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What is Criminal Mischief?

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Under the Canadian Criminal Code, criminal mischief is defined as any act that destroys or otherwise damages property, renders the property inoperative, obstructs the lawful use of property, or interferes with the lawful operation of the property.

Often, parents and guardians receive a Notice to Parent, Adult Relative, or Other Adult notifying them that their child has been charged with criminal mischief. These charges will be brought according to the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA).

What Are Common Examples of Criminal Mischief and Juvenile Vandalism?

Criminal mischief is a common criminal offence for young people to be charged with. In the grand scheme of things, these charges may seem minor. However, they can have a long-lasting impact on a young person’s future, potentially limiting their future employment opportunities or even their immigration status.

Common examples of juvenile vandalism and criminal mischief include the following:

  •  Arson and fire-related offences affecting private property.
  •  Breaking and entering a home and damaging the mirrors, windows, furniture, and electronics.
  •  Damaging homes and residences owned by other people.
  •  Defacing park benches, public parks, and park statues.
  •  Egging cars and houses.
  •  Graffiti or ‘tagging’ property owned by another person. This can include painting, scratching, or drawing on the property.
  •  Injuring or shaving another person’s pet animal.
  •  Motor vehicle vandalism, such as keying cars, slashing tires, breaking mirrors, breaking windows, denting doors, and letting the air out of tires.
  •  Pranks that go too far. Examples may include breaking lawn property, damaging signs, and damaging business property inside or outside the stores.
  •  School-related hooliganism, such as graffiti, trashing classrooms, etc.
  •  Setting off small explosives and fireworks indoors or on school property.

Can a Youth Record of Criminal Offences Become a Part of an Adult’s Permanent Record?

Yes, the criminal offences found in youth records can follow that person and become a part of their permanent record. There may be ways to expunge or suspend these records, however, provided that sentencing has been completed and the criteria for the application have been met.

If these offences remain on an adult’s record, they may limit the person’s future ability to immigrate, travel internationally, or pass employment background checks.

What Are the Consequences for Criminal Mischief Charges?

If the value of the damaged property was higher than $5,000, the guilty could face costly fines and up to ten years in prison. If the property was valued at less than $5,000, the guilty may have a maximum prison sentence of up to two years.

Certain factors may add additional charges. Mischief relating to religious property or personal identity may be charged as crimes of hateful intent, making the sentencing more extreme in response.

What Defence Strategies May Be Useful for Defending Young People Accused of Crimes?

You must seek the professional legal counsel of an experienced criminal defence lawyer for a case of criminal mischief. Though the penalties may seem minor, they can be long-lasting, and it is better to nip things in the bud before the young person is left with the burden of a criminal record for years to come.

Your defence lawyer may explore several defence strategies, including but not limited to:

  •  Mischief requires intent. If you can prove it was an accident, the charges may be reduced or, more likely, dismissed entirely. It can be difficult to prove an accident or the lack of intent, which is a big part of why hiring a lawyer for legal guidance is so important.
  •  The ‘colour of right’ defence argues that the individual charged with a crime truly believed that they had the right to use the property as they saw fit. This may include the choice to destroy said property.
  •  The identity defence argues that the client facing charges was not the one guilty of committing the crime.
  •  And more…

Contact William Jaksa Criminal Litigation to Consult with an Experienced Youth Offender Lawyer

William Jaksa has over a decade of legal experience helping clients, young and old. To discuss your legal options before retaining counsel, you may request an initial consultation with the lawyer and his staff at any time.

Call our law firm today at 647-951-8078.

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