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Maximum Punishments and Consequences of Mischief Charges:
In Canada, Mischief under $5000 can be classified as either a summary or indictable offence. Summary offences are less serious than indictable offences. Indictable offences carry the potential of longer prison sentences and are more likely to effect the immigration process (or travel to the US).
Mischief by Indictable
If the Crown proceeds to elect by way of indictment, the maximum potential prison sentence is two years unless the property damaged or destroyed is deemed to be of a cultural/religious nature or computer data. The offender could also be sentenced to period of probation for a maximum of three years upon conviction.
In mischief cases relating to the destruction of property that is deemed to be cultural, religious, or data (computer), the Crown may seek a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison upon conviction. This longer sentence is to deter crimes of hate and computer data destruction mischief cases where the value of damage lost can be tremendous or irreplaceable.
Mischief by Summary Conviction
If the Crown elects to proceed summarily, the accused faces a maximum possible jail term of six months. The Crown also has six months to charge the accused after the offence is alleged to have occurred. In most cases of mischief under $5000 the Crown will elect to proceed summarily. It is important to note that jail terms are rare for first time offenders in mischief under $5000 cases. The more realistic risk for an accused is receiving a criminal record and probationary sentence.
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- 430 (1) Criminal Code of Canada
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. Marginal note:Mischief in relation to computer data (1.1) Everyone commits mischief who wilfully (a) destroys or alters computer data; (b) renders computer data meaningless, useless or ineffective; (c) obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use of computer data; or (d) 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. Marginal note:Punishment (2) Every one who commits mischief that causes actual danger to life is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life. Marginal note:Punishment (3) Every one who commits mischief in relation to property that is a testamentary instrument or the value of which exceeds five thousand dollars (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or (b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction. Marginal note:Idem (4) Every one who commits mischief in relation to property, other than property described in subsection (3), (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or (b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
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Know Your Court
- The Ontario Court of Justice hears virtually all provincial offence matters as well as offences against municipal by-laws. Examples of such cases include:
- Highway Traffic Act charges such as speeding or traffic violations;
- Municipal by-law charges relating to excessive noise, animal control, or garbage disposal;
- Charges laid under provincial legislation such as the Environmental Protection Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Dog Owners’ Liability Act or the Trespass to Property Act.
- The tribunals of the SJTO are: Child and Family Services Review Board, Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, Custody Review Board, Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, Landlord and Tenant Board, Ontario Special Education (English) Tribunal, Ontario Special Education (French) Tribunal and Social Benefits Tribunal.