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Both the Parole Board of Canada and Pardon Services Canada report that criminal records due to mischief are among the top 10 reasons record suspensions (pardons) are sought. The term “mischief” may make one think of conduct that is playful but causes annoyance. This may make the charge seem minor by the name alone, but mischief covers a broad range of crime which can be quite serious.

The Criminal Code of Canada says:

Every one commits mischief who willfully (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.

In general then, Mischief refers to causing damage on purpose, or what one might commonly refer to as vandalism. The most common explanations Pardon Services Canada receives with regard to this charge has to do with alcohol related acts. Individuals who have been convicted of this charge often state they had been drinking and become intoxicated when they committed the Mischief offence.

Here are a couple examples of the types of stories the staff at Pardon Services Canada  has heard, that resulted in a charge of mischief:

  1. I was out drinking with some friends at a bar after returning from working in the oil fields for several months. We had too much to drink that evening and things started to get rowdy. We started throwing things around the bar area. We caused damage to the bar, broke bottles against the tables and broke the chairs at our table. There is no excuse as to why this happened and I’m not sure why we did it in the first place. I deeply regret taking part in this.
  2. I was walking home from the bar one night with a friend. We were both intoxicated at the time. We started throwing rocks over the fence of some nearby buildings. This caused a large window in an office building to break and set off a security alarm. When the police responded, we were both arrested.

The crime of Mischief in the Criminal Code is a hybrid offence, meaning the method of trial can be either Summary or Indictable. A charge for “Mischief Under” typically refers to a Summary conviction, whereas “Mischief Over” will refer to an Indictable offence. As there is usually damage to property that has resulted from the offence it is common to see a monetary punishment imposed, such as a fine, restitution or compensation.  If imprisonment is part of the sentence, it is rare for the periods of imprisonment to be longer than 2 years, which would constitute Federal prison time, as most Mischief offences are relatively minor.

If you have a criminal record with a charge of Mischief, you can consult with a Client Advisor at Pardon Services Canada by completing the form below, or calling 1-866-972-7366.