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mischief to property

The Criminal Code of Canada recognizes many different kinds of “mischief”.  Most common is mischief to property.

  • 430 (1) Every one commits mischief who wilfully
    • (a) destroys or damages property;
    • (b) renders property dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective;
    • (c) obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property; or
    • (d) obstructs, interrupts or interferes with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property.

madd tv sketch illustrates mischief to property

Mischief to property includes any wilful act to damage property without the consent of the property owner.  The MADD TV sketch below is humorous, yet useful example of mischief. 

In this video, the perpetrators are spraying graffiti on a local community centre. By operation of the Criminal Code, this constitutes “mischief”. Notwithstanding that damage to property is the most common mischief charge handled by criminal lawyers in Calgary, Alberta and across Canada, there are other kinds of mischief. This includes mischief in relation to computer data and mischief to a testamentary instrument (such as a will).  Mischief is also commonly paired with other allegations, such as domestic assault.  In many cases, damage to property arises in heated situations, where emotions are running high.

public mischief

There is also a very serious kind of mischief that does not involve damage to property, but is public in nature.  This is called “public mischief”. 

140 (1) Every one commits public mischief who, with intent to mislead, causes a peace officer to enter on or continue an investigation by

  • (a) making a false statement that accuses some other person of having committed an offence;
  • (b) doing anything intended to cause some other person to be suspected of having committed an offence that the other person has not committed, or to divert suspicion from himself;
  • (c) reporting that an offence has been committed when it has not been committed; or
  • (d) reporting or in any other way making it known or causing it to be made known that he or some other person has died when he or that other person has not died.

An example of public mischief includes making a false report to the police. This is a very serious offence for a couple of reasons, including that law enforcement resources are unlawfully engaged and the public mischief could expose the innocent to prosecution.  Where prosecutions for mischief to property are usually “summary” in nature and thus attracting lower penalties (such alternative measures, discharges or fines), the risk of a jail sentence for public mischief is high. 

charged with mischief to property or public mischief?

If you have been charged with public mischief in Calgary or anywhere, you should seriously consider consulting with an experienced criminal lawyer.  David Chow is a criminal defence lawyer in Calgary who defends all cases of mischief, including serious allegations of public mischief.  For information about Public Mischief and Swatting click here.


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