Mischief involves intentionally or recklessly damaging or interfering with the use of another person’s property. It also includes destroying, altering or interfering with the use of computer data.
Mischief is a common offence that is often considered to be on the less serious end of the spectrum of criminal activity. However, if the property damaged is worth more than $5,000 or if the property is of particular significance—for example, a war memorial or a building used for religious purposes—the consequences can be quite serious.
Arson involves intentionally or recklessly causing damage to property through fire or explosion. You can be charged with this offence even where the property in question belongs to you.
What are the Consequences for a Mischief Conviction?
A conviction for regular mischief has a maximum sentence of 2 years in jail.
Jail time will rarely be imposed for a first offence where the property is worth under $5,000.
Furthermore, for minor crimes your lawyer can ask that you be “diverted” out of the criminal justice system. This would mean that you would not go through the traditional court and sentencing process. You would be required to make amends for your crime in an alternative way, such as community service. Other possible options include an absolute or conditional discharge (which would result in no criminal record), a fine, a term of probation or a conditional sentence that could be served in the community.
However, if the mischief is in relation to property worth over $5,000 or to a particular type of property, the potential consequences are much higher.
A conviction for mischief to the following types of property can lead to a maximum of 10 years in jail:
- Property worth over $5,000
- A will or other testamentary document
- A religious building or object related to religious worship
- Cultural property, such as important works of art
- Computer data
- A war memorial
Furthermore, a conviction for mischief to a war memorial carries with it minimum sentences of:
- A fine of at least $1,000 for a first offence
- Imprisonment for at least 14 days for a second offence
- Imprisonment for at least 30 days for any subsequent offence
A conviction for mischief that has endangered someone’s life—for example, tampering with someone’s food or medication—can lead to life imprisonment.
What are the Consequences for an Arson Conviction?
For regular arson, the maximum sentence is 14 years.
However, if the person knows that the property that is set fire to is occupied or causes bodily harm to someone, he or she could be liable to life imprisonment.
Where a person fails to control a fire that subsequently damages property, the maximum sentence is 5 years in prison.
How can DUVADIE Law Defend against your Mischief and Arson Charges?
DUVADIE Law is prepared to vigorously challenge the prosecution’s evidence and raise any defences available to you.
In order to be convicted of mischief or arson, the Crown Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was you who caused the damage or started the fire. Thus, it may be possible to raise a reasonable doubt that it was you, not someone else, who caused the damage.
As the criminal law does not punish purely accidental behaviour, it may also be possible to raise a reasonable doubt that you intended to damage the property or that you were aware that your actions would damage the property.
It may also be possible to argue that you had a justification for causing the damage. For example, you may have a full defence if you damaged property in the course of assisting someone who was in danger.
If you have been charged with mischief or arson, please call DUVADIE Law at 613-422-1155 or Toll-Free at 1-855-422-1155 to set up your free 30 minute consultation.
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