a young person.
What is Criminal Mischief?
Criminal mischief is defined by Section 430 of the Criminal Code. Criminal mischief occurs when a person wilfully:
- Destroys or damages 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 property.
Under $5,000 and Over $5,000
Like the crime of theft, the Criminal Code creates two levels of the offence of mischief. The lesser charge is when the value of the property is under $5,000, whereas the more severe charge is when property valued at over $5,000 is damaged or destroyed.
The lesser charge might result in a sentence of 2 years in prison. The more severe charge brings a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
First offences usually do not result in prison time. However, only a skilled and competent defence lawyer understands how to negotiate with prosecutors, probation departments, and judges to ensure that a young person’s life is not overly burdened by a jail sentence on top of a criminal conviction. Contact Auger Hollingsworth today.
Computer hacking is not just a teenage prank, but can lead to serious consequences. Criminal Code of Canada Section 430 (1.1) has created a new form of mischief related to computer data theft and interruption.
A charge of mischief can be brought against anyone who wilfully:
- Destroys or alters computer data;
- Renders computer data meaningless, useless or ineffective;
- Obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use of computer data; or
- Obstructs, interrupts or interferes with a person in the lawful use of computer data or denies access to computer data to a person who is entitled to access to it.
Why a Mischief Charge is Not a Minor Offence?
The crime of mischief and the related crime of computer-based mischief are property offences that can be, depending on the circumstances, vigorously pursued by prosecutors. The consequences are a criminal record, possible jail time, a fine, restitution, and all the fallout from having a criminal record: impairing educational opportunities, limiting career choices, prohibiting some professional licensing, restricting travel to the United States and other countries, inhibiting access to loans, and effecting immigration status.
Mischief can also be charged in relationship to domestic assault. During a domestic dispute, tempers sometimes flare, and property can be intentionally or inadvertently destroyed. A shoe is thrown into the television set, dishes are broken, a favourite object is smashed—each of these acts can result in a criminal charge of mischief.
What if it was my property?
Property that is jointly owned, as in a marriage, can be the subject of a charge of mischief if the property was wilfully destroyed or damaged. By destroying the jointly-owned property, you are depriving the other owner of its use. Even property that is solely owned by the defendant can be the basis of a charge of criminal mischief, if the property was wilfully destroyed or damaged in furtherance of fraud, such as filing a false insurance claim or filing a false report of theft with the police.
Accidental damage to property is not a crime, because the defendant must act wilfully in order to be convicted.
What are the Different Types of Criminal Mischief?
As noted, criminal mischief is classified by the value of the property destroyed or damaged, with $5,000 marking the difference between a lesser and more severe charge. However, not all personal property has a valuation. Destruction of these documents and objects can result in a criminal charge of mischief:
- A will or testamentary document
- A religious building or religious object
- Cultural property, such as a work of art
- A war memorial or cemetery
In addition, there is the new crime of computer-based mischief that does not include a valuation of the data.
Penalties for Mischief Charges
For lesser crimes of mischief, valued under $5,000, first offenders are rarely sentenced to jail, although the criminal conviction will have lasting impact on their lives. Sentences might range up to 6 months in prison.
For mischief convictions involving property valued greater than $5,000, and offences involving testamentary documents, religious buildings or objects, cultural property, and a war memorial or cemetery, sentences can be harsh.
For ordinary property valued over $5,000, the maximum sentence is 2 years, with as much as 3 years probation. However, attacks on religious, cultural or computer data can lead to a maximum sentence of 10 years. And longer sentences are feasible if there is evidence that the mischief was motivated as a hate crime or the computer data was highly valuable and the disruption of services consequential.
Contact our Ottawa Mischief Lawyers Today
Choosing an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer can help preserve your rights and defences to criminal charges. At Auger Hollingsworth, we offer a free consultation session during which you can assess our lawyers and we can assess the strength of the prosecution’s claims. During this free consultation, we will:
- Review the criminal charges or the request for appearance or subpoena for documents, and any police reports and other documents.
- We will listen to your story and map out the areas for investigation, begin to compile a list of witnesses, and compose the various strategies the facts and law offer.
- We will provide you with an estimate of the cost of legal services.
- If we are unable to provide you with a defence, we will refer you to other counsel.
Call (613) 699-8192 today to schedule a free consultation with the knowledgeable Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.